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  • Are railroad ties SAFE for gardens?

    Created by glowbugg on

    We have access to old railroad ties and I was wondering if they are safe to use in my vegetable garden? I know they smell terrible but will that affect my plants in any way?

  • Author
  • #13957

    produce guy

    We’ve use them for years here in TX., there just the right height for filling in with dirt (raise beds), and the sticky glue is usually only on the top and not on the sides, so it should be okay, plus they don’t rot as quickly as others do.


    Old railroad ties are often loaded with PCB’s. That’s why they smell bad. PCB’s were banned int the 80’s (?) because of links to cancer. I don’t know how readily they leach into the soil, but I wouldn’t be comfortable using them for a vegetable garden.


    Eric Vinje

    Hi –

    Used railway ties have been an old standard for garden walls and beds, but since they were often treated with creosote, they have gained a bad reputation. I think it is generally a good rule of thumb to avoid treated woods, especially if they are slick, sticky or oily. If you are already using ties, it might be a good idea to line the beds with a safe, impermeable material such as heavy-duty, food-grade plastic.

    Hope this helps!

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