Despite a nice fence, we have a lot of deer, rabbits and other animals that wander through our yard grazing on all vegetation - including any attempt I make at a vegetable garden. I thought about putting up 6-8 foot fences to keep the animals out. Setting aside the eyesore this would create, I thought this would be more time and money than I was willing to take on. Instead I decided to construct a closed-in structure that allowed in rain and sun, but not animals. I also wanted to make sure this small garden would be easy to weed and maintain.
Overall, I was able to complete this project in a weekend and I am very satisfied with the results.
Motivation for the design came from community garden just down the road. They used an old plexiglass door to make a small greenhouse of similar shape. Instead of a plexiglass door, I purchased a screen door from a the local Habitat Re-sale store for about $20. The following is a list of materials you would need to build your own:
1 - 6' Reused screen door (preferably with the hinge still attached).
2 - 10' 6x6" wood posts**
2 - 7' 2x4" wood studs
3 - 7' 2x6" wood panels**. I had leftover wood from a previous garden box that failed to keep out anything.
1 - 4x8' decorative lattice panel for the back.
1 - box of carpentry screws (I used 2" drywall screws, but I would recommend the better stainless steel kind).
1 - Roll of chicken wire
** NOTE: In earlier versions of this instructable I recommended treated wood (to avoid rot) even though my garden fortress was built with untreated wood. However, a user comment (see below) from defwheezer suggested that treated wood may be a problem in contaminating the soil. I think defweezer presented a resonable argument against treated wood and it is better to air on the side of caution and use untreated wood.
Step 1: Tools Needed
Tools you need include the following:
- Post hole digger
- Drill bit set
- Measuring Tape
- Tin snips (for cutting chicken wire)
- Staples and staple gun.
Step 2: Cut, Dig and Set Posts
The measurements used in this project are intended more as a guideline. More important is to keep the pairs of posts (front and back) at the same height and level.
- I cut the 2 10' posts at 66 inches. The shorter sections (54") are set aside for the front posts and the longer ones (66") for the back posts.
- With the help of my kids, I dug one of the back post holes first. Once I had one post in the hole at the desired height (38" sticking out of the ground), I filled in the dirt while using my level to ensure the post was straight upright.
- I carefully dug the second hole so that the post would be the same height as the first. I used one of the 2x4"s placed across the poles to make sure everything was level and straight. It took adding a little dirt back in the hole but finally I was able to fill in around the post and everything was level vertically as well as horizontally.
- I used the same procedure in steps 2 and 3 to place the front posts. The outside distance between the front posts ended up to be 40 inches and the height of the front posts ended up being 26 inches sticking out of the ground. These heights allows the screen door to be at a nice angle facing the south (sun).
Step 3: Build Frame and Add Door.
Next, I centered and drilled the 2x4s to the top of the posts and cut a frame around the base of the garden using the 2x6 plank. Since the garden is on a hill, I mostly just cut the frame to fit and look nice. I did make sure that the plank on the back was square with the rest of the frame so it would be easier to fit the lattice later on.
I then attached the door to the top 2x4" so that it would lay flat on the front 2x4" and open nicely.
I finished this step by filling in the base of the garden with some extra soil I had from a different part of the yard. Make sure that you use appropriate soil for the your garden.
Step 4: Enclose the Frame.
The final step is to enclose the frame to keep out the pests.
- First, I cut the decorative lattice to fit the back opening of the structure. Instead of attaching this directly to the frame, I just placed screws in key locations to allow me to hang the lattice. This makes it really easy to take it off and on in order to weed and harvest the garden.
- Second, I cut out the chicken wire to cover the remaining structure not covered by the door and the lattice. I attached the chicken wire using the staple gun. If you have never worked with chicken wire it can be a little tricky. It is fairly easy to cut, but it tends to poke. Bend and shape the chicken wire into the form you need and you can wrap it around itself to make the shape hold.
Step 5: Plant, Grow and Eat
I am pleased with how my garden fortress has turned out. I was hoping to include pictures of the deer near my garden but so far they have been uncooperative. Access to the garden is really easy given the door on the top and the removeable lattice on the back.
This has been my first instructable. Please post a comment, I would love to hear if you found this useful. Feel free to see my blog for other projects I work on: