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Feb 26, 2011 11:50 AM

Can I use dressers for container gardening?

QUESTION: I've been salvaging old, used wooden dressers and thought they might work for container gardening for my lettuces, etc...... IS this okay to do? I know particle board is treated with fermaldahyde but what about solid wood?

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  1. I'd be kind of leery about filling with soil and planting directly in drawers that have been painted or stained. Also, I imagine it wouldn't take long for the weight and moisture to warp out and pull the drawers apart. You could possibly find tubs to fit them, drill the tubs for drainage and use the lids that come with them on the bottoms as a saucer to catch the water drips. Will these be outside? If so, you could line the drawers directly with heavy plastic and puncture the bottom, drill the drawer bottoms for drainage, and fill with potting soil. But in any case I think I'd try to put some kind of barrier between the soil and the wood to keep any kind of possible water soluble chemical nasties from leaching into the soil.

    BTW, I use to have an old broken down desk that made a great potting table and supply holder. I bet one of those old dressers would make great storage for hand tools, gloves, and all the other bits that are handy for gardening.

    2 Replies
    1. re: morwen

      Thanks for the help! I think you're right about the potential for chemicals...

      I'm gonna go buy some wood and make my own planters I think. Was hoping to do it cheaply but I'm not entirely sure how to go about doing that.

      Any suggestions for good wood to use? Ah! It would be so much easier to grow things if I had actual land to use.

      PS. Yes, they will be outside.

      1. re: kristygardner

        You want untreated wood. Untreated cedar is good because it has natural water resistant properties and will last longer, but expensive. Considering the cost of lumber, supplies and labor you might actually get off cheaper buying good sized planting boxes. Add up the costs of building boxes vs the cost of planters. Wood will deteriorate and raised beds we've built with wood have always needed to have boards replaced or entire beds rebuilt much sooner then we wanted.

        Looks aren't really important to me (as long as it's not seriously shabby or ratty) and I've had great success with the plastic Sterilite brand storage tubs and chests from the dollar store. Drilled drainage holes in the bottom and they've lasted for years. Plus they're light weight, don't dry out as fast, and in the off season they stack inside themselves for storage.

        In our outdoor garden we needed to terrace some beds on a hillside and found our best value for that was landscape timbers when they were offered on sale at Lowes. But only if we got them on sale. Those we cut to size, drilled and stacked, and pinned them directly to the ground by driving rebar (also from Lowes) through the holes and into the ground. We know at some point they'll have to be replaced and for that we'll use block but it was a quick fix when we needed it. But that may not be an option for you.