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My next door neighbor pressure washes and waterproofs his 20 year old fence every year. The fence looks great after all these years, but I worry that this is polluting our soil when it oversprays through the slats. We dug up our patio to make more space for vegetables and the area is right near his fence. I wait until after he treats his fence to grow anything every year, but I am sure the chemicals are still there. Should I be concerned?
Do you know what he is using to waterproof the fence?
makes an interesting read, some of it quite alarming but
"Research on the use of CCA-treated lumber in gardens has shown that treatment chemicals do not affect the growth or safety of home-grown produce."
In actual fact the sealant could well be helping with any safety issues with the treated wood. Since it would probably keep the chemicals in the treated wood locked away. So it is actually a good thing that he treats his fence regularly.
On the other hand, how do you enjoy the veg you grow if in the back of your mind you are worrying about toxic chemicals? Even if there is no risk you still will not be happy. If you use weedkillers normally in the small print is a recommended time a few weeks where it says not to eat the veg in that area. So even where there can be a hazard after spraying it doesn't mean it will be for long.
I would be tempted to grow flowers and shrubs in that section of the garden or grow in containers that way you can feel confident about the food you produce. Although in actual fact there may be no risk at all.
To put your mind at rest, you really need to know the product that he is using to be able to judge if there is a possible hazard and the steps to avoid any harm.
If he uses chemicals like creosote to treat his fence then yes, they could leach into your soil when it rains, for example. That wouldn't be too great. Could you create a barrier say with a line pf bricks, for example, just along the back of your veg bed, where it borders his fence, to contain the soil on your side more?
The other option you could possibly consider would be to take out your bed altogether, and replace it with a ready made wood raised bed of the same sort of size (you can buy them for veg, or make them yourself). It would mena some work for you, but then since it's just a large, shallow box it wouldn't be prone to any leached chemicals from next door. Quite nice to have veg slightly raised up too, easier on you back and creates some height
It's highly unlikely that he is using anything toxic, unless he has access to controlled industrial product. Creosote was banned years ago in Europe.
Are you sure it's not just a preservative. If it's a waterproofing product such as a silicone rubber one then it would only need to be done once, not every year. Spray preservatives are usually just that, they preserve the wood, letting moisture in and out but stopping fungal rot.
A few years ago I noticed that in one section of my garden the plants had been attacked by what looked like downy mildrew, brown spots. It was even on my holly. I sprayed with fungus Fighter. A month later I noticed that all the new growth was healthy, and then the penny dropped. I asked my neighbour if he had used spray preservativbe, and he admitted that his son had got carried away with their new sprayer. All my plants survived and thrived.
If your neighbour used Cuprinol Spray preservative, this might reassure you:
"Cuprinol One Coat Sprayable Fence Treatment has been specially formulated to work with the Cuprinol Sprayers to colour and protect rough sawn timber in a fraction of the time. Its special pigments ensure rich colour and even coverage in just one coat. Cuprinol One Coat Sprayable Fence Treatment is quick drying, low odour and safe to use around plants and pets."