making my own landscape timbers??

I was planning on building a bunch of shelves in my basement, and bought a whole bunch of reclaimed 2x4's. Then my parents gave us a heavy duty plastic shelf, which impressed me, and I decided to use those down there instead.
This leaves me with a bunch of old 2x4's. They were very inexpensive - about 90 cents each, and are in good shape.
One project that I've been wanting to do is make some square shaped borders around a couple of fruit trees, and around the blueberry hedge I just planted. I have the lumber, but my previous experiences of:
1) painting 2) staining 3) Thompson's Water Seal 4) polyurethaning
did not turn out that well. I am tempted to try using boiled linseed oil on the wood, and see how well that works as a preservative. The other times I've tried it in the past, the wood has always cracked and warped within a couple of years. Considering how cheaply I can get these, I'd be happy if they just lasted 6 years laying out there in the yard.
Can any of you recommend a widely available method for treating these boards so that they will last a bit better when used as borders for beds and for mulch around fruit trees? I'd like to get on this project within a few days, to make my yard look neater, so I thought I'd check on here to see what the experienced folks had to say.
Thanks!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ohioguy wrote:

None of these will preserve timber that is in contact with the soil. For a start they have no preservative effect (they don't kill microbes that attack timber) and they are only shield the surface which will soon crack allowing water and bugs inside.

This isn't going to work either. To preserve a vulnerable type of timber (eg radiata pine) in contact with the soil takes some heavy duty poison and that is usually pushed into the timber by pressure treatmnent. You cannot do this at home.
Considering how cheaply I can get

You have left out a key item. What kind of timber are these posts? This will determine how long they last, if they are timber that is not suitable for external use (and many are in that class) then there is no chance of it lasting long in contact with soil.
David
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
>You have left out a key item. What kind of timber are these posts?
I am going to have to assume they are pine. Note that I don't need them to last "long", just "longer". I can put them out there with nothing more than a stain and probably get 2-3, or even 4 years out of them if I don't care how they look, and focus only on functionality. That is especially if I secure them by pounding small pieces of rebar down through the pieces. (bent at a 90 degree angle at the top)
I'd just prefer that it have *some* sort of protective soaked into the wood.
I may have to go back and look at a book I read from the library about a year ago. It was from the 70's, and focused on building a wood log home with no foundation. (deep posts only) There was a recipe in there for making your own "log dip", which I think was a kind of creosote preservative. I believe they dipped the wood in the trough for a couple of days, then let it dry in the air & sun for another couple of days before use.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If you want to dispose of the wood, just leave it lying on the ground. Depending on the climate, insects, etc, it could be gone in as little as 3 years.
Most lumber yards take returns.
If you are going to spend any time fabricating this, get the right wood, pressure treated rated for ground contact.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I didn't get this at a lumber yard. These came from a thrift store which has volunteers that go out and "reclaim" lumber from homes in the area that are being torn down. Surprisingly, many of these 2x4's are of superior quality to the new ones I've bought at Lowe's. Anyway, they were just 90 cents each, and I felt good because using them did not create any new demand for cut lumber.

Not really an option at this point - I already have the wood I want to use, I can't take it back, and I need to get it out of the basement to make room in the next couple of months. Since I also have a need for some sort of border edging, I might as well just find out what the best wood preservative I can use is. If I can't find anything else, I'll just use a copper naphthenate solution.
I guess my question right now is - what chemical is soluble in an oil based solution, with little or low solubility in water, and acts as an insecticide, and possibly with fungicide qualities as well? That is what I need.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 04 Jun 2010 09:15:02 -0400, Ohioguy wrote:

Paraffin wax dissolved in kerosene makes a pretty good completely non- toxic (after the kerosene evaporates) wood preservative. On a hot day you can make a solution of more than 50% wax, which will work better as a wood deck preservative than any readily available sealer/preservative you can buy.
If you can get the wood and wax hot enough during application you can skip the kerosene. I have some maple log sections used as campfire stools which I preserved by melting wax blocks on both ends in the sun on a hot day about 8 years ago, still in good condition long after the untreated sections have rotted away.
The price and flammability of wax are drawbacks, and probably accounts for the lack of much wax in commercial deck sealers these days.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not surprising. 2x4s used to measure 2x4 and protected wood just gets better with age.

My feeling is that it's a waste of time and money. You can paint on a copper preservative but for the money spent, time taken, I don't think it will add more than a year or two.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Since this salvage lumber is not rated for ground contact, before investing anymore money or labor you find some suitable above ground use, sell it, give it away, or use it for firewood. If this lumber is clean and as good quality as you claim why not donate it to your local high school for use in wood shop... they'll give you a receipt that you can use for a tax deduction. Typical builder grade framing lumber (fir/spruce) is not even suitable for outdoor use, not even if you paint it. Maybe you can use it to frame a new tool shed... roofed and sided it will be fine... but exposed to the elements you'll be lucky to get three years from it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.