Brian's House Building Blog

From Raised Garden Beds To Swings: Four Backyard Building Ideas For Environmentalists

by Peyton Sanders

If you are an environmentalist looking for a sustainable, durable wood to use in your next backyard building project, it's time to consider the benefits of treated pine. One of several native softwood species, pine grows abundantly in Australia and nearly 70 percent of the pine used in Australia is grown locally. Using locally grown wood puts less strain on the environment than transporting wood from other parts of the world, and as pine grows very quickly, it is a sustainable and renewable source. To kickstart your relationship with treated pine, consider these four backyard ideas:

Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds provide you with a dedicated and attractive gardening spot where you can plant any veggies you want, and pine is a great material to use for the frame of the bed. To make a raised garden bed, you simply need to build a wood square out of pine planks or logs and lay it on the ground. Line the square with a layer of landscaping fabric directly on the ground– this layer keeps weeds at bay. Finally, fill your wood frame with rich garden soil, and plant as desired.

Unfortunately, some of the elements used in treating pine have raised suspicion among some organic gardeners. In particular, these gardeners are worried about trace levels of arsenic used in the treatment process. If you share this concern, it may ease your worries to know that researchers have found little evidence that treated pine leeches arsenic into the ground. It is really only a risk if you put the treated pine into your mouth or if you burn it. Alternatively, you can avoid the arsenic issue completely by using pine treated with copper and quaternary ammonium compound (ACQ).

Pine Decks

More affordable than cedar or many type of composites, treated pine wood makes a beautiful option for decking. While traditional pine decks need to be stained and maintained, treated pine decks can last 10 to 15 years with almost no maintenance work from the homeowner.

Kids' Swing

A children's swing is relatively easy to build, and it gives your children a fun place to play in your yard. To get started, you need three treated pine poles or beams and one or two swings. You can buy manufactured swings from swing set companies, or you can make your own with a simple board, two holes and a couple of heavy-duty ropes.  

To build the frame for the swing, dig two holes in a level part of your yard. Fill those holes with pre-mixed cement and insert two treated pine poles into the holes. Allow the concrete to set around the poles.

Take a third pole, decide where you want your swing to hang and drill holes into the corresponding spots. If using swings with chains, you need to install metal hooks into those holes, and if using swings with ropes, you need to wind the rope through the holes and tie it. Finally lift your crossbeam and bolt it to your standing poles.

As indicated above, if you are building something for children out of treated pine, use ACQ treated pine rather than CCA treated pine.

Treated Pine Fence

In addition to being sustainably harvested, treated pine is one of the sturdiest types of wood for outdoor applications. When you opt to use treated pine for your fence, you get to enjoy a weather-resistant wood that resists decay and termites.

You also have a range of styles and colours at your disposal. Treated pine can be made into any style of fence, and it can be easily painted or stained. In fact, to increase its lifespan, it should be painted or stained.