If you’ve been wanting to renovate your garden but don’t know where to start, using some landscape timbers is something you need to consider. Not only is it easy to source and can be extremely affordable but it will immediately change the overall appearance of your garden thanks to the versatility in application.
Whether you use it for planters, furniture or steps, you can use landscape timbers to create the garden of your dreams with nothing off limits. In this guide, we’ll be providing you with a variety of tips that you should bear in mind when making your plans.
Not only will this guide teach you about the different types of wood that you can consider, but you’ll also become resourceful in using recycled materials and unused goods in a bid to make your garden unique and unquestionably characteristic.
There are an abundance of places where you can source your timber from usual suspects like Walmart to the more unexpected places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
No matter how you do it, having a plan in place will ensure that you have an enjoyable experience while also meaning that you are safe and know what you are working with.
Here are 21 landscape timber tips that you should remember:
Materials to consider
In this section, we’ll be delving into what materials you can consider and what their benefits are.
When you are planning to renovate your garden, the materials will always have to be the first thing you think about as this will determine the overall quality in the foundation of your garden no matter what you are building with it. Here are some of the most popular materials used for landscaping:
Composite or plastic
Composite and plastic timbers are great for those who want to use recycled materials and are easier to install and handle thanks to their lighter weights.
It is also a safer option as the surfaces tend to be smoother and no chemicals are used to treat them. Therefore, it’s an ideal option for those who want a long term solution. However, it is the most expensive material due to its resilient nature.
When you think of landscape timbers, the first material that probably comes to mind is wood. The best natural resource that you can use, there are plenty of different woods you can choose from such as redwood and cedar.
Depending on whether you choose treated or untreated wood, you can apply the timber for any project meaning that it is great to work with, especially if you love working on DIY projects.
The cheapest option to choose from, wood tends to be the most popular choice thanks to the array of different types of woods to choose from and the natural aesthetic it has.
If you have decided to go down the wood route, then you have two further choices to consider. These are treated or untreated woods.
Beginning with treated woods, this is the most commonly applied option as the wood has been treated with a natural solution such as creosote or pentachlorophenol which is made from plants that has beneficially preservative oils in the leaves, roots and stems meaning that the wood will have a longer lifespan.
There are other woods that have been treated with man made chemicals such as chromium, arsenic and copper. However, these woods should not be used around natural plantlife as it can poison them.
The second wood option is using untreated wood which is as it sounds. Whereas treated woods have been coated in solution, untreated wood will naturally withstand any harsh environment or fungus growth.
However, they need to be applied to areas that have no decaying attributes nearby as this can encourage the wood to rapidly deteriorate.
The downside to untreated woods is that although they are the cheapest option overall, they do need replacing far more often than treated woods or plastic due to their natural state which means that they will rot faster than treated woods.
Where you should buy from
Knowing where to buy your landscape timbers from will help you to purchase as much as you need from the same batch so the overall look is consistent. No matter what kind of timber you are looking to purchase, these places will have everything you need to get started on your landscaping journey whatever you have planned. Here are some of the places you can buy your local timber from:
The first option is for those who love to look for a bargain and is Craigslist. As you can expect, there are lots of options available on Craigslist so you can find a variety of different materials at a fraction of the retail price.
Following Craiglist, another great place to look for a bargain is Facebook Marketplace. There aren’t any guarantees that you will definitely find exactly what you are looking for, but this a fantastic option for those who want to create a unique garden or may not have the budget to go to Home Depot or Walmart.
Home Depot is one of the best options as there are a variety of different landscape timber options available. Their treated landscape timber is particularly great as it protects the wood against any fungi, rot or termites and can be stained or painted as well.
Lowes have lots of landscape timbers which are great if you are wanting to build some flower beds. They have a wide range of landscape timbers made from different kinds of wood so you can pick an option that is perfect for you and suits your own preference.
Like Home Depot and Lowes, Menards also has a wide selection. With plenty of choices, you can purchase the perfect option for your landscaping no matter what you want to use the timbers for. With all of their options available online, it’s best to look there before you visit their store so you can have a better idea of what to look for.
For those who want to do all of their shopping online, Tractor Supply is the perfect option for you. Their store has a lot of different kinds of timbers but they are incredibly popular so you will have to act fast when they do replenish their stock. This is the best option for those who have the money to spend.
Lastly, Walmart has some options and provides the raw materials for your landscaping projects. They sell 8 inch logs of various timbers so you can construct whatever you want for your garden.
Once you have sourced your materials and have everything you need, it’s important to make sure that you install the timbers correctly. This is so the timbers are all laid down properly and evenly to avoid any injuries or damage whilst ensuring that you get the longevity you expect.
One of the most common uses of landscape timbers is to make fence posts. This is because it is a cheaper alternative to purchasing timbers that have already been designed for fence posting.
If you are wanting to use landscape timbers to make into fence posts then make sure that you are using recycled plastic timbers or treated wood options as they will be able to resist the high levels of moisture beneath the ground.
When making your fence posts, make sure the area has been prepped and that you have marked out your holes. Measure it correctly and use something like spray paint so you can see the marks clearly. Purchase your supplies and ask for some help from a family member or friend who can help you to install them properly.
Here is a list of materials you will need for fence posting:
- Landscape timbers
- Wood braces
- Wood spikes
Here is a list of tools you will need for fence posting:
- Dust mask
- Mechanical posthole digger
Before installing any landscape timbers, always make sure with your local authority whether you need a permit before proceeding. This will save you from wasting any money should you be rejected at the planning process.
A lot of fences and decks require a permit so it’s always best to check as soon as you can. This is because you will have to dig deep into the ground.
Using a concrete bag calculator
Using a bag calculator can help you figure out how many bags of concrete you will need before you start sourcing your materials and proceed with the installation process. This will help to speed up the installation and will mean that you are more prepared.
Digging beneath the frost line
It’s important to know what the frost line is in your area. It tends to be shallower in Southern states and deeper in Northern states.
You can determine where the frost line is by using a post hole digger or a hydraulic powered auger which will help you to dig the holes without using too much manpower. You can hire a digger per day so you don’t have to spend thousands purchasing the equipment outright.
Clearing out the hole
It’s important to make sure you clear out the hole you have dug. This will ensure that it is completely flush and will prevent any accidents from happening as the sides will not collapse inwards. This is especially important if you are digging near concrete.
Now is the time to add in your concrete. Using brands such as Quikrete are great as they promise a quality and consistent finish to your landscaping. You do this by adding the post and then add the water to mix it with.
Make sure that you fill it up to around 6 inches from the bottom of the hole. By pouring the concrete at a slight angle, this will ensure that the water will be mixed in properly and will prevent it from rotting.
Mixing the water and concrete
Once the water has been laid on top of the concrete powder, make sure that you use a shovel to mix them together. You will need around a gallon of water for each bag of concrete powder that you use. Pour around 75% of your water into the concrete and mix before adding the rest of the water and mixing it together until it has a thick consistency.
Adding the landscape timber
Now that the concrete and water has been consistently mixed through, it’s important to add the landscape timber by using a level to ensure that it is plumb and straight enough to be inserted.
Installing without concrete
If you are installing your landscape timber without using any concrete then you need to ensure that your landscape timber is made from appropriate materials such as recycled plastic or treated wood to ensure that it will not rot as it is going to be directly exposed to the moisture beneath the ground.
However, bear in mind that treated wood timbers have been coated in chemicals which can be harmful to neighboring plants.
If you want to grow vegetables then make sure that the timbers are not installed nearby as the chemicals can find their way into the cellular structure of the plants meaning that the food that is produced will end up being contaminated and unsuitable to eat.
Retaining wall installation
If you are wanting to install retaining walls then you will need to ensure that you purchase timbers that are around two inches thick. This is because you need to ensure that the structural integrity of the timbers are fully supported.
An example would be if you are making flower beds and you want a raised structure to prevent the plants from being exposed to the ground.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will untreated landscape timbers last?
As expected, untreated landscape timbers don’t last as long as other options because they are more likely to rot away when exposed to the moisture beneath the ground.
Treated landscape timbers can last for more than seven years but untreated landscape timbers tend to last between three to five years. The best option is recycled plastic which can last up to 25 years making it the ideal choice for longevity.
How do you keep landscape timbers looking new?
There are a variety of ways to make your landscape timbers look new and fresh without having to resort to painting or staining. Using substances such as alkaline copper azole or alkaline copper quat are fantastic because they help the wood to preserve the integrity so it will last for longer periods of time.
How do you keep landscape timbers from rotting?
When constantly exposed to moisture, even treated timber can and will rot. The key is to keep it away from areas with a lot of moisture exposure and to keep the wood painted. The paint protects the timber from allowing the water to permeate the wood, which prevents rotting, bowing and even mold.
Should I put gravel under landscape timbers?
Gravel can be a fantastic way of helping to keep the landscape timber level and straight at all times. Bear in mind that finding the correct level can be tricky at times hence why there is a sand option but the heavier weight of gravel will mean that it will be held down better than if you used sand.
Gravel is a fantastic choice for those who are using untreated landscape timbers as it can drain the surrounding moisture from beneath the ground meaning that the timbers won’t directly be affected by the moisture meaning that it won’t rot through as quickly.
Do landscape timbers attract termites?
One thing that you always need to be aware of is that termites are attracted to landscape timbers. If your home has a termite problem already then it’s important to make sure that this has been taken care of before installing your landscape timbers.
This is because termites will thrive on feeding on your landscape timbers which will mean that your timbers won’t last for a long period of time and you’ll have to repeat the whole process again after a few months at most.
Therefore, in order to save yourself the extra money or time, make sure your home has gone through a fumigation process in order to ensure the structural integrity and longevity you would expect from the landscape timbers no matter what materials you use.
How do you fasten landscape timbers to the ground?
Fastening landscape timbers to the ground correctly will ensure that it is done properly and will stay secured and straight at all times. The best way to do this is by securing the border using rebar.
Simply drill some holes into the centre with the holes spaced around 4 feet away from each other. Using the rebar, pin the landscape timbers into the ground using a hand sledge to secure it properly.
Overall, installing landscape timbers doesn’t have to be an intimidating or stressful endeavor but it is important to make sure that you read through these tips in order to ensure that you have full preparation and know what to expect from the whole process.
Not only does this mean that you will have the proper materials and tools already in place, but you’ll be able to gage what will suit your garden best and what will look appropriate based on your personal criteria. Doing this initial research is important so you can have a more enjoyable experience with more success.