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Build A Deer Proof Raised Garden Bed - Build Plans & Tips

A few years ago my husband and I moved from Boston to Columbus. We bought a house that I only saw on the internet and our first morning in the house was magical. I woke up four months pregnant on a futon in the middle of our living room with just a throw blanket over me. I opened my eyes and saw a family of deer chomping on my neighbors beautiful hostas just a few feet outside of our windows.

deer

Deer are such interesting animals. They are so big to live in such a suburban area. Despite the fact that they always eat my hostas and landscaping I love them. My daughter nearly chokes on her food when we see them outside of our kitchen window. She gets so excited and is absolutely in awe by such a big animal in her backyard.

We love the deer. They can eat our hostas, but if we are going to spend the time and energy to grow a vegetable garden they cannot chomp on our tomatoes.

I searched forever for a garden enclosure. There are a lot of kits online, like this one from Earth Easy. These kits are great if you like exactly what they offer and don’t want to make any adjustments to the build plans. They are also a bit pricey, so if cost is a factor for you, you may want to build your own too.

I spent three days trying to come up with build plans. I wasn’t 100% confident with my plans, and then I found this tutorial online from Home Depot that walks you through how to make the enclosed garden. The plan was almost exactly what I was trying to design on my own, so we went with this one!

I compiled a file with more detailed cut lists and written directions to help you if you want to build the same enclosed garden. It pairs well with the video! It is available to all my email subscribers in my freebies library. Simply sign up for my emails below to gain access!

Wood & Chemicals to Avoid

wood pile

We ordered all of the lumber online. Just a heads up, the purchase list in the video is incorrect. You need way more than three 2”x4”s! You may have to do some calculations if your wood is a different size than the ones listed. For example, we could only get 2x4s in 8ft length, so we had to look at the cut list and modify.

We purchased cedar for all of our lumber. Cedar is naturally resistant to rot and insects. Wood at the moment is super expensive and cedar is one of the more expensive woods. You can use another kind of wood BUT DO NOT USE PRESSURE TREATED WOOD. It is not recommended to grow food in raised beds with pressure treated wood. There are chemicals in it.

We also did not use glue when assembling. We only used screws. Since this is a raised garden bed that sits outside we wanted the flexibility to replace parts if they deteriorate and we ended up taking it apart after partially installing it to get a fence permit. It is still super sturdy without the glue!

We did not finish the wood in any way. If you do want to finish the wood you have to be careful and research the products you want to use. Stains, polys, and paint aren’t usually food safe and should not touch the dirt and plants. You could maybe finish the top half, just do your research.

Build

frame

The build took about a day. I suggest using a level and really making sure that the garden looks square when it is placed in your yard. Our ground wasn’t level so we dug out a little trench for the garden to sit in. This also helped keep it sturdy since it doesn’t sit in the ground.

We didn’t feel like it needed the cross bracing. It feels really sturdy as it is and we liked the clean parallel lines.

wire

We didn’t like the look of traditional chicken wire. If you want a more polished look you can use garden wire fencing. It’s a little more expensive, but I think it is worth it!

I also suggest waiting to make the cuts for the door until the end. A few measurements that are just a little off can really add up!

Dirt & Mulch

dirt and mulch

We ordered dirt and mulch from Kurtz Brothers Central Ohio. They were great to work with. We ordered a lot each because we used the extra dirt to fill in mulchy patches in our yard and we needed to mulch all of our garden beds.

Filling your garden can be expensive if you are purchasing bags of dirt. To start, you should pick up all of the dirt in the beds and turn it upside down, so the grass roots are facing up. This ensures that the grass doesn’t grow into your raised beds. You can fill it with compost and dirt that you may have already.

You can also do lasagna gardening if you are building your garden in the fall and won’t plant until winter.

One big thing to be careful about is to stay away from fertilizer that has manure in it. It can carry food borne illnesses like E. coli.

Total Cost

All of the wood, screws, gardening wire, and door hardware cost us about $720, not including the delivery fee. The cubic yard of dirt and bit of mulch that we used was about $50, not including delivery.

Delivery costs run about $80 for where I live. If you wanted to cut back on costs you could rent a truck for a day to get all of your materials. With COVID, having a little one, and ordering more mulch and dirt for other parts of our yard this just wasn’t going to happen for us.

Square Foot Gardening

square foot gardening

This was such a fun project and I am so excited for our garden. As far as gardens go though, it is a pretty small garden. In order to maximize our yield we are doing square foot gardening.

Square foot gardening is a method where you divide your garden into square feet and plant the maximum number of plants in each square foot. For example, you can fit one tomato plant in a square foot and 9-16 carrots per square foot. We are doing tall growing plants (tomatoes, peppers, beans) around the outside and shorter plants (carrots, beets, lettuce) around the inside.

When doing square foot gardening you also have to be careful about what plants you plant next to one another. Beets love kale. Onions don’t like beans. There are just a few things to keep in mind. This companion gardening article helped me a lot!

Flowers

cornerFlowers

Humans aren’t the only ones who like to snack on delicious home grown vegetables. Animals and little insects also love them too! The fence around the outside will help deter bigger animals, but we wanted some extra protection as well.

We planted marigolds around the outside of our garden. They are our sacrificial plant. Slugs, ladybugs, and other insects like marigolds and will go to the marigolds instead of your vegetables. Marigolds also secret a substance that helps keep your plants safe from root nematodes.

lavender

We also planted four lavender plants around the outside. Lavender is thought of as a protecting plant because the strong smell deters deer and rabbits. (If a deer is hungry enough it will eat nearly anything though.)

These flowers also attract pollinators, which is great for helping your garden grow!

End of Summer Update

gardenAtTheEndOfSummer

A little update! We absolutely loved our first summer with our garden and we learned a lot. For example, one squash plant can take over an entire side of the garden and that our enclosure won’t keep our squirrels that love pole bean seeds immediately after they are planted. We were thrilled with all that we could grow in such a small space and look forward to our next gardening season!

Share

If you have any more gardening tips, favorite vegetables to grow, or any questions please let me know! You can comment below, or reach out to me on Instagram. I will post updates about my garden in my stories!


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