Are Galvanized Steel Garden Beds Safe?

Ed Wike
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What Is Galvanized Steel?

Galvanized steel is a type of steel that has a zinc coating, which stops metal from rusting and improves durability. Galvanized steel is a popular garden bed material because it holds up against the weather. Many people choose galvanized steel garden beds, but is it safe to use?

First, a distinction must be made between human contact and the use of galvanized steel for compost. When building a garden bed, you may work with the metal and handle it on a regular basis.

What’s Galvanized Steel Used For?

In the last few years, the galvanized steel garden bed has become quite popular among gardeners.

Originally, these galvanized steel beds were intended to be used as raised beds, used for growing plants. However, these beds can “ do a lot more than protect plants from the rigors of the weather. With the increasing awareness of the harmful effects of chemical lawn treatment, more and more gardeners are making the switch to a natural, chemical-free lawn. This is where the galvanized steel garden bed comes in. Instead of a traditional lawn where you have to go out often with your mower to keep it tidy, a galvanized steel bed can be a great alternative because of its owner-friendliness and its beauty that grows. These beds need very little care and maintenance, and you can use them to grow gorgeous flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

Aesthetically, these beds are a great choice for your garden. The textural interplay of the metal and the plants is a lot more natural than using artificial grass, and more interesting. The beds can be configured in whatever shape you want to create a visual treat of your garden.

Is Zinc Leaching From Galvanized Metal?

The main issue that galvanized steel garden beds have been associated with is leaching zinc into the nearby soil. The concern, of course, is that this is not good for the garden or the people who will potentially eat the veggies that are grown in this soil. Some studies have found that zinc leaching has negative effects on growing plants, but not enough to completely ban the use of galvanized steel. There are products labeled for contact with edible plants, to keep zinc out of the soil. If you are worried about issues such as how galvanized steel garden beds should be cared for? There are several obvious ways you can prevent or reduce the possibility of zinc leaching. Here are a few that you can use:

Make your own “garden bed” using galvanized steel trash cans and supporting them with a steel frame. Cover the bottom of the trash can with several inches of gravel. This will not only keep the bed out of the cold ground, but also aid in draining water away from the bed and preventing muddy conditions in the area where you are going to place the bed. The lid is optional if you want to be able to open it and allow sunlight into the bed. If you choose a trash can, make sure it is unenameled and not galvanized. You will need to be able to move it to a new location at some point and having an unenameled trash can makes this easier.

Can Galvanized Steel Be Used For Raised Beds?

We know how much people love their vegetables and gardening. It’s not a surprise that many people turn to steel instead of wood to build their raised beds. After all, galvanized steel raised beds are much lighter than wood, they won’t rot, and they don’t get termites.

But what about safety? People are concerned about galvanized steel raised beds and whether they can be used around vegetables.

It is true that one of the properties of galvanized steel is that it is quite toxic when exposed to certain elements. For example, salty water can cause galvanized steel to leach zinc into the soil and that can be harmful to plants. This is why you should not use galvanized steel for raised bed vegetable gardening.

But there is one other thing that people don’t think about. For example, galvanized steel is safe to use at the beach – you can take a swim in the ocean and rest your feet on a steel beach chair without any fear. How is that possible?

Steel corrodes when there’s oxygen. In the ocean, there’s only a small amount of oxygen. And in a raised bed, you don’t have a lot of oxygen, either.

Do Metal Raised Garden Beds Get Too Hot?

Treated lumber is usually made from pressure treated lumber, and this lumber is infused with toxic chemicals that are made to prevent fungus, insects, and rot. It makes sense then that most gardeners are on a quest to get rid of pressure treated lumber from their garden.

If you’re still using pressure treated lumber from your local store, you can follow the same steps to fight wood rot in your garden beds. Without pressure treated lumber, however, you can still get wood rot.

In fact, metal structures are much more prone to wood rot, even if that metal is galvanized steel.

Metal heats up like a pan on a hot stove. This is a phenomenon known as heat-buildup, and many metals exhibit it.

Because of heat accumulation, metal surfaces can reach up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just imagine this extra heat on your sensitive plants. This can cause a lot of damage to your precious plants and flowers.

To prevent it, always use frost blankets and black plastic to cover your plants when it gets really cold.

If you do not use frost blankets, do not cultivate the soil too deeply.

Do not plant seeds too deeply, and plant in groups.

Raised Garden Bed Selection

Before we get started with galvanized steel raised garden beds, let’s review a few thoughts about raised garden beds in general.

Keep in mind that you need to take into account that with a raised garden bed, the plants will be off the ground.

One of the great benefits of a raised garden bed, is that you don’t have to worry about pests, such as crawling insects, and rodents getting into your organic produce.

With a raised garden bed, you can enjoy easier access for planting, weeding, and harvesting your fruits and vegetables.

One of the biggest advantages of choosing a raised garden bed with a galvanized steel frame, is that it will last longer than a wooden one. By having a longer-lasting bed, the up-front investment is worth it.

DIY Build: Raised Galvanized Steel Garden Beds

Are galvanized steel garden beds safe? The answer is that, in general, it depends on what you plant, how you plant it, in what reuse condition the bed was in when you bought it, and how you maintain it.

An upside to galvanized steel is that it makes the beds usable in the winter when beds would otherwise be empty. You can just cover the bed and use the space all year long.

A downside is that you have to be a bit more careful to use only things that won’t harm the galvanized steel.

This bed is one of the most popular bed designs around. It is so versatile and flexible. It can conform to any outdoor space and any landscape beyond your imagination. It comes with most of the tools and hardware required to assemble it. And, it is easy to get a one-to-one frame for any size that you want.

Many garden and professional websites suggest creating a raised bed in wooden planks that can then be rinsed down with water. Cedar, pitch pine or oak are used directly, but based with a pressure treatment as well. Cable ties and wooden stakes hold the wood panel tightly together.

To create a more attractive look, simply add some plants or additional wood planks.

Keeping Your Metal Raised Beds Safe

While metal raised garden beds can be a great choice for any garden, the weather can take its toll on the beds over time. Most metal garden beds are made of galvanized steel, a process commonly used to protect the metal from rusting. However, when metal rusts, there is the potential for dangerous health issues to develop, and that is why it is important to address the problem as quickly as possible. While this means that you need to act quickly in order to get rid of the rust in your metal raised garden bed, it does not mean that you have to spend a lot of money. There are a variety of rust removal methods that you can try for getting rid of the rust, and we’ll look at some of the easiest and most effective methods below.