Sanding vs Staining

Hello Garden Friends,

Today took me to Melrose Elementary in Hollywood, where I sanded down the outdoor kitchen area and welcome gate.

I photo 1often get asked by parents/volunteers, “why don’t we stain our raised beds or tables?” Here is the answer:

Firstly, redwood is already a termite and rot resistant wood and while the aesthetic may be appealing in the short term.. it is the stain and paint that will start peeling after the wood shrinks and expands in the Southern California temperature swings. Secondly, because of our dry climate we hardly ever get enough rain to warrant the application of sometimes very toxic materials.

photo 3

“But Farmer Jeff, what about natural oil finishes? Are those toxic?”

No they are not toxic, but we don’t use them because outdoors, and especially in dusty and smoggy urban environments the oils can grab dirty airborne particulate matter and permanently infuse the grime into the redwood.

Lastly, We would NEVER ever stain a raised bed. If we did, the wet soil feeding the vegetables would permeate the lumber and get trapped inside the wood.. causing it to rot even faster!!

Besides as you can see from the nice before and after pictures a nice sanding goes a long way.

Until next time,

Farmer Jeff
photo 2 photo 4
photo 5

Jeff Mailes

Jeff Mailes is a garden designer and environmental educator working out of Woodland Hills, CA. A Los Angeles County Master Gardener and UC Davis Alumni, Jeff earned his B.S. in Environmental Resource Science in 2012 and has been growing edibles and natives for the past 6 years.

Jeff’s passion for plants and garden education has led him to school gardens from Los Angeles to Sacramento and all the way up to Portland, Oregon. Now familiar with ecosystems across the West Coast, Jeff has settled back home and works to bring people together over food and inspire the next generation of earth stewards to leave it better than they found it. When not writing about himself in the third person, Jeff enjoys singing with his guitar, going on camping and hiking excursions, and tossing a frisbee around with his friends.