From patio decking to planters and raised garden beds, a little landscaping timber or landscape timbers can go a long way in completely transforming your outdoor space.
Doesn’t it always seem that any time you mention landscape gardening to someone, the conversation inevitably turns to landscape timbers?
Whether it’s breathing a whole new lease of life into a dull and lifeless garden or tidying up those tired, old flower beds, everyone seems to have their own ideas on how they can make the most of landscape timbers, this versatile and attractive material.
Yet when it comes to using it around your own home, you’re all out of inspiration.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Today, we offer 19 of the most brilliant landscape timbers ideas our gardening experts could conjure up.
We’ll show you how you can use different types of landscape timbers to build everything from remarkable raised flower beds and retaining walls to fantastic garden fences, stunning outdoor staircases, delightful decking and more.
If you’re new to using landscape timbers, we’ll also talk you through everything you could possibly need to know about how to choose, use, and protect the right landscape timbers for your project.
1: Landscaping Timber Fences
As this video shows, landscape timbers make an excellent garden fence that can be put up quickly and simply with no need for nails or cement.
It’s perhaps an obvious place to start, but who knows where you’ll end up when you start exploring the vast array of shapes, sizes, and colors you have at your disposal when it comes to building a fence out of landscape timbers.
Like the example in the video above, you may just need a quick, simple, and practical solution for keeping pets from going astray (or for preventing stray animals from visiting you!), but it’s entirely possible to make something much more ornate and decorative too.
Perhaps you could use long posts and natural timber boards to create a tall privacy fence or position boards at an angle to create a light, airy feel, or even create a fence with built-in shelves for displaying your prize Fuchsias.
When you’re done with the design, you can buy quality brand fence stain in a wide variety of colors to create a finish that perfectly complements the rest of your outdoor space.
2: Making Raised Beds with Landscape Timbers
One of the most popular uses of landscape timbers, creating a raised garden bed can add a whole new dimension to your garden while making it much easier to tend to your growing plants.
With so many gardening-based Pinterest boards crammed full of interesting and unique ideas for raised garden beds, it’s perhaps fair to say that this is one of the most widely popular uses for landscape timbers out there.
When you think about it, this is hardly surprising.
From an aesthetic standpoint, raised beds made out of timber add a sense of depth to your garden, creating a striking visual feature that disrupts the monotony of a single-level garden and drawing attention to your favorite flowers or vegetables.
There are practical uses of landscape timbers too.
For example, you can place a different type of soil in your raised bed than the one you have in the rest of your garden which allows you to grow a greater variety of different plants.
If you have mobility problems or struggle with back pain, you’ll also find that adding a raised bed is a very good idea.
After all, gardening with chronic pain is no fun at all, but by raising your plant beds with landscape timbers you can eliminate much of the uncomfortable bending down and other painful processes, helping you to once again find the joy in your garden.
Use Large Landscape Timbers for Quick and Simple Garden Beds
If the only thing putting you off building a raised bed is all that unnecessary hammering and drilling then you might want to consider investing in several large, heavy landscape timbers.
Providing you have someone to help you, these can be easily stacked on top of each other in such a way that their weight alone makes them difficult to budge.
As such, you end up with a solid, attractive planter with no screws or nails required.
3: Build a Garden Tool Shed With Landscape Timber
Have an abundance of leftover landscape timber lying around? This handy video explains just how easy it is to turn it into a useful garden tool shed.
We typically think of landscaping timbers being used to enhance the appearance of garden spaces, but as we’ve already seen with our raised flower beds, there’s no reason they can’t serve a practical purpose too.
Building a garden shed out of landscaping timber takes this idea to a whole new level, creating a safe, functional storage space that works just as well for stashing away spades and shovels as it does in ensuring your pricier items like lawn mowers and weed eaters are secure.
Though this may be one of the more challenging projects on our list, building your own shed out of landscaping timber has a distinct advantage over even the best-looking prefab sheds: landscape timbers allow you to design and finish your structure in a way that is perfectly in keeping with the rest of your backyard.
4: Create a Log Cabin Out of Landscape Timber
We can’t promise you stunning forest scenery, but we can promise you that putting together a beautiful log cabin made entirely from landscape timber is as rewarding a project as they come.
Like the idea of constructing an entire building out of landscaping timber but don’t have much use for a tool shed, maybe this idea may be more your thing.
A popular project for those developing a homestead, creating your own cabin out of landscaping timbers is a project that is as demanding as it is rewarding.
Whether you want to carve out your own private sanctuary at the bottom of the garden, or completely go off-grid and create a self-sustaining home-away-from-home in some peaceful, quiet location, this is your chance to create something you can truly be proud of, a testament to your ingenuity, creativity, and, yes, your hard work.
5: Build Your Own Herb Garden
An herb garden makes a great addition to any home, particularly if you’re passionate about cooking. Using landscaping timber to build yours gives it a natural aesthetic while taking much of the backbreaking work out of planting.
Prefer a timber project that’s a little less intense than a full-on log cabin?
Why not start with something smaller though nonetheless beautiful, like an attractive herb garden.
While there are lots of options for growing your own herbs, using landscape timbers to create a dedicated part of your garden for it has numerous benefits.
For one thing, it adds a rather charming, rustic feel to your space while ensuring your herbs get the right amount of soil and natural light that they need to grow.
For another, it can take much of the back-breaking work out of maintaining your herb garden, especially if you use large timbers to create a tall raised garden bed or create a vertical, multi-level herb planter similar to this beautiful cedar wood model from Ropedoncedar.
6: Build a Beautiful Planter Bench
There are scores of different ways to build a bench out of landscape timbers, but few look quite as good as this planter/raised bed and bench combo.
After all that hard work completing your big garden construction projects, nobody could blame you if you wanted to put your feet up and take it easy for a while, but why settle for any old seat when you could be kicking back on this stylish, modern bench with in-built planters?
The web is resplendent with tons of ideas for building garden benches out of landscaping timber, though let’s be honest, few look quite as cool as the planter/bench combo featured in this video.
7: Transform Your Pool Area
Landscaping timber is perfect for adding a stylish finish to your above ground pool area
An above-ground pool is usually the centerpiece of any garden, but if yours is looking a little drab and lifeless, it might be time to liven things up a little.
One of the most obvious ways to do that with landscaping timber is to build a whole new decking area around your pool. With enough space, you could extend that decking to make room for a couple of sun loungers and perhaps even a barbeque.
Yet while that is sure to add a great new look to your pool area, it’s just one of the many creative ideas you could try out.
To really draw attention to your pool, you could consider building a timber fence around it or perhaps combine it with other materials to create an attractive pool enclosure.
If you have any spare timber left over, it can always be put to good use in creating additional seating or perhaps a small table to set beside those loungers so that you’ve got somewhere to rest your drink while you go for a nice, relaxing dip.
If you are going to experiment with any of these outdoor pool ideas, be sure to choose timber that isn’t so susceptible to rot.
Cedar wood might be your best option here as it not only looks the part but is also naturally rot-resistant and can be strengthened even further with the appropriate wood sealant.
8: Blend Your Indoor and Outdoor Spaces Together
Treated with the proper wood stain, cedar wood is especially good for merging your outdoor and indoor spaces together by creating a consistent theme throughout.
You could, for example, use the same timber across your patio decking as you do in your kitchen or sunroom, or build your dining table and outdoor furniture from the same timber to keep the same visual style in all areas of your home.
9: Make a Stylish Swinging Bench
With a little ingenuity, some quality timber and a sturdy chain, you can create a gorgeous swing bench that’s perfect for whiling away those long, lazy summer afternoons.
Is there any better way to spend those long, hot summer days than relaxing on a traditional swing bench, watching the world go by with a refreshing glass of lemonade in hand?
Of course there is:
Enjoying all of that with the added satisfaction of knowing that beautiful, comfortable seat was built with your own two hands.
Sure, there are a lot of really good-looking porch swings available to buy, but nothing quite beats the feeling of creating your own bench that’s perfectly in keeping with the surroundings.
It could be a big money-saver too.
While top brand porch swings tend to retail for between $300 – $500, it’s possible to build your own with nothing more than $100 and a free afternoon.
10. Children’s Playground Set
Combine landscape timber with some sturdy rope and other essentials to create a full outdoor play area for your young ones.
While your porch swing may be designed for relaxation, there’s nothing to stop you using the same basic design to create a play swing for your young ones.
In fact, why stop there?
Grab some sturdy rope and a few other materials and you could build an entire playground complete with climbing frame, monkey bars, and other fun equipment,
IF your budget will allow, you may want to invest in steel, plastic or fiberglass and add it to your landscape timber to create a slide.
Of course, before you go about creating your kids’ dream playground, we’d be remiss if we didn’t advise you about safety.
After all, while it’s important for kids to have somewhere that combines fun with physical activity, nothing is more important than ensuring they play safe.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has a whole guide book on playground safety that you can access free of charge.
11: Get Creative with Timber Garden Border and Lawn Edging Ideas
Unless you’re going with a completely natural forest garden, the chances are you’ll want some kind of lawn edging or garden border in place to keep your outdoor space looking neat, tidy, and attractive.
This is where landscaping timber really comes into its own.
Not only do they create a natural-looking frame around your flower beds, lawn, or gardens, they’re also incredibly easy to install.
So, if you’re looking for a way to incorporate landscape timber into your garden that doesn’t require a lot of hard work, this might be the best way to go about it.
The easiest way to create stylish edging is to simply lay timbers horizontally around the edge of your garden and joint them in place where necessary, but why not get creative with it?
If you have the time and patience, you could experiment with cutting oval-shaped timbers into smaller pieces then standing them vertically to replicate the kind of log edging you might find at a gardening supply store.
Alternatively, splice a crack in your landscape timber edging and add LED lights to make your garden look truly magical once the sun sets.
12: Make Adorable Wooden Hanging Beds and Baskets
Hanging baskets are a familiar sight in many modern gardens, but have you considered making your own?
A quick and simple DIY project, building your own miniature garden beds or unique baskets can be a great way to use up any scraps of timber left over from your bigger projects.
When finished, your hanging garden bed can add a quaint, rustic look to your garden while displaying your favorite flowers, herb pots or even crops like quinoa.
13: Add a Natural Feel with Wooden Garden Stair Ideas
Using specially treated landscape timber to create your garden steps not only creates an attractive natural look but also ensures they’ll last a lifetime no matter what the elements may throw at them.
Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a growing trend in building garden steps and staircases out of railway sleepers.
Yet while that may be a pretty popular approach right now, it’s far from the only one.
Gather enough natural boards together, and you could replicate the kind of stairs you find at the beach to connect your decking to your garden walkway, use cypress or cedar to create an immaculately manicured path through your landscape, or make light work out of walking up any steep inclines in your garden by creating a small but useful timbered stairway.
14: Make Perfect Planters
Planters can be made into just about any shape, size, and style to fit any environment.
Along with raised garden beds and lawn edging, planter boxes are another popular use of landscaping timber.
Making an ideal project for newcomers, this can be as simple as crafting a small box similar to a raised bed and adding four vertical legs to it, or it can be as complex and creative as you like.
Try experimenting with different shapes and colors of landscape timber and see what unique designs you can come up with or take some inspiration from these garden planter ideas by Good Housekeeping magazine.
15: Build a Wooden Bridge for Your Pond or Water Feature
A timber bridge can make an impressive addition to your garden’s water feature while also redefining the way you use your space.
Bridges are a popular feature in both Japanese-style gardens and those themed after the most idyllic areas of the English countryside, serving as a unique focal point that adds something extra special to any outdoor space.
As with most garden features, it’s possible to buy a garden bridge that is already made for you, but going down this route doesn’t give you that authentic look that you only get when making your own.
Not that appearance is all that we’re going for here. Done right, a good timber bridge can be more than purely decorative. It can help you to do more with your space, making it easier to cross from one side of your garden to the other, or perhaps to keep different areas of your garden separate from one another.
16: Explore Brilliant Balcony and Patio Ideas
Landscape timber can be used for much more than patio decking. Use it to create planters, seating and other furniture to give your garden a true makeover.
It’s no secret that pressure treated landscape timbers make a solid, sturdy base for your decking, or that using cypress wood can give the whole area an agreeable finish, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for just the basics.
Redesigning your garden affords you a wonderful opportunity to really experiment with different ideas such as adding an extra level to your outdoor space by using pillared beams and natural boards to build a balcony.
Additional timber could then be used to create a spiraling staircase connecting your new level to your patio, or to add planters, seating, and other features in order to come up with a design that truly reflects your own personal style.
17: Enjoy the Shade of a Covered Pergola
Use treated landscape timber to create your own private pergola, a perfect sanctuary where you can rest, relax and escape from the hustle and bustle.
So far, we’ve talked a lot about using your garden for planting, creating and otherwise being busy, but what about those times when you simply want to get away from it all?
Building a covered pergola with a walled extension is a perfect way to carve out some space in your garden that is just for you. Consider it your haven, your sanctuary or your private retreat, a place where you can get away from the hassle and hustle and simply unwind for a while.
Much as with the balcony idea above, wide timber beams will prove useful here to hold your structure in place, while a variety of sun-warmed timbers will give your pergola that perfect paradise look you’ve been longing for.
18. Al Fresco Dining
Whether you fire up the barbeque or prefer a dining experience with a little more refinement, those warm summer evenings are perfect for stepping out of the dining room and enjoying your favorite foods al fresco style.
Yet rather than simply buying the same old garden furniture that everyone in the neighborhood seems to own, why not carve out something that’s perfectly suited to your individual taste.
Providing you’re careful to use non-toxic timbers, there’s something about building your own table and chair set that makes those summer meals taste even more delicious.
19. Build Landscape Timber Retaining Walls
Last but by no means least, retaining walls are an ideal solution for making the most of a sloping backyard.
Building multiple levels into your garden gives you more space to experimenting with companion planting or adding different soil types to grow different types of flowers and vegetables.
What’s more, by laying natural boards across some of your newly carved-out levels, you could add a timber stairway so that it’s easier to walk up and down that slope or incorporate additional seating next to your flower beds where you can sit and admire your handiwork.
How to Choose the Right Landscaping Timber
Now that we’ve got your imagination suitably fire up, the only thing left to decide is which kind of landscape timber you’re going to use for your project.
From the outset, it may seem as though the only contributing factor in that decision is aesthetic appeal, but there’s actually a little more to it than that.
Yes, it’s true that some timbers naturally look more attractive than others, so in many cases, the kind of wood you pick will largely be determined by the kind of look you’re trying to create.
But there’s another important factor at play:
How you’re going to use the wood.
Pressure Treated Landscape Timber
Not sure if treated landscape timber is right for your project? This video should make things clearer.
Some projects require you to place your timber into, or perhaps even underneath the ground. This could be to create a solid foundation for your patio decking or to build an area around your pool.
If that’s the case, then you’ll want to look for pressure-treated landscape timber as this is much more resistant to rot, decay, insects and water damage, ultimately making for a durable and long-lasting base.
Otherwise, you might want to choose one of these options for your new project.
At first, redwood timbers have a striking, vibrant look about them that makes them a perfect choice for gardens with a rustic feel to them.
Redwood is just as ideal for decking and retaining walls as it is for making garden furniture, planters, and bird tables.
However, as time goes on, you’ll find that its bold appearance begins to fade into a rather dull grayish-brown color. As such, you may want to invest in color sealants to help lock in that strong red finish for years to come.
Cypress wood makes a viable alternative to pressure-treated landscape timber as it is naturally rot-resistant, lasting for years without undergoing any special process. This also tends to make it much more affordable than other types of wood, redwood included.
Cypress woods are ideal for decking, floors, and pergola roofs, and look especially beautiful when varnished.
We like cedar a lot because it perfectly combines the striking attractiveness of redwood with the long-lasting durability of cypress.
As with redwood, cedar’s natural colors do fade over time, but using a product like Wood Defender’s famous Stain & Seal range, and you can apply any finish you like to create a whole array of bold and beautiful finishes that are perfectly in keeping with your garden’s aesthetic.
Frequently Asked Questions About Landscaping Timber
Is Pressure Treated Wood Safe Around Vegetable Gardens?
For the most part, yes it is.
Over the years, there has been a lot of controversy about the use of pressure-treated wood, especially as it pertains to its use in vegetable gardens.
It used to be the case that pressure-treated wood sold here in North America would contain a chemical known as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) which released arsenic into the soil. This arsenic could be absorbed into nearby vegetables and eventually absorbed by humans, for whom it is toxic.
However, in 2004, wood treated with CCA were taken out of the residential timber market in North America by the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is completely harmless to human beings and other warm-blooded mammals, fish and insects don’t react well to it.
It’s for this reason that even though it is perfectly safe to use pressure-treated wood around a vegetable garden, you should avoid using it around your garden pond.
How Do I Stop Landscaping Timber From Rotting?
Choosing pressure-treated woods and using a reputable brand of wood sealant like the popular Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane Gloss are perhaps the most basic precautions you need to take to prevent rot from ruining any wood you have in your garden space.
Yet they’re not the only steps you can take.
Rot typically occurs when water gets into the wood and doesn’t dry, so consider what steps you can take to prevent that from happening.
Where possible, build sloped surfaces so that, when it rains, the water slides right off again.
Depending on the type of project you’re creating, it might even be possible to set up your rain harvesting system to deflect much of the downpour away from your handiwork altogether.
If not, be sure to clean out any nearby gutters regularly as clogged gutters can cause a backlog of water to overspill onto your woodwork.
You should also consider countersinking and plugging your fasteners as even the best wood fasteners are prone to rust and can create divots that ultimately catch and retain rot-inducing water.
What Alternatives to Landscaping Timbers Can I Use?
Stone makes an attractive alternative to landscape timber for a variety of garden features
Whether it’s their cost, their tendency to rot, or simply the hard work involved in using them for your project, landscaping timbers aren’t for everyone.
Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t use other materials to create many of the ideas we’ve seen today.
Plastic Landscaping Timbers
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a proliferation of landscape gardening companies hitting the market with their own brands of plastic, timber-style materials.
Serving as an affordable, easy-to-use alternative to landscaping timbers, these versatile products can be purchased in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and even colors, meaning there isn’t much you can do with actual wood that you can’t do with their plastic counterparts.
Apart from the price factor, some people prefer plastic landscaping timbers as they don’t rot and are guaranteed not to leak any chemicals at all into the surrounding soil.
However, they’re far from a perfect solution as they don’t pack nearly as much strength as natural wood timbers, making them ill-suited for decking or any weight-bearing platforms.
Bricks and Stone
Tough, hard and long-lasting, bricks and stones are a popular landscape timber alternative that can be used for a diverse range of projects.
While they may be more commonly used for retaining walls, raised beds and similar structures, it’s always possible to get creative.
We’ve seen heavy stones used to create herb spirals, planters, and even charming stone garden bridges which add a truly unique sense of beauty to any garden space.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.