This is a tutorial on how to build a protective cover for your raised garden bed to prevent animals from attacking your vegetable crop. This DIY raised bed enclosure with fencing is an easy beginner friendly project that you can tackle over a weekend, as it doesn’t require fancy tools or skills.
Why build a garden bed cover?
When I first started gardening, I didn’t know the importance of a protective cover for my garden bed. Soon enough, I noticed a lot of my seedlings and vegetables were chewed up down to the ground. It took me a while to figure out it was the squirrels who ate up our vegetable crop.
It’s definitely very discouraging to see that happen so I tried numerous ways to repel the squirrels, such as spraying chili water over my plants, or adding an owl statue, but none of them worked. One day I decided to design and build a protective cover that will cage in my vegetable garden from those small animals. Actually I am so glad I did! My vegetables are thriving, no more loss of leaves or even entire plant! I can grow whatever vegetables and fruits I like without worrying if squirrels like them as well. This DIY garden bed cover will work for other animals as well, such as raccoons, deer, and others.
For the first month after I built those garden bed covers, the squirrels got a bit frustrated that there’s no more yummy food for them, so they started to eat some of my tangerines from the tree (I was surprised to see those half peeled and eaten tangerines in my yard), and one of my tender delphinium plants. But after a month, they seemed to get used to the fact there’s no food in my backyard, that they just leave my backyard alone nowadays.
Finished dimensions of DIY garden bed cover
I have 2 standard 3′ by 6′ raised garden beds which I got from a local hardware store. The finished DIY raised garden bed cover is around 6 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and slightly less than 3 feet deep.
There’s two reasons for reduced depth: 1.I have 1/2″ irrigation tubing sitting on top of the back edge of the raised bed; 2. the fence between our yard and our neighbor’s is quite old so the top portion is slightly leaning to our side. By reducing the depth I’m able to address those two factors.
In terms of height, I need the garden bed cover to be fairly tall to account for large plants and vines, such as artichokes, peas, and cucumbers. I landed on 4 feet as the height.
Each garden bed protective cover has double hinged doors with latches. Each latch is attached to the top of the frame.
DIY process video
If you are a visual learner, I made a 5-minute video on our process of building this DIY garden bed cover:
For detailed instructions and all the materials I used, continue reading.
Tools and materials
The material listed below are for one 3′ by 6′ garden bed cover:
Chicken wire. I use 3′ wide chicken wire because it matches well with my 3′ by 6′ raised bed. I used 30′ per garden bed cover.
Brass hinges x 4
DIY raised garden bed cover instructions
Here’s the diagram I created in SketchUp. This shows how the pieces attach together.
For my 3′ by 6′ garden bed, I cut 2 by 2 boards to the following size. Note that I leave 1″ out from the depth because I have irrigation tubing sitting on the back edge of the raised bed. You might need to adjust the number based on your situation. Each cover should be customized for your garden bed, I highly encourage you to draw a diagram on paper or SketchUp, to determine the size you’d like to cut.
Frame: (4) * 73″; (4) * 32″; (4)*48″
2 doors: (4) * 31.5″; (4) * 47.25″
1. Cut 2 x 2 x 8 boards to size.
You’ll need to cut them into two pieces, one for building the frame structure, the other for diagonal braces to support the structure.
All frame structure pieces are straight cut. All braces are 45 degree diagonal cut.
One trick to quickly produce the braces is to align the edge up somewhere with your miter saw (you can use tape to mark it), and flip it back and forth between cutting. This way you will be able to produce a lot of those pieces in a short amount of time, also they will be exactly the same size without pre-measuring.
To prepare the diagonal braces, I used 1/2″ spade bit to create a dent on each side, about 1″ from the edge
2. Build the main frame structure.
Now it is time to assemble. Drill a pilot hole and then screw in the exterior wood screw. Pilot holes are important for this project as without them the wood will tend to split while screwing.
Since we don’t have a pocket hole tool, we used two screws per corner where 3 2×2 boards attached to each other. We drilled each hole around 1/3 of the way instead of the exact center, that will give the second screw some space to pass through.
Attach a diagonal brace to straighten and strengthen the corner. You’ll need to attach braces for most of the straight corners except:
1. the front side. You want to leave it open so you can add doors.
2. the bottom side. This is to maximize the planting area of you garden bed without blocking the soil. Also it is just sitting on top of the raised bed, not really holding any weight by itself.
We started by building the back side first, reinforced it with braces on four corners, then to the front side. Note that you’ll want to skip reinforcement to leave space for doors. You can reference my video to see how exactly we were assembling the frame.
It’s recommended to dry fit your frame on top of your garden bed to make sure it fits well.
After competing the assembly, you should have the basic frame structure and a pair of doors. For each door, we have all four corner reinforced with the braces.Now you are ready to attach chicken wire, also called poultry netting.
3. Attach chicken wire.
To handle chicken wire, wear gloves to protect your hands. Because my raised bed is 3′ deep, I’m able to lay 3′ wide chicken wire along three sides of the frame continuously without cutting it – from one side to top, then to the other side.
To attach chicken wire, we used stainless steel staples to make it weather resistant. We used a manual stapler because it is cheaper, but you can use electric stapler as it will make your life a lot easier.
Most of the time the staples won’t go all the way in the wood (at least for our manual one), so we used a hammer to hammer them in more for security.
For corners with braces, cut the chicken wire with wire cutter, then staple them with exterior grade staples.
For the back side (opposite of double doors), we used two panels of 3′ wide chicken wire, attaching them vertically, then used the extra wire which came with the rolls to weave these two panels.
Trim excess chicken wire panels. Although both chicken wire and my raised bed is 3′ wide, there will be some extra chicken wire panel hanging out. I cut them and bent them with a plier to remove the sharp edge. I went into detail in the video on how I dealt with sharp edge after cutting it.
Attaching chicken wire/poultry netting to all four sides of the frame, leaving front side and bottom side free of chicken wire.
4. Install hinges and barrel bolts
To ensure doors open widely, I unfold the hinge in the extreme case, and marked the holes on the frame. Then drill and attach the hinge to the frame. I used 4 hinges per garden bed cover (2 for each door). After
After that, attach doors to the frame, and test it to make sure it opens and closes smoothly. It is recommended to attach the doors when you place the frame on the final location, since your garden bed may not be completely leveled.
After that I attached the brass barrel bolts, one per door. I placed the longer part of the barrel bolts on the door because there’s more vertical space on the door to attach screws. If that’s the case with you, make sure you get the barrel bolts that can lock in position when installed that way.
5. Attach cover to your raised garden bed
To attach it, I placed it on top my raised bed. Originally I was planning to add a couple screws to attach the bottom frame to the raised bed, but I skipped it because the cover’s weight seems to be enough to hold it in place just fine.
Test and enjoy your DIY garden bed cover
That’s all the steps and you made it! Test our your doors and hardware, making sure everything functions well. If there’s any glitches, don’t be afraid to tweak it until things open and lock smoothly. I did some tweaking on the door hinges and barrel bolts until the door open and close well.
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