February 18, 2023 5 min read

Using Wood for Garden Builds

Female gardener gathering harvest and placing them into a basket


Wood is a versatile material that has been used for a wide range of purposes for centuries. However, when it comes to using wood in the garden, it's important to be cautious. While treated wood can be useful for outdoor structures, it is generally not recommended to use treated wood in the garden, especially for garden beds or raised beds.


What is Treated Wood?

Pile of treated wood inside of home improvement store


Treated lumber is wood that has been chemically treated to make it more resistant to rot, insects, and other types of damage. The most common types of treated wood are those that have been treated with CCA, a mixture of copper, chromium, and arsenic compounds. While these treatments can make the wood more durable, they also introduce potential health risks and environmental concerns.

The chemicals used to treat the wood can leach out of the wood and into the soil or water, where they can be taken up by plants or even contaminate groundwater. This can be harmful to plants and animals, and may pose a health risk to humans who come into contact with the wood or the contaminated soil. In addition, treated wood may have an impact on the environment when it is disposed of, as the chemicals can potentially contaminate nearby ecosystems.


No Chemicals, No Problem... Right?

Male cutting wooden planks for raised garden bed


While untreated lumber may be a safer alternative to treated wood, it still has some limitations and drawbacks when used in the garden.

One of the main drawbacks of using untreated wood in the garden is that it is susceptible to rot and decay. Over time, exposure to moisture and soil can cause untreated wood to break down, which can shorten the lifespan of garden structures and potentially introduce pests and diseases into the garden. This can be especially problematic for garden beds and raised beds, which are designed to be in contact with soil and water.

Another issue with untreated wood is that it can attract insects such as termites and carpenter ants. These insects can burrow into the wood and cause damage over time. This can not only weaken garden structures, but also attract other pests and diseases that can affect the health of plants in the garden.


Carpenter ant walking across the edge of a wooden garden bed


To address these issues, it's recommended to use naturally resistant woods such as cedar, redwood, or cypress for garden structures. These woods contain natural oils and resins that make them resistant to rot, decay, and insects. However, these types of wood can be more expensive and may not be readily available in all areas.

For gardeners who prefer an alternative to wood altogether, EMT Conduit and Maker Pipe's steel connectors are a great option that provide strength, durability, and resistance to corrosion without the risks associated with treated or untreated wood.


EMT Conduit as an Alternative

Raised garden bed made with steel conduit and straw


EMT Conduit is a readily available type of metal tubing that is commonly used for electrical wiring. It is strong, durable, and resistant to corrosion, making it a great option for garden structures. EMT conduit is also easy to work with and can be cut to size with a hacksaw or a pipe cutter.



EMT Conduit sunshade protecting rose plants from desert sun


One of the main reasons why EMT Conduit is so durable is because it is made from metal, which is a strong and sturdy material by nature. The galvanized steel  used in EMT conduit is resistant to corrosion, rust, and other forms of damage, which makes it ideal for use in outdoor applications. This means that EMT conduit can withstand exposure to the elements, such as rain, wind, and sun, without becoming weakened or degraded over time.



Steel conduit lying on a few dollar bills and loose change


EMT conduit is a cost-effective alternative to traditional wood options for garden structures. One of the main reasons for this is that the upfront cost of EMT conduit is generally lower than the cost of wood products such as lumber or decking. This is because EMT conduit is made from inexpensive galvanized steel, and can be produced in large quantities with industrial manufacturing processes. As a result, the cost of producing each individual piece of conduit is lower, which can translate to a lower cost for consumers.

EMT conduit is also a more cost-effective option over the long term because it is durable and long-lasting. Unlike wood products that can rot, warp, or decay over time, EMT conduit is resistant to rust and corrosion and can last for many years with little maintenance. This means that over time, the cost of using EMT conduit may be lower than the cost of using wood products that require ongoing maintenance and replacement.



Steel conduit trellis inside of metal raised garden bed


EMT conduit is a non-toxic, non-leaching material that is safe to use in gardens without any risk of chemical contamination. This is particularly important for gardeners who grow fruits, vegetables, and other edible plants in their gardens.

Using EMT conduit for garden structures such as raised garden beds or trellises ensures that the plants are grown in a safe and healthy environment, free from any potential chemical contaminants. In addition, EMT conduit is a sustainable and environmentally friendly option that can be recycled and reused, reducing waste and promoting sustainable gardening practices.



Small hoophouse made with emt conduit and clamp style connectors


EMT conduit is a versatile material that can be easily cut and shaped to fit a wide range of garden design needs. It can be used for a variety of garden structures, including raised garden beds, trellises, plant supports, and more. EMT conduit is available in a range of diameters, thicknesses, and lengths, which allows for customization and flexibility in designing garden structures that fit specific garden layouts and plant needs.

 Its lightweight and easy-to-handle design means that it can be easily transported and installed, even by novice gardeners. EMT conduit can be connected using a variety of connectors, which allows for easy assembly and disassembly as needed. This means that gardeners can customize their garden structures to fit their changing needs and preferences over time, without having to invest in expensive or permanent structures.


How to Use EMT Conduit in the Garden

Male connecting pipes together with clamp and hex wrench


Using EMT Conduit in garden builds is a simple process, made even easier by Maker Pipe's clamp style fittings which require only simple tools to assemble. First, the EMT Conduit is measured and cut to the desired length using a pipe cutter or hacksaw. Then, the clamp style fittings are used to connect the conduit together in various ways. Lastly, the conduit is secured in place using metal stakes or brackets.


In conclusion, using EMT conduit as an alternative to treated and untreated wood in garden builds can be a great option for those looking to create a sustainable and safe outdoor space. Its durability, affordability, safety, and versatility make it a great choice for garden structures of all kind.


Download The Free Gardener's Solution Book

The Gardener's Solution E-Book Cover