Protected Garden Enclosure

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Introduction: Protected Garden Enclosure

Growing up, we always had a backyard garden. It was great having fresh home grown vegetables in the summer.

Since moving to a wooded area though, it's been impossible. Any attempt to make a garden quickly turns into a 5 star restaurant for all the local wild life. Putting up a fence isn't an effective solution. Birds, squirrels and other critters can still get over the fence and feast on the vegetation. I decided that, if I was ever going to have a garden, it was going to have to be completely protected from top to bottom. Unfortunately I've never been able to manage the time.

Last year changed that. Most of us were forced to spend time at home during the pandemic, and we had a lot more time on our hands, so I decided it was time to go for it.

I regret not taking more step by step pictures, but I'll do my best to outline the steps and list the materials used.

Supplies

This is an approximate list of supplies I used from Lowes:

Pressure Treated Lumber

(4) 4”x4”x8’

(12) 2”x4”x8’

(2) 2”x4”x16’

(2) 2”x4”x12’

(2) 2”x8”x16’

(2) 2”x8”x12’

(1) 1”x4”x8’

(20) 1”x2”x8’

Tenax Net Folded 100-ft x 7-ft Black Polypropylene No Dig Containment Extruded Mesh Rolled Fencing
Item #53046Model #400066

GARDEN CRAFT 50-ft x 2-ft Gray Steel Chicken Wire Garden Poultry Netting Rolled Fencing Item #492400Model #182450S

Power Pro One #10 x 3-1/2-in Bronze Epoxy Flat Exterior Multi-Material Screws (1-lb)

BOERBOEL 7-3/4-in White Gate Latch Item #982864Model #73025491 National Hardware 2-Pack 5.388-in Zinc

Gate Hinge Item #674897Model #N220-137 Arrow 1/2-in Leg x 3/8-in Medium Crown 18-Gauge Heavy-Duty

Staples (1250-Count) Item #91431Model #50824SP

Simpson Strong-Tie 2-in x 1.38-in x 2.05-in 18-Gauge Steel Angle Item #96871Model #A21Z

Simpson Strong-Tie 2-in x 2.75-in x 2.05-in 18-Gauge Steel Angle Item #97194Model #A23Z

QUIKRETE QUIKRETE 80-lb High Strength Concrete Mix

Step 1: Location.

I can't stress how important it is to get this right. Most plants will want strong sunlight which means at least 6-8 hours of direct unobstructed sunlight. Note: if your building adjacent to a shaded area to the North, be aware that the shade line will move several feet South from March to June as the sun reaches the summer equinox, so plan accordingly.

Step 2: Prepare the Area.

Ideally, you want the garden be as level as possible, and graded smooth with good rich top soil, and remove any large rocks and stones.

I decided for my purposes, a 12'x16' garden would be a good size. I was able to get the ground level from front to back. Based on the overall grade of the property, I decided I could live with a 5 degree slope from the left side to the right.

Step 3: Building the Base.

I set the planks in place. Using a level, and a carpenter’s square, I got each plank to stand level and perpendicular to the adjacent planks. It was necessary to dig away at the high spots and fill in low spots with stones and dirt to get everything level. Once I had all the boards level and square, I screwed them together to form the rectangular base.

Step 4: Building the Walls.

I needed the walls to be strong enough to support fencing and a roof, but also maximize the amount of sun exposure. I settled on 4x4 posts for the corners, and 2x4s for the rest of the vertical members. For stability, I buried the corner posts about 12 inches deep and set them in poured concrete. With the posts set in place and attached to the base, I mounted 2x4s across the tops to form the side walls, then attached 3 vertical 2x4s spaced evenly in between the corner posts. With the two side walls in place, I connected the walls with 2x4’s across the top to form the front and back walls, adding two more vertical members spaced evenly apart.

Step 5: The Door.

For my application, I decided to place the door on one of the side walls for minimal impact to the sun exposure. I wanted a 36 inch door, so I built the door frame 37 inches wide, allowing for clearance on either side. I constructed the door from 2x4s, with 1x4 boards as diagonal trusses to keep the door from flexing.

I used half inch shims on the bottom to position the door in place while I mounted the hinges and latch. Take your time on this step to get everything level and square to end up with a smooth operating door.

Step 6: The Roof.

I didn’t want to have to worry about supporting the roof with vertical posts. I needed a structure that was strong enough to support fencing overhead, yet light enough to be able to assemble it on the ground and lift it into place. I used 1" x 2" strips of lumber to make panels that could be assembled into an "A" frame so that the base of the structure would span from one side wall to the other with the peak rising about 2 feet. I used angle braces to help keep everything square. With the A frames assembled I I stapled the fencing in place and lifted the assemblies on top of the enclosure, attaching them to the top with wood screws.

Step 7: Fencing

There are a number of fencing options you can use. I chose to cover the entire enclosure with Deer fencing. I recommend Deer Fencing over Deer "Netting". Netting is cheaper, but Fencing is a heavier gauge. The openings are 0.75" which allows most bees and pollinators to get in and out easily. I cut a few strategic holes slightly large to allow bigger pollinators to get in. I reinforced the bottom two feet with 2 inch chicken wire to add extra protection against rodents with sharp teeth.

Step 8: Results:

We had a whole lot of fun building the enclosure and growing our first completely organic garden last year. The vegetables were great and we learned a whole lot as we went. I'm gearing up now to expand the enclosure for an even bigger and better growing season.

Feel free to build on this and make improvements on the design. If you like this instructable, please consider voting for it!

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    15 Comments

    0
    g3holliday
    g3holliday

    1 year ago

    Super Cool!

    0
    AlDee
    AlDee

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you!

    0
    g3holliday
    g3holliday

    Reply 1 year ago

    You're welcome!

    0
    gmartonic
    gmartonic

    1 year ago on Step 8

    nice.....but rodents here in southern california would just laugh at this.....

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    Reply 1 year ago

    Rodents in Canada can dig.

    0
    AlDee
    AlDee

    Reply 1 year ago

    Well they can dig here as well, though I don't think they'd make it very far with my garden. My boards are set into the ground a bit, and the soil gets extremely rocky below that. On the inside, I purposely added more rocky soil at the edges, followed by mesh that extends about 12" inward from the edge, all covered with about 6" of top soil. That's an awful lot to get through. So far, no animals have tried. If digging became a problem, I would just adapt and make the barrier stronger.

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    Reply 1 year ago

    I really like your enclosure. If I had the room, I would adjust your instructions to build an outdoor aviary for our parrot. If the rodents do start to find a way in, it might be easier to just plant a little something that they like outside of the enclosure to draw their attention away from what you are protecting. :) There are also plants that rodents don't like to get near. Mint, Tansy and Marigold come to mind. I hope you get many seasons of use from it.

    0
    AlDee
    AlDee

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! Wow, an outdoor aviary, what a cool adaptation that would be!
    Yes, I had planted some Marigolds around the perimeter last year. I will plant more this year and add some mint as well. Thanks for the tip!

    0
    AlDee
    AlDee

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! Not sure what type of rodents you have in southern California, but it's working well here on the east coast. :-)

    0
    pcfischerii
    pcfischerii

    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing your experience with home gardening. It is always interesting to how how gardeners in different locations have to adapt to different conditions. I am guessing you’ll be adding additional space to the south to take advantage of more sun exposure. Also I imagine you experienced an increase in pollinators which small diverse gardens promote, and as you said, the produce is great, much better than supermarket varieties that are are developed for shelf life.

    0
    AlDee
    AlDee

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! Correct on all counts! The garden got crowded quickly last year, so I decided to extend the structure 8 feet southward. When I'm done, I'll write a new instructable with the details. Yes, we absolutely experienced an increase in pollinators. Supermarket produce can't compare. Nothing beats a fresh home grown tomato that's been ripened on the vine!

    extension.jpg
    0
    DeclerckLouis
    DeclerckLouis

    1 year ago

    It looks amazing! I love that you used easy-to-come-by resources!
    Personally I'd leave a little more space between the fence and the greenery so that my chickens can't get to it :p

    0
    AlDee
    AlDee

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! Yes, I tried to keep it simple but functional.

    0
    AlDee
    AlDee

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you!