How To: Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden

How To: Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden

JoAnn Moser is a longtime friend and contributor to Curbly, and this month, she's excited to be releasing her second book, Garden Builder. Perfect for any gardener or outdoor enthusiast with a few basic DIY skills, it is packed with 31 complete project plans, each one featuring finished photos of the project along with cut lists and shopping lists, a construction diagram, and step-by-step instructions (complete with photos) show exactly how to build every project.  

Today, we're pumped to be sharing a project from that book: a raised bed garden that keeps out all the squirrels, deer, rabbits, and other backyard critters that like to take your growing produce off the plant, take one bite, then just leave it there to mock you. Let's build it!           


This modular critter-proof garden is all about customization. You can make two smaller boxes for two smaller, 12-inch-high, raised beds, or stack them to make one 24-inch-high bed. Or increase the size of the boxes to give you similar options. Or, mix and match two or more larger boxes with two or more smaller boxes, if you have the space.

If you have garden pests such as rabbits and deer, add the optional screens and doors to make the garden virtually impervious to them. It really is all up to you, your needs, and the contours of your yard.

Note that the following instructions are for the configuration we’re featuring here, which includes one larger planter, two smaller planters, six screens, and two doors.

This garden could be built with any weather-resistant lumber, though we recommend against pressure-treated lumber due to the chemicals it contains. These chemicals aren't a good idea for any structure that will grow edibles. We chose cedar for our garden.

Step

To make the three-tiered boxes shown in the example, measure, mark, and cut the 2 × 12 boards into the following quantities and lengths:

 

  • (2) 2 × 12 × 72″ (sides of long planter)

  • (8) 2×12×36″ (the ends of long planter and 3 sides of smaller planters)

  • (3) 2 × 12 × 33″ (center brace of long planter and 1 side of smaller planters)

  • (8) 2×2×1″ (cleats)

Step

If making the optional pest-proof fence, mark and cut the 2 × 2 boards into the following quantities and lengths:

 

  • (13) 2×2×36″ (top and bo om of panels and upper roof bracket/brace)

  • (12) 2×2×60″ (sides of panel)

  • (4) 2×2×59 1/2″ (sides of doors)

  • (6) 2 × 2 × 33″ (center brace of panels)

  • (2) 2×2×35 1/2″ (top and bottom of door A)

  • (2) 2×2×34″ (top and bottom of door B)

  • (1) 2×2×32 1/2″ (center of door A)

  • (1) 2×2×31″ (center of door B)

  • (1) 2 × 2 × 71″ (upper roof bracket/brace, includes extra 1/2″ for adjustment)

  • (1) 2 × 2 × 38″ (upper roof bracket/brace, includes extra 1/2″ for adjustment)

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 3

Starting with the large bottom box, a ach the two 36-inch lengths flush to the ends of the 72- inch boards by drilling countersunk pilot holes and driving 3″ screws.

TIP: Using 2 × 2” × 8’ boards, cut off the 36”-long pieces rst and use the leftovers for the uprights, which will measure 5 feet, less the saw blade width.

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 4

Attach one of the 33-inch lengths at the inside center of the rectangle you just made, using countersunk 3″ screws.

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 5

Begin building the smaller planters by assembling three 36-inch-long boards into a U shape, so that the inside opening in 33 inches. Secure the joints with countersunk 3″ screws.

Step

Complete the small planter box by slipping a 33-inch board inside the open end of the U, flush with the ends, and secure it in place with 3″ countersunk screws. Repeat steps 5 and 6 to make the two small planters

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 6

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 7

If the planter will be in contact with the ground, cut poultry fence to size and staple it onto the bottom of each to keep out burrowing animals. (This won’t be necessary for any planter stacked onto a lower planter.

Step

With the boxes in their permanent home, flip them over (screen side down) and position one of the smaller boxes next to the larger box so the 33-inch cut board is next to and flush with one of the ends of the larger box, creating an L shape.

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 8

 

TIP: While assembling the planters, use a speed square to keep the shorter length boards perpendicular to the longer boards.

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 8

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 9

Screw the smaller box to the larger box with 3″ screws angled slightly so they don’t protrude through the other side.

Step

Attach the remaining small box over the larger box, using four of the 2 × 2 cleats mounted on the inside corners. Screw one cleat into each corner of the smaller box, using 3″ screws angled slightly so they don’t protrude from the other side.

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 10

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 11

Stabilize the remaining two corners of the larger planter and two corners of the adjacent, smaller planter by installing four 2 × 2 cleats on the inside corners, again using 3″ screws angled slightly so they don’t protrude through the other side.

Step

If you are building the optional fence panels, build the frames by attaching two 36-inch lengths of 2 × 2 to two 60- inch lengths, using 3″ screws. Repeat to make six frames.

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 12

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 13

Attach a crossmember across the center of each frame, using 3″ screws.

Step

The doors of the garden are made exactly like the panels, except the dimensions of the board material are different. To make door A, use 3″ screws to attach two 35 1/2-inch lengths of 2 × 2 flush to the ends of two 59 1/2-inch lengths. Then attach the 32 1/2-inch length at the center of the frame just made.

Step

To make door B, use 3″ screws to attach two 34-inch lengths of 2 × 2 ush to the ends of two 59 1/2-inch lengths, then attach the 31-inch length at the center of the frame just made.

Step

To install poultry fence to the panels, unroll the fence on top of the panel itself. Then staple the fence onto one side of each panel. Cut the fence 1 1/2-inch longer on one end. This end will become the bottom of the panel.

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 16

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 17

Fold the excess 1 1/2-inch of fence down and over the bottom 2 × 2 (Folding the raw fencing over at the bottom of the panel like this will further reinforce it and cover the sharp wire ends after the panel is installed.)

NOTE: The garden’s design was constructed in such a way that the panels measure 36-inches-wide, the same width as the poultry fence. That means each vertical side of the fencing has a finished edge that is smooth and doesn't require cutting.

Step

Install poultry fencing to the doors as you did the panels, but this time cut the fencing to length as the fence will NOT be folded under the bottom of the doors.

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 19

To install each panel on the raised bed, position it on the beds with the fencing side facing inward. Using 3″ screws, screw the bo om of the panels to the top of the boxes below—except for the two inside corners of the structure, as this is where the doors will be installed.

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 20

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 20

Clamp adjacent panels to each other and screw them together with 3″ screws driven at an upward angle to prevent moisture from accumulating in the hole.

Step

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 21To assemble the upper braces, begin by installing the 71-inch board opposite the door opening, using 3″ screws to attach it to the screen frames. Then connect the 36- and 38-inch boards to the 71- inch board and to the side panels. Make the side panel connections last with a temporary screw, to allow for adjustments when installing the doors.

Step

Use shims to center and stabilize the doors in the door openings. Install the hinges on the doors per the hinge’s mounting instructions, and then install the doors via their hinges to the adjacent side panels. If you need to square up the doors, unfasten the top braces and adjust the adjacent side panels as needed before reattaching. If excess 2 × 2 protrudes beyond the side panels after adjustment, trim them off.

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 22

Step

Install the hasp as directed by the manufacturer, and add a carabiner to secure the doors shut.

Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden | Step 23


How To: Make a Modular Critter-Proof Vegetable Garden

 

JoAnn's book Garden Builder released today! Grab a copy for yourself on Amazon.

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