Are there nontoxic stains that would be safe for wood planters in a veggie garden?

Asked by Candy Guerrero, Harrison, NJ

I purchased untreated Douglas fir with the intention of building a raised vegetable garden but I later found out that untreated Douglas fir is not very rot-resistant. What can I use to protect the wood so that it doesn't decay too fast (I'd like it to last at least two years)? Are there any sort of nontoxic stains or other treatments that would be okay for wood surrounding a veggie garden?


Debbie Sek

Answered by Debbie Sek

Santa Cruz, CA

T Paul Sek Eco-Friendly Painting

July 23, 2009

I recommend using SoyShield Premium stains and sealers. They are bio-based, nontoxic sealers made from soybeans. Due to the nontoxic nature of the formula, hazardous chemicals will not leach into the garden.

The sealer comes in several colors: clear, honey, cedar, redwood, and walnut. Coat all six sides of the wood for maximum protection. This will keep water out and help prevent rot and decay.

For more information: For further advice on building safe and durable garden planters, read Polly Osborne's Ask A Pro Q&A article "Can you suggest an alternative to pressure-treated wood for garden borders and raised planters?"

Tagged In: natural wood finish, green landscaping

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.