At my house, we have 2 major problems, Gophers and Moles. So one of our goals was to have a garden we could keep gophers and moles out of.
It was pretty crazy to actually catch both animals in my yard.
In addition to that, we needed a separation in our yard to identify where our 26 month-old son was allowed to wander and not. With that in mind we looked to raised garden beds.
Though wood is a common material, we've had termite problems in the past and chose to stay away from attracting them again.
Eventually we came up with a solution. We had put in a vinyl fence a few years ago and had a leftover piece that we had cut from a full panel.
With that piece in hand we sought out what the expense was.
Step 1: Big Picture helps
A standard panel was $60 from Lowes, (plug) and had 11 vertical slats, meaning we could cut the panel into 2-slat pieces and have enough for 1 square bed with leftovers.
Making the corners turned out to be a frustration of sorts. How do you join two corners and still make it look good?
What metal material do you place in the bottom to keep the gophers and moles out?
Does it have to be metal?
Lowes apparently has broken or chipped panels regularly meaning they sold us one at half off, dropping the panel price to $30.
For the bottom, we chose to use Metal Lath, which came in approximately 28" x 96" pieces for around $8. With the final internal bed dimensions being close 67" x 67", the span would require 3 panels, i.e. $24. Yes we could've used chicken wire, but gophers and moles can squeeze through. Yes, we could've used welded wire project cloth, but we found that the prices were very close to just using the lath. We could've used expanded metal (steel) but one sheet was about $60 at the vendors in town I found.
For the corners, we chose to cut square vinyl posts into right angles. Since the 2-slat sides were 12" wide, the corners would need a 12" piece on the inside and the outside as shown in the pics.
That means 8 pieces per bed at a length of (2 pieces per corner/2 pieces per foot)*(4 corners per bed) = 4 feet. A single 8 foot post was approximately $20 and would make 2 beds. That's $10/bed.
Screws could be anything with enough bite to grab the vinyl and keep it together. You can use PVC adhesives though that can be very messy and even add a lot of cost. We used 8 screws in each corner and 6 screws along each side to attach the lath. To keep the joints together, you can use zip ties, weave bailing wire, any number of options. PVC glue cost us about $8 for the cleaner, prep and actual glue. And we all but used up the size of containers we purchased.
In addition, one thing we found was that the gap between the slats would become a frustration because of the inevitable "seeping" of dirt after rains, so we need to bond a strip of vinyl in the gap. The pieces we found were around $1.50 each for an 8' strip, so a total of $6 per bed.
Total cost of the bed: $30 + $10 +$24 + $6 + $12 = $82 (Super expensive, OUCH!)
But, it would match our fence (mattered to my wife but not so much to me)
AND it would last for a very, very, very long time. And probably outlast half a dozen wooden beds.
Plus the now vertical supports make for a very simple method of converting these into hot beds in the winter.