Landscaping & Design/wood choices


Hello. thank you for being here. I have moved to central California area. I have three choices for wood used outdoors and in contact with the ground. Cedar, Redwood, and Pressure Treated. Of those three, which one would you use?

Your two big enemies of wood are termites and decay.  Installing fence posts, deck sleepers, or lawn edging? Go with pressure-treated (or PT) lumber.  

The redwood & cedar have tannins, a naturally rot-resistant chemical. Termites will still eat redwood & cedar, however. Older homes in California used to have redwood foundations directly on the ground, and architectural clear heartwood is crazy expensive!!  

The pressure-treated wood has more harsh chemicals.  the "green-looking" wood contains Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA), which is arsenic-based.  Another "green" colored wood uses Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ), but doesn't contain arsenic.  ACQ is still pretty nasty stuff.  The third  type is a "brown" colored wood, treated with Copper Boron Azole (CBA), a copper-based preservative with an organic fungicide.  

Don򴠢reath any dust created from cutting these lumber products!  PT lumber would be OK for use in retaining walls for ornamental plants.  But, none of these should not be in contact with plants or roots of plants you are going to eat -- fruit trees, berry bushes, or veggies.  In other words, these PT woods are NOT for use in a raised vegetable garden situation. This application would be the place to use the cedar or redwood.

If you are looking for a structural use that is not as utilitarian as a fence, like a swing-set or ornamental arbor?  Western Red Cedar has more structural toughness (less likely to shatter under loads), than redwood.  If you are going for top-dollar sexy? Then redwood is knockout gorgeous but can be expensive.  It will also require some maintenance over time to stay looking great.  I'd use a lower grade for landscape purposes, like construcion common/construction heart.

I Hope this helped ~m

Landscaping & Design

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Marc Chapelle, RLA


I am a licensed Landscape Architect. I can answer general questions about style and design, give you ideas and suggestions for site amenities, help with larger site-planning issues, or perhaps give guidance for recreational amenities & park design. IF YOU ARE GOING TO ASK FOR A PLANT SUGGESTION GO HERE: I prefer you ask somebody else why your petunias are not as perky as they should be; I'd LOVE to tell you how those petunias can increase your home's value!


20+ years of working with homeowners, contractors, developers and local civil engineering/architecture firms. I am located in the dry Great Basin area (Greater Nevada/Utah), so the use of landscape materials OTHER than plants is emphasized. As a licensed Landscape Architect I've worked on both the East and West Coasts.


BSLA in Landscape Architecture,Licensed in NV, CA, & VA - but can answer Q's across the country Many additional seminars, educational venues, and classes (both taught & attended)

Awards and Honors
Best Multifamily project, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association Best Model Home Landscaping, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]