Metal raised garden beds, lead?

Hello everyone,
Rabbits have been chomping away at my strawberry plants and I figured its time to just get myself a nice and tall raised bed so that I can get a better harvest. There are some surprisingly cheap steel beds online now but most seem to be manufactured in China. Is there any concern for various contaminants from steel raised beds such as lead?

the steel itself usualy doesen’t contain significant amounts of lead.

Steel however rusts, especially in a wet/underground environment. And thus is likely coated with paint. And paints containing lead usually are more rust proof. It’s hard for us as random people on the internet to say though if your particular panel is painted lead free. Where i live. lead paint is banned, i think it is now to in the states. But i don’t know if they check with imported items.

Chinese product have been found with lead, spent uranium, antifreeze-in-dog food. chicken wire i cheaper.


do you have a source for the “spent uranium” claim? Seems far fetched to me.

In 2018 the State of Delaware banned the use of lead paint on outdoor structures.
Lead paint - Wikipedia

It seems like only recently lead paint for outdoor use was banned in some parts of the US.

So the part coming from china does not guarantee it has lead in it, the same as it coming from the US does not guarantee it’s lead free.

the reality is more complex than "if country X produced it, it must be “good” or “bad” "

Chine does however have more lacks consumer and environmental protection standards. Same could be said about the US for us in the EU though.

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The CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, a world renowned paper, posted articles off radioactive trick or treat kids pumpkins. same with dog food and lead. Why bury your nuclear waste when you can put infinitesimally small amounts in your trillions of tons of exports.


do you have A LINK to the specific article? Or a date of the issue? I would like to read it.

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To avoid poisoning concerns, You are better off and more economical to use either wood or roofing sheets. With wood use 4”x4” treated cedar verticals with 1”x4” cedar sides, then line the interior with black poly, to prevent wood rot by wet soils, and place brick supports under each vertical support to prevent rot. (First pic) Or you can make a rot proof bed with sewer pipe verticals and side supports with 2” galvanized pipes to keep roofing sheets in place for walls. (Second pic)


i looked through your links. but nowhere is spent uranium mentioned.

And if you google for toxic products produced in any country your bound to find a few hits.

I’m not claiming china has good consumer and enviromental protections. I’m just saying that simplifying to "country x produces “bad” or “good” " is not the whole picture

I think your risk from lead in steel is very low. There are other sources that I would be more concerned about. Lead paint was common at one time and is still found in older homes. If the paint is in bad shape you end up with flakes and dust that contain lead.

Leaded gasoline is still used in aviation so if you live near an airport you have a higher risk of exposure. There is also lead residue in soil near high traffic volume roadways since leaded gasoline was used for decades. The United States started moving away from leaded gasoline in 1975, in other countries the change over started much later.

Copper water lines used lead solder at one time and in even earlier times lead supply lines were used. In practice mineral deposits coat the lead in the lines and your exposure is not much of an issue as long the pH is kept basic. As for the paint on the steel I still think you risk is low. Even if leaded paint was used to coat the steel. There many other hazards that I would be concerned about before worrying about this.

Those are excellent links @poncirusguy I don’t have time tracking down all the downranked stuff in google nor Microsoft searches to appease certain people.

It’s important to remember that now if you buy non organic chicken in the USA it’s most likely processed in China and that they send our chickens to China and then those corporations supposedly process and send you those same chickens back even though they would make less money doing that :sob::joy:

It’s also important to remember that some of these same corporations put melamine in infant formula baby food and that Chinese citizens who are knowledgeable buy infant formula from Ireland. Well that corporation just bought the most popular infant formula corporation in Ireland so they can regain control.

@Adamsmasherz I went and bought Moore galvanized steel plates when I did my beds as they have way less lead somewhere between 0.02% and 0.4% depending on the source. Those are made in the USA

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I like your thinking. I’m about to add some very large raised beds at my place. I was planning on using treated wood for posts ,and metal roofing, but your pipe design makes more sense. These will be 18 " deep, and the first one foot of fill will be wood chips. Over time they have great drainage,but hold lots of moisture to help plants through the hellish droughts like the one we had last summer(still official drought in some parts of the Northeast. The plant roots do great down in the chips, getting nutrients as the chips break down . Lots of mycelium in the chips, but I put about 6 inches of compost on top of the chips for shallower roots.

Hi Brian,
This design has served me well. If you have no nearby trees, you need not put a root barrier in the bottom, I had to do this extra step to keep my cedar tree from invading into the bed. Also I might mention that I used an 18” wide black poly to seal the corners before filling. Like the idea of a wood chip bedding

I wouldn’t necessarily worry about it, because the most likely coating would be zinc, though there’s no way to know how pure that is. Regulations are a pain, but they do represent at least a try to avoid trouble, so the galvanized metal made hear is a safer bet. But of course many manufacturers in this country may import materials ,so it gets to be a crap shoot.

.As far as radioactivity, anyone who burns wood in the Northeast has probably handled low level radioactive waste. My wife once worked in a government lab that monitored radioactivity in the environment, and wood ash was generally radioactive because the tree had been exposed to particles back when atmospheric nuclear testing was done.

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More good ideas. I do have trees that would be happy the send in roots. One pile of chips I had was consumed before I even used it all.

If that’s your situation, you can put in what I call an “air layer” by arranging rows of brick or masonry blocks on the ground surface to support the roofing material. Being careful to have the spacing of about 8”-10” between each row of bricks to assure adequate support. Then overlap corrugated roofing by about 6” as the bottom to support your fill materials.
When you fill, do so evenly to assure roofing is evenly loaded as you fill. The 2-3” air layer between the soil surface and your roofing bottom prevents all root penetration since roots cannot grow in air!

Btw the roots also cannot escape from your bed if you plant something with aggressive roots like raspberry or ginger root.