No need for chemical treatments on your deck or pergola. These woods stand up to weather, insects and time beautifully on their own.
Back in the day, farmers used local trees to create rot-resistant fences at their property line. In New England, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) was the preferred tree. Midwest farmers planted thorny Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) to delineate their property lines and keep farm animals contained. Sometimes they used living stakes and let them grow into a living fence-hedge.
Both black locust and Osage orange can be seen growing as hedgerows in these regions today. Those farmers had the right idea to use naturally rot-resistant wood to create low-maintenance fences. It was a locally available building material that required little maintenance.
Source wood that is naturally rot resistant and local to create gorgeous natural surfaces in your garden.
Why Use Wood Today?
From a design standpoint, wood surfaces are very intriguing, with their color modulations, weathering and variety of textures. Woods have a huge range of aesthetic expressions, from wild, bumpy log posts to refined decks sanded smooth. Wood has an undeniable warmth and an association with woodlands and natural landscapes, and one type of rot-resistant wood can be used in a variety of ways. From an environmental standpoint, wood is a great choice when it is locally sourced and sustainably harvested.
8 Rot-Resistant Woods
Naturally resistant woods that are commercially available include black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), teak (Tectona grandis), ipe (Tabebuia spp.), California redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). These have the highest resistance to rot over time.
Ipe deserves special mention because there are so many available products that use this beautiful wood. Ipe is sourced from the tropical tree genus Tabebuia, also known as trumpet tree in South Florida. It is an extremely dense wood that weathers beautifully over time to a light silver-gray. Ipe has been in vogue for years, and many types certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are available.
Various woods, especially the tropical hardwoods, like teak and ipe, come in and go out of fashion in the building industry and can have a high potential for commercial exploitation. Use lumber that has been certified as sustainable by the FSC. Wood that is FSC certified will be clearly labeled with the FSC certification logo.
Additional woods with medium resistance to rot include loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), European larch (Larix decidua) and western redcedar (Thuja plicata), shown here. The type of rot-resistant wood you decide to use will ultimately come down to cost, availability and desired style.