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How to Start Home Gardening in West Virginia (WV) for Beginners: For Indoors, Outdoors, Raised Beds, Backyards, and Containers

You’ll feel more pride in yourself when you grow your fruits and vegetables rather than just eating them. Unfortunately, if you aren’t a born gardener, you might find yourself lost in what to put in your soil. This article will give you the groundwork you need to start growing your vegetables, whether you want to do it so that you can get some fresh air and exercise so that you can save money, get your family to eat healthier, or for any other reason at all.

How to Start Home Gardening in West Virginia (WV) for Beginners
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Below we learn home gardening in West Virginia, about different home gardens for WV, how to create an indoor home garden in WV, how to create a container home garden in WV, how to create a backyard home garden in WV, about the hardiness zones of WV state, and different fruits and vegetables that can be grown in WV home gardens.

How to start home gardening in West Virginia (WV) for beginners

Is West Virginia good for gardening?

The climate in West Virginia is perfect for growing vegetables. This region has it all: warm enough summers for warm-season crops and genuine spring and autumn for cool-season crop production. The map of planting zones approximates the typical weather patterns that prevail in a certain region. It is based on the region’s earliest and final frost dates and is used to determine when certain crops should be planted.

As a result of elevation and other variables, plant zones are determined. Although frost or mild freezing is usually not a problem for cool-season crops, warm-season crops should not be planted until after the latest frost date in the region has passed. After the last frost date, gardeners can safely move their seedlings outside to grow.

When should you plant a garden in West Virginia?

Planting in the spring is recommended in climates where frost might occur as early as September. The best time to plant is after the final frost of April. It’s ideal for the soil to be in the upper 40s to low 50s F by then. Gardeners should consider when the last frost typically occurs in the spring in their area. Southwest West Virginia and areas near the Ohio River and the southeast Ohio border often have their final spring frost in late April.

The middle of May is a more accurate timeframe in the state’s eastern and north central regions. The northern mountainous portion of the state often experiences its last spring frost in late May. Removing mulch from beds and planting areas at least ten days before planting helps the soil warm up faster and improves the chances of a successful planting.

Dig a deep hole to loosen the soil wide enough so the roots can spread out without needing to be bundled or folded. Keep the space between you and the wall large to prevent coiling and the resulting girdling. As a general rule of thumb, holes for plants should be at least twice as deep as their root systems and three times as wide. Burying the plants at the same depth they were at the nursery or in the container can help them thrive.

Does West Virginia have good soil?

There are five primary land resource regions in West Virginia. Northern Appalachian Ridges and Valleys include the eastern Panhandle, while Southern Appalachian Ridges and Valleys make up the state’s southern portion. The valleys’ soils are composed of limestone or shale. Lands are virtually flat to gently sloping, well-drained, and shallow (20 inches or less to bedrock) to deep (60 inches or more) on shale and limestone, respectively. 

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In general, shale soils have a medium texture (loamy and silty), a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, and a moderate to low level of fertility. Soils found in limestone formations are typically medium to fine in texture (silty or clayey), have a neutral to slightly alkaline pH range, and have average to good fertility. There are some very fertile soils here. The soils of the mountains are mainly composed of sandstone and shale. They range from moderate to deep, with a moderate to low pH and fertility, and a loamy to a sandy texture.

A land resource region, the Eastern Allegheny Plateau and Mountains can be found to the west of the Ridges and Valleys. This region has the state’s highest altitudes. Shale, acid sandstone, and siltstone are the primary constituents of the region’s soils. The texture is moderate, and the pH and fertility levels are low. The soils are particularly nutrient-poor because of the geological components they developed from.

The soil at the state’s highest altitudes is often the most deficient in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus of any soil type in the state. When plants die, their nutritional content decays and is returned to the soil. The Central Allegheny Plateau is a flat area between the Allegheny Mountains and the Ohio River in the state’s northwest corner. Soils produced on sandstone, shale, and siltstone range from moderate to deep; drainage is good; the texture is medium to fine, and the depth is moderate to deep.

Different soils have varying levels of fertility and pH because of their different parent materials. The land near the Ohio River is some of the most fertile in the state. The state’s southern region is home to the Cumberland Plateau and Mountains, two regions rich in natural resources. Long, steep side slopes are interspersed with short, steep ridgetops and small stream basins in this rough region. Soils range from medium to fine texture, have low to moderate fertility, and have a neutral to slightly acidic pH.

Glaciers never covered West Virginia, but they nevertheless impacted parts of the state’s soils. In certain soils at higher altitudes, patterns on the ground and other indicators of a colder climate have been discovered. A glacier lake was produced in the Teays Valley region of present-day Ohio when the old Teays River was dammed. The lakes left behind remnants of terraces that are still visible today. The silts and clays that settled out of the lake waters into the resulting soils had a fine texture, creating relatively well-drained soils.

What growing zone is West Virginia?

Most West Virginia has a climate and planting zones characterized as humid subtropical. You may expect cold but relatively moderate winters and humid, scorching summers in much of the state. In the winter, lows may drop into the upper teens, while highs in the summer can approach or even exceed the triple-digit mark. However, the average summer temperature throughout the state is comfortable at 80 degrees.

A temperate mountain climate may be found in the southern highland districts of the state, where the altitude enhances the severity of the climate. Here, summers tend to be milder, and winters are often mild. Precipitation totals each year might vary from the low 30s to the high 50s, or even more, depending on where you live. There is a high frequency of precipitation in the state, with an annual average of about 200 days of rain or snow. West Virginia weather is often characterized by thick fog and overcast sky.

You must first determine your planting zone before making any garden plans. Use an engaging planting zone map to help you pinpoint your location. The state of West Virginia spans growth zones 5a-7a, with most of it being within zones 6b-7a. Only the central and eastern parts of the state experience colder climates. Visit a nursery near you if you need assistance determining what West Virginia planting zone you are in or making plant selections.

Choose plants that can thrive in your zone or one that is lower. It’s safe to assume that any plant designated for hardiness zones 1 through 5 will survive the winter in zone 5a. West Virginia has diverse plants and animals. West Virginia gardens benefit from including great laurel, tobacco blossom, aquilegia, and New England aster. Many types of veggies thrive in this climate. Vegetables like beets, carrots, beans, cabbage, peas, spinach, and tomatoes will flourish in this climate.

What fruits and vegetables grow in West Virginia?

Some of the most successful vegetables to grow in West Virginia include asparagus, beans, brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, broccoli, cantaloupes, chards, collards, corn, carrots, cauliflower, watermelon, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, radishes, sweet potatoes, peppers, peas, lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, onions, okra, mustard, gourds, squash, eggplants, pumpkins.

What plants can grow in West Virginia?

West Virginia is home to an exceptionally diverse plant and animal life collection. The presence of great laurel, tobacco bloom, aquilegia, and New England aster in West Virginia gardens is beneficial. This environment is ideal for growing a wide variety of vegetable varieties. In this environment, vegetables such as beets, peas, spinach, carrots, cabbage, beans, and tomatoes will grow to their full potential.

When should I plant tomatoes in WV?

Do not plant tomatoes outside until all risk of frost has gone, and the soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While most gardeners in southern West Virginia can safely transplant tomatoes during Mother’s Day weekend, individuals in northern West Virginia and those who live at higher altitudes may need to wait another week or two. West Virginia gardeners should be aware that frost and freezes can occur as late as the month of May.

Whether they were started inside or outdoors, Tomato seedlings need to be hardened before being planted in the garden. Ten days before transplanting, expose plants to outside environments for short periods. As a first step, prepare a location out of the way of any strong gusts and with filtered light for your plants. Tomato seedlings should be placed outside for longer daily, exposing them to sunshine and wind.

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Watering seedlings more often is necessary throughout the hardening-off phase because they lose water at a much faster rate outside than inside. When it’s below 55 degrees, bring your plants inside. Tomatoes are vulnerable to freezing below this point, which can cause development to slow down and, in the case of early fruit, a condition known as cat-facing. Dig a hole two times as wide as the tomato seedling and its root ball using a trowel. Plant the seedling at the same depth you had it in its pot.

Tomatoes benefit from having their stems planted up to their initial set of leaves, allowing more room for the roots to spread out. If only tall plants can be obtained, they should be planted at an angle of 30 degrees in a trench deep enough to bury everything except the top 5 or 6 inches. The buried part of the stem will send out roots from there. An uncovered peat pot can drain moisture from the soil, drying off transplant roots, so make sure the whole pot is hidden below the soil surface if your seedlings are growing in peat pots.

How long is the growing season in West Virginia?

The growing season in West Virginia lasts for different amounts of time in different regions. The average first day, or final frost date, is between September 1 and 15. The growing season ends when the first frost of autumn arrives, anywhere from April 16 to May 31.

What is West Virginia’s climate?

Seasons in the state are roughly the same in duration. Average yearly temperatures vary from approximately 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) in the south to 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) in the north and 48 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius) in the highest mountain areas, reflecting latitude and height, respectively. Across the state, temperatures range from a low of 33 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) in January to a high of 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius) in July. 

The length of the growing season varies from 120 to 180 days on average. West Virginia is located in the westerly winds latitude zone; hence the predominant storm tracks, fronts, and wind directions blow in from the northwest, west, and southwest. The mountainous regions get an average of more than 60 inches (1,520 mm) of precipitation each year. In contrast, the rain shadow region to the east of the mountains receives an average of just 35 inches (890 mm). Snowfall averages less than 20 inches in the southwest and more than 64 inches (1,620 mm) in the eastern highlands.

How do I start a backyard home garden in West Virginia?

Choosing an ideal location 

It is very advised that a location be chosen that is near a source of water in the case that the summer growing season is dry. Even in dry seasons, it is possible to keep plants alive by manually watering them or running water to them via pipes. It’s great to have a garden close to the house. It must be in a location that receives sufficient sunlight and has no subsurface obstructions, such as trees. Vegetables will have a tough time flourishing in an area with shade trees because of the increased competition for available nutrients and water.

Soil preparation for your backyard home garden 

The ideal environment for plant roots is soil rich in decomposed organic matter, well-drained, and loose. Manure should only be used in its composted form or as green manure and applied in the autumn after harvest to allow for sufficient decomposition before spring planting. Testing the soil is the first step in figuring out how much fertilizer to use on your crops. The optimal pH range for most vegetables is between 6 and 7. Many soils in West Virginia are acidic. Therefore, a soil test will tell you whether you need to add lime to raise the pH.

All plant components need nitrogen (N), which gives plants their characteristic green color and promotes plant development. Phytoplankton needs phosphorus (P) for proper growth, including expansion of their root systems and maturation of their seeds. Potassium (K) makes fruits sweeter and is essential for plant growth and water and nutrient transportation. Three digits representing N-P-K percentages are often seen on fertilizer labels. If you were to buy a 50-pound bag of 10-10-10, you’d get five pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

It’s vital to know what you’re getting since a 19-19-19 has almost double the nutrients but may not cost twice as much. Most home gardens only need a tiny amount of fertilizer. Practicing just using a small quantity of fertilizer during planting is common. The recommendation is to return and added more after the plant has grown a few inches taller to nourish the roots. Soil testing is the greatest technique to determine how much of a nutrient, or lack thereof, a plant requires to thrive.

Start planting your backyard home garden 

Seeds of certain plants perform better if planted outside as soon as the soil is warm enough. Some examples include beets, carrots, cucumbers, beans, lettuce, peas, radishes, squash, and turnips. Others are better off being started in a container and then moved. These can be started by the individual or bought already established. Transplants are often used to grow crops, including broccoli, eggplant, cabbage, pepper, tomato, and many herbs. 

Pick for disease- and insect-free plants to avoid any potential problems. Plant them below the container’s soil line and gently pack the soil around them. Tomatoes can be planted beyond the recommended depth indicated on the container’s soil label since the plant will continue to send out roots from the base. Cucumbers, squash, and melons are all simple to produce from seed, but they are also available as transplants.

Water and weed your garden 

In hotter regions, plants only need an inch of water once a week. Don’t expect the plants to survive without supplemental watering if it doesn’t rain. Water from rain barrels, a local river, or a lake can be piped and used to water plants in a garden. One inch of water each week should be plenty for the garden. Deep, infrequent watering is inferior to a shallow, more regular one.

As the roots are brought closer to the surface by sprinklers, they are more at risk of being damaged by hoeing and sun baking. Put out a transparent container with half-inch markings so you can monitor the amount of water your plants have received. Each week, give your garden 1.5 inches of water. If you want to prevent a dripping mess on your sheets after watering, it’s best to do it in the morning or early afternoon, when the leaves have more time to dry.

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Wet leaves are a breeding ground for mold and mildew. A decrease in evaporation rate can be seen on days with more clouds in the sky. Therefore, they are the most suitable alternative. The water content of vegetables is quite high. Dry weather might stunt the growth of certain vegetables, leading to a lesser yield and harsher food. A necessary evil, weeding, must be done. Its worth goes much beyond how pretty it looks in the garden.

Unwanted weeds are plants that have sprung up in your garden without your permission. Because of this, the plants you care about will die. They take up essential growth areas and waste resources like water and fertilizers. Successful crop production depends on eradicating invasive weeds, which threaten agricultural land. Following a rainstorm, while the soil is still damp and soft, is an ideal time for a wedding.

After that, pull the whole thing out of the ground, roots and all. Weeds are much simpler to remove when they are little plants. Weeding is crucial because it stops weeds from producing seeds. These lost seeds will eventually decompose into the ground and produce new weeds. Wait until a cluster of plants forms a distinct straight line before labeling it as a weed or a crop. If you plant veggies, they will grow in straight lines instead of jumble like weeds.

Controlling pests and diseases in your backyard home garden 

The best way to deal with pests and diseases is to prevent them from ever happening. Before pesticides, IPM used cultural controls to reduce insect populations and disease transmission. Gardeners can choose disease-resistant cultivars, rotate crop areas, buy healthy plants, sterilize tools and equipment, use adequate plant spacing to enable proper air movement, trellis if possible, and water plants near the base and in the morning, manage weeds by mulching or weeding, scout for pests and eliminate them early. At the same time, their numbers are low and correctly identify insemination. 

If you need help identifying a sample, you can send it to your regional WVU Extension office. Pesticides should be used only when necessary and only by the directions on the label. Because of the risk to pollinators, crops in bloom should never be sprayed with insecticides.

How do I start a container home garden in WV?

Choosing the containers 

One of the first considerations for an outside space should be its layout, which includes an in-ground garden. Since gardens in containers can be relocated without much effort, you can put this concern off for now. Moving your plants about as the season progresses can be necessary to adjust for changes in light and shade or to prevent any plants from becoming smothered. If the container is big enough, you can produce just about every typical vegetable or fruit crop.

Cultivating root vegetables and tubers is significantly more challenging, and they need particularly big pots to accommodate their expansive root systems. Marrows and watermelons, like pumpkins, have vining plants that send out roots at each node, making container cultivation challenging for mature plants. However, it is not difficult to succeed at growing the most typical garden vegetables.

It’s recommended that the container’s depth be about equivalent to its diameter. Growing tomatoes, for instance, may you have heard that plants should be set at least 4 feet apart. Any size pot less than two feet in diameter will be enough in this situation. Whereas herbs can thrive in even the tiniest pots, the roots of fruiting plants need more room if they yield a plentiful crop. If you have the storage room for bigger containers, don’t waste money on smaller ones.

Ensure drainage

The roots of your plants will be contained if you adhere to the size recommendations. They clump together when they get near the container’s edge or bottom. When it comes to “feeding” and “watering” the plant, the growth matrix has to have proper drainage. Plants need a soil substitute or potting mix that allows water to flow freely, so fill each container to the brim. Unless your containers are rather big and set only slight limitations on the root systems, soil, particularly nutrient-rich garden soil, is rarely a viable option.

This soil is heavier to move about than potting mix, making it challenging to relocate containers loaded with it. Add enough potting soil to each container, so it is full, and then add a little more to create a mound in the middle. Using a board or ruler, gently push down on the top layer to remove it. This allows the roots to expand as far as they can within the confines of the container without harming the plant. Avoid compacting the potting soil by shaking the pot or other container.

Once the potting soil has been watered for the first time, it might get compacted. Some potting soil might seep through the openings as the growing season advances. Watering will be easier if the “soil” is kept below the container’s rim. Remove any stones or gravel from the bottom of the container. Despite popular belief, this does not improve drainage. Permanent potting soil soaks up excess water. If you left a sponge full of water on the ground, the water would be absorbed by the soil.

Plants benefit from compost, but adding too much to a container might lead to water pooling and root rot. Compost tea can be used as a “plant food” in container gardening with compost. Nowadays, it’s common to find time-release fertilizer in commercial potting mixes. You should look for an alternative fertilizer formula that does not include this material.

Growing vegetables in pots require extra attention to ensure the plants receive what they need without encouraging rapid development, damaging the plant’s root systems. Consider the scenario when you have bought potting soil that already contains fertilizer. Before planting, clean it with water to eliminate soluble debris. The excess water can be used to hydrate your plants.

Water your container home garden 

Soak the potting mix well before watering the plant to avoid rotting the roots. When water starts to leak through the holes, that’s when you’ll know. As soon as the container is watered, all of the root hairs should be able to reach the water. Before rewetting the potting mix, let the top half-inch dry. Once the water in the potting soil evaporates, the dark black tint will fade to a muted grey.

The leaves curling or withering of your plants are also symptoms of water stress. Before the next watering, make sure the container is fully dry. If you don’t water your plants enough, the potting mix may dry up, stressing the roots and limiting their capacity to absorb water and nutrients. Water your plants well often to keep the potting soil moist, even if it drizzles outside. Once the container is received and allowed to dry nearly completely, there is no danger of “overwatering” while using potting mix.

Fertilize your container garden 

Veggies grown in containers have shorter root systems and need less water and fertilizers. In this case, the plants need a fertilizer boost. Diluted water-soluble fertilizer is provided to plants regularly, and the plants flourish. You can use “normal” liquid or granular organic fertilizers on your plants, such as compost tea, seaweed extract, and fish hydrolysate. More frequent applications at lower concentrations than recommended will promote optimal plant growth. It’s best to apply the fertilizer slowly over time.

If you wish to space out your fertilizer application, add 1/4 cup every other week instead of the recommended 1 cup every month. The plant receives the same amount, with no excessive or erratic dosing. Avoid damaging the plant by over- or under-watering by giving it just the right water at the right time. Documenting your research can aid you in making informed decisions about your future actions.

To utilize the fertilizer in the container, it must be diluted first. It might be more efficient to “feed” and “water” simultaneously. Completely soaking the potting soil in the solution is ideal since it guarantees a steady supply of nutrients to the plant’s roots. The diluted fertilizer solution is best mixed in stages using a large watering can or multiple buckets.

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The plant’s roots will thrive in the low-nutrient environment created by fertilizing just the top layers of a container. If the solution is too thick, it might “burn” some of the topmost roots. Don’t over-fertilize. If you want your plant to develop even more but has stunted roots, try giving it a dose of additional nitrogen. A plant’s leaf coloring may reveal a lot about its overall health.

If you accidentally overwater or apply too much fertilizer solution, give the plant another thorough soaking until all the water has run out of the container. Useless fertilizer is eliminated in this way. You don’t need to “feed” a plant with green leaves before fertilizing; if you haven’t already overexerted yourself, you may put off doing the work until tomorrow.

How do I start an indoor home garden in WV?

Identify a suitable location to house your plants first. Tables, windowsills, corridors, and rooms are all within your reach. If you need a plant stand but don’t have much area on the floor for one, look into a vertical option. Sufficient room is a must for any undertaking to succeed. You are restricted in the number and kind of plants you can have in your home. The ability of plants to transform solar energy into the energy needed to fuel chemical and biological processes is fundamental to their growth.

That is to say; they engage in photosynthesis. Your houseplants need bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day. Grow lights must be fitted if access to natural light is limited. Keep young plants away from curious dogs and youngsters since they are easily damaged and fatal if ingested. Plants grown inside should be kept in containers rather than hard floorings like hardwood, linoleum, or carpet. There’s no need to acquire a certain kind of container for your flowers.

Drainage holes must be present for the soil to stay in a planter. The holes need to be fitted with a drainage saucer or something similar to catch the water that seeps through. The container size used to grow the plants is specific to certain species. While a dwarf citrus tree only requires 5-15 gallons of the pot, herbs like oregano and basil can thrive in containers as small as 8-10 inches. Pick a container just right for your plant to prevent it from being too crowded. Your seedling has outgrown its current container.

Therefore it’s time to make the transition to something larger. So, you’ll need some kind of medium to help things along. Except when using sophisticated methods like hydroponics or aeroponics, the soil is required for plant growth. Many bag sizes are available for potting mixes from various retailers. Choose an organic blend if you can, and research whether or not there are products made especially for the crops you want to grow. Don’t introduce unwanted insects or molds into the residence.

Soil surrounding buildings can get tainted with chemicals that seep out of the foundations. It’s possible that the soil around your older property was formerly treated with banned termite-killing chemicals. Think of lead, another contaminant that can accumulate to dangerous amounts in the ground and air surrounding older structures. If you want your indoor plants to thrive and provide healthy fruit and vegetables, they need to be exposed to enough light.

Daylight that filters in via windows and glass doors is superior to artificial lighting since it uses no additional energy and already has the optimal range of wavelengths. During the summer, the sun is at its lowest in the sky to the east and west, making them the best orientation for windows. Due to the sun’s early morning rise, heat builds up more quickly in western exposures than eastern ones.

South-facing windows are ideal for indoor gardening in the winter since they let in more light during the shorter days. The summer sun may not provide enough direct light for plants. You’ll need to rely on artificial lighting unless you have access to a sunny window. Indoor gardeners experimenting with different lighting setups have found that inexpensive shop lighting yields good results. Professional gardeners often recommend spending more on broad-spectrum lights that replicate the sun’s color range.

There’s a chance that employing one of these lamps to germinate seeds would provide excellent results. LEDs and their fluorescent cousins are readily available. If you care about your plants’ safety, you should avoid using incandescent lights, which can cause severe burns. The upper level of a metal shelf unit may be used to store grow lights, while the lower level can store plant containers and seed starters.

Vertical gardens cleverly use vertical surfaces, such as the vertical space provided by a bookshelf or other tall storage structure. Water is essential for plant survival. The water they need inside might vary with the temperature and humidity outside. In the summer, air conditioning can help alleviate the oppressive heat and humidity of the outdoors by removing these elements. Keep an eye out for signs of dryness in your plant life.

Often, the leaves will be the first to exhibit signs of dryness. Watering plants inside involves nothing more than a watering can, as opposed to sprinklers, drip lines, and hours of sweltering in the scorching sun while manually pulling the nozzle at the end of a filthy hose. You should start with a less formidable can while you get your feet wet. Place restocking materials conveniently by the sink. To prevent flooding your plants, use a small-nozzled watering can.

If plant growth and harvesting are to have any lasting effect on soil fertility, they must be counterbalanced by reintroducing new nutrients to the soil. Due to their confined conditions, indoor plants need a more potent fertilizer. Never forget that you wash away vital soil nutrients every time you water. Prepared fertilizer mixes are available. Also, if you’re feeling very bold and eco-conscious, you can compost your leftover food and yard debris.

Even if you’re composting in a tiny space with many other people, you don’t need to have them all wear masks. Worms can convert decaying food into rich, black soil when properly used. But the bokashi technique from Japan employs “pre-fermented” compost by injecting bran grains with helpful microorganisms.

What do I put on the bottom of a raised garden bed on concrete?

Put some kind of drainage material at the base of your bed. It is recommended to use geotextile membranes and fill raised beds with at minimum 3 inches of coarse gravel or stones if constructed on top of concrete or asphalt. This won’t happen since the barrier prevents drainage debris from reaching your soil.

What kind of wood should I use for raised beds?

The inherent decay resistance of cedar makes it an excellent choice for garden beds. White cedar, yellow cedar, and juniper are alternatives to western red cedar that are just as good for outdoor construction. Redwood is also a great choice since it doesn’t rot. However, the lack of resources is much more severe now. Longevity is affected by both the kind of cedar utilized and the local climate.

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