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Are you considering a landscaping project? Think about using landscape timbers. They are a budget friendly way to spruce up your entire yard or any problem area. The possibilities are endless, but before you jump right in make sure that you have everything that you need to know about timbers, as well as how to securely install them.

First, landscape timbers are available natural and untreated or treated. Other than the cosmetic appearance, there is not a lot to consider when deciding which one to go with. Natural timbers have some natural resistance to mold and fungus on their own. Treating a timber can add an extra layer of protection in extreme temperatures or where there is an overabundance of moisture. The only other major concern when deciding to go treated or untreated is if you are using the landscape timbers in a garden or around other edible plants. Some people feel that using treated timbers in these situations could pose harm to those that ingest food that has been butted up against them. This is still an ongoing debate.

Timber Basics

Landscape timbers are most commonly found in four foot and eight foot lengths. Timbers are also flat on the top and the bottom which makes them easy to stack.

When choosing landscape timbers be aware that there are two basic types: synthetic and natural. Natural timbers are usually redwood and cedar and are treated or untreated as mentioned before. Synthetic timbers are made of recycled plastic. Although they lack the look and feel of real wood, they are easier to work with because they weigh significantly less. The synthetic timbers also solve the problem of treated versus untreated. They are free from any chemicals, so they are safe for children, pets, and gardens.

Benefits of Using Landscape Timbers

Landscape timbers are not only versatile, they have many benefits:

  • Durability: Landscape timbers have a very long-life span. Treated timbers can last up to seven years and synthetic timbers can last for several decades.
  • Economically Friendly: Landscape timbers are much more budget-friendly than stone, concrete, or other edging material.
  • Accessibility: Raised flower and plant beds made of timbers reduce the amount of weeding and make access to plants easier.

Ideas on Use

People are most familiar with using landscape timbers to build berms. Berms have many uses from curb appeal to solving drainage problems. They can also add levels to a flat yard or enclose an area for trees and shrubs or for grass.  

Another common way of utilizing landscape timbers is for building up flower boxes. Timbers can be used to create free standing boxes or attached to decks or houses.

Securing Your Timbers

People often make the mistake of not securing their timbers, because of their weight. However, with natural shifts in the ground, landscape timbers will move over time. There are a variety of ways to anchor your timbers.

Landscape Spikes: To keep with the rustic look of your landscape timbers, you can use galvanized spikes to lock them in. This works the best when building flower beds, sandboxes, or retaining walls where the timbers will have to absorb additional weight. Galvanized spikes will properly keep your timbers stacked together, but will not anchor them to the ground.

Timber Screws: These are like spikes but are ribbed to add additional security from movement. If used correctly, they do have some holding power to the ground.  

Rebar: This is the most effective way to hold and anchor landscape timbers. Rebar is strong enough to use on its own or it can be used with screws or spikes.

Deadmen: When none of the above selections provide adequate support for stacked timber projects, deadmen is the best option. This is a buried T-shaped anchor made from concrete or metal. No matter its composition, it is buried in the ground behind the wall. It is then firmly screwed into the timber itself. This will prevent movement and sliding especially from moisture.

The great thing is that with any of the above choices, landscape timbers do not require pre-drilling, which makes installation relatively quick.