End of the line – for the deck

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Gardening Gone Wild is having its last photo competition for the year. The topic is “The End of the Line.” I wasn’t going to enter but with the deck-removal project in full swing, thought this might be interesting.

We rarely think about the end of the line when we are at the beginning. What happens to things we make and build when they get old? The plans for the deck were created by a landscape architect in 1984 for the previous owners of the house, who were good enough to pass them along to us when we bought it. Twenty-five years ago the deck was built with pressure-treated wood. The wood probably was treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). We will rake up all of the pieces and the top soil in an effort to remove this highly toxic stuff and I may have the soil tested afterwards to see what we have.

But more importantly we need to think about what we are doing. It is time to stop using poisonous materials in what we make. Plastics have been in the news this week (NY Times: Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash) – though it is not new. Even Nicholas Kristof wrote a piece about the health effects of plastic bottles. As I move ahead with gardening I am becoming more committed to the idea that everything I use must be “natural.” It needs to be made of materials that are not re-engineered in the lab. That means no pvc pipe, no plastic bender board for borders, no plastic at all (may be hard to do!), no pesticides, no herbicides, and no fertilizers, except to use up the ones I already own.

So here’s my entry to the GGW photo competition, and here’s to thinking about the beginning, the middle, and the end.






8 thoughts on “End of the line – for the deck

  1. I hate plastic stuff too. Even when it lasts, it doesn't look good. There's something about wood and metal that look like they belong in a garden. Your photo is wonderful, with great textures, showing the beauty in decay.

  2. Mary Delle

    Your entry photo is very interesting and does raise many questions. We do need to pay so much more attention to what we use. Wonder when plastic bottle will drown us– or plastic packing peanuts.

  3. Hurray for your take on the theme. As an organic gardener, I applaud your determination to stay natural. There are almost no plastics in my garden although there are certainly plenty of plant tags around. . .those the blue jays left alone. You are so right, we do need to start thinking about our choices and how they affect the whole system.<br /><br />Good luck in the contest.

  4. Thanks for your comments! <br /><br />I am now trying to find out how bad the CCA-treated wood is with regard to the soil and what to do about it. I&#39;ll post my findings.

  5. Did a bit of research a couple of years ago on alternatives to CCA. Was enough at the time for me to put off building structure I wanted near edibles. What I want is untreated, but the stuff that lasts (like douglas fir) is expensive. I&#39;ll email you some links to sites I looked at. By the way, I just signed up for your class on 11/21 at Theo Payne. Look forward to meeting you!

  6. Hi Janis. Thanks for the info. We will not be rebuilding the deck. I am just concerned about the residual toxins left in the soil from the old deck. Our plans are to put in a patio of some sort – probably flagstones or bricks on sand (non-toxic and long-lasting!) Looking forward to meeting you next weekend at TPF.

  7. Great thoughts and pics. I like your interpretation of the end of the line. Good luck!<br /><br />Thanks for adding my link -it is much appreciated.

  8. Teresa

    Terrific photo. That wood was most definitely at the end of the line. Your right, we hardly imagine what comes after when we are planning. We do need to be more conscious of the way we treat this Earth. Good luck with your project.

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