Are Raised Bed Garden Kits Ideal?

neff_terence
neff_terence Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

Hello Everyone,

I used to own a 2000 sq ft garden in years past. But now that I've moved into a new neighborhood, I'm looking for grow options. I am preparing to purchase a "deer proof" cedar raised bed garden kit. I'm not handy when it comes to carpentry, so it looks like this is my best option? But the kits are expensive! Are there any experts here that would be willing to take a look at the following kit and tell me if this would be a good starting point? Do you see any problems with the design? I would personally like it if the beds were a little deeper than 20" Perhaps I should try to hire a carpenter (if I can find one available) for a custom build?

I greatly appreciate any insights or suggestions,

Terence

Best Answers

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin
    Answer ✓

    Welcome to the forum @neff_terence.

    At prices per board foot of cedar you could easily make this, at the most, for $500 for the cedar (and that was calculated on a deeper bed of 24"). Not sure on the prices for the nails to put it together or hardware for the gate or the mesh fencing for above the beds. But I can’t see that all costing more than about $200.

    A good carpenter or handy man should be able to put this together in a day. Not sure what that would cost in your area, but figure in the cost of labour and you will have your total. Just going on a guesstimate of $40 per hour, that still brings in the cost at around $1000.

    So this is a horrendous price for the kit even at the sale price.

    And of course, you have to add in the cost of the soil but that doesn’t come with the kit, either, so an additional cost for kit or DIY. 

    It does look like it would keep the deer out, except for as mentioned; they might be able to stick their noses through the mesh. Doing it yourself, you could modify it for a smaller scale mesh. And they will prune anything that is growing through the mesh.

    One other benefit that I can see for this design is that you would be able to put plastic around and over it to extend your season. Although, you might want to put a ridge pole on it to make a bit of a peak for the roof.

    Let us know what you decide and how it goes.

  • captaincollins
    captaincollins Posts: 3 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2022 Answer ✓

    Terrance, thank you for your kind comments. I am attaching a picture of our garden surround with the netting. What we did was put in three large fence posts 7 feet high. The other fence posts are cut to 6 feet My husband put eye hooks in each one and then threaded a clothes dryer line cord through the hooks. Then, he and my son draped the netting over the rope and both sides of the fence. It is working out very well. A person over 6’ can easily stand in it. The only thing we have to do is lift up that little piece of netting over the gate before we go in.

    Next, I included a picture of how we surrounded the galvanized beds. We put large green steaks in the ground and put the netting over those. Then we cut an upside down L shape and got a large zipper from Amazon and sewed it into the netting. You can see that there are weeds all around, but no weeds inside ;) and no animals have gotten inside.

    We also have clay soil here. I find the drainage with the Hugelkultur to be just fine. We ordered what’s called landscaper’s mix soil from a local merchant. Friends had used them and really liked them. What they do is combine topsoil with mushroom compost. The plants love it! It is also organic.

    I am excited for your adventure!


Answers

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin

    @neff_terence Welcome here! Please leave a short introduction in our Introductions section so we can have an idea where you are from.

    I agree. Any kits are expensive!

    Plants won't need the soil area deeper, but it might be more convenient for you.

    It is an attractive kit. I can't see deer getting into it. The deer can jump that height, but there is no place for them to land inside, so I'd think in that way, the "deer proof" should work. I do wonder if they could still nibble through the holes in the wire with their snouts. If you were going to do any vertical gardening, making use of the sides at all, I'm not sure how safe that would be from them either.

    If you were going to hire someone, this does give a good idea what you would like. I would only show them a picture, not send them to the site, to get the most honest real life pricing for the build (not going off the price shown on the site) & I'd certainly ask for a quote if I did that and get it on paper.

    It will be interesting to see what others might have to say.

  • neff_terence
    neff_terence Posts: 7 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2022

    Hey @LaurieLovesLearning, thanks for taking the time to respond! Wow, I have received such amazing feedback. I feel honored for the responses that I've received! Laurie, I don't think the "introduction" option is available unless I become a member (which I will become shortly, for more in depth gardening questions). In any case, I am located in central Ohio.

    Thanks for the awesome advice @torey! This is extremely helpful when trying to navigate this grow operation. I am now in touch with a carpenter that has a great heart. So I don't think that he will play a lot of games. He is under the impression that, given the fact that the cedar kit is pre-cut and includes shipping, that the price might be somewhat realistic. For example, according to his lumber supplier that stocks 2" cedar (as opposed to 5/4" in the kit), the price is $3900 just for the lumber. This doesn't include the hardware or labor to cut the wood to length. In any case, I agree with you, I should go with a smaller mesh and I would also like at least 24" raised bed height if possible.

    "One other benefit that I can see for this design is that you would be able to put plastic around and over it to extend your season. Although, you might want to put a ridge pole on it to make a bit of a peak for the roof." This is an awesome suggestion, great idea!!!

    I currently have an agreement with the deer, so they leave my plants alone. That said, I only have a small potted garden outside right now. The deer often train their young in my area of the neighborhood, due to the safety of the inhabitants (that's me). That said, I doubt that their young will leave a sizable garden untouched. My house backs up to a forested area, so it's a hub for wild animals.  

    Thanks a million for your feedback!!! Due to my current situation, I spend most of my time talking to plants and animals, not expert gardeners : ) I am excited to learn from everyone and I am extremely impressed with the GrowNetwork thus far!

    Love,

    Terence

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @neff_terence Your price for cedar lumber must be a great deal higher than here. I was calculating using 1x6 boards so that would make a difference (doubling the cost with 2" thick boards).

    If you are backed on to a forested area, you might have other critters into your produce so a smaller mesh would help with those, too.

    But at any rate, I hope you are able to get a garden up and growing soon. Its not too late to put in some fall greens at the very least.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    One of our neighbors put in a bed that was similar. The boards he got were 2" x 12" redwood. Granted it was 3 or 4 years ago, but even if you were to add in inflation, it was nowhere near as expensive as the kit. I think he also built his beds 2 feet tall.

  • neff_terence
    neff_terence Posts: 7 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2022

    @torey,

    I agree with you regarding the smaller mesh. I am also planning to staple a 1/2" mesh along the bottoms of each of the raised bed boxes. I don't want the moles having a carrot party at my expense! Ha, Ha!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin

    @neff_terence You are welcome.

    If you wish to tag (notify) someone in a post so that they get a notification be sure to put the @ symbol before their screen name. A drop down box will show and should show you their name. Click on the correct name (or reply by quoting them instead) and they will know you answered.

    Right now we found that there is a little glitch in the tagging system, but it is getting looked at. I imagine it will get resolved soon.

    The mesh bottom is a good idea. You might also want to look into putting logs & branches, leaves & such in the bottom portion too, like they do in hugelkultur beds. We talk about that on the forum in multiple places. It will save a lot on soil costs.

    By the way, if you can post here, you can already post in the Introductions.

    https://community.thegrownetwork.com/categories/introductions

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭

    @neff_terence I’d lay a metal mesh as a flooring (and then cover it) to keep rabbits and foxes out since they are diggers and tunnelers

  • neff_terence
    neff_terence Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning

    Thanks for mentioning Hugelkultur Beds, I'm going to look into this shortly. I appreciate your suggestion!😉


    @SuperC

    Thanks for providing your feedback. I am planning to staple 1/2" galvanized wire mesh to the bottom of each of the raised bed boxes, to prevent critters from burrowing into the garden.

    If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that I take this further and place wire mesh underneath the entire raised bed build site (not just the raised bed boxes). Is that right? Do you think that 1 sheet of wire mesh is strong enough to do the trick? What are your thoughts?

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,279 ✭✭✭✭

    I am very allergic to cedar. I have made mine out of pine boards for years. I do understand why you might use cedar though.

    @SuperC I just used some chicken wire my neighbor gave me and made a tent over my pea bed. It took over 3 weeks for it to come up. I am trying to discourage cats.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭

    Yes, under the entire structure. However, if you’re already putting wire mesh underneath each bed case, then for an added protection, yes, i would put a wire mesh sheet under the area of foot traffic as well. If a mulch or something is used on top of the wire mesh for walking on then one sheet may be sufficient. @neff_terence

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭✭

    @SuperC Great idea----tired of getting nibbles from those that do no work!

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    You could also have a mesh added to the top to help keep birds out. Depending on what your growing they could become a pest.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    20 inches is plenty deep for almost anything you would be likely to grow, with a few exceptions like celery.

    I agree with those who wrote that kits are overpriced. This is not a terribly difficult project to build even if you have little wood-working experience, and you have to start somewhere! :-) Look around for plans and build it from scratch.

    It's best to build beds cheap and simple. Don't fuss too much over the type of wood used, but use whatever is readily available. Expect it to last a few years and then rot out. Experiment with different ways to build them.

    Also, raised beds work very well in wet climates where you need a lot of drainage. They are not a good fit for drier, desert-like climates, because they will dry out much faster than the surrounding soil.

  • captaincollins
    captaincollins Posts: 3 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2022

    First, I don’t see anything wrong with the style of that kit. Everything looks reachable. The height will be fine for the plants, but may hurt your back, but you can just get one of those pads and keep your knees bent while you are working.I think you may want to put a pole in the center and drape a piece of netting over it to keep out critters like mice or raccoons. As for price, I was in shock how much wood costs at the lumberyard or at the typical big box home store. we watched a YouTube video on how to make a raised bed for under $100. It’s made with aluminum panels and pressure-treated wood. It is about 4’ x 8’ x2’. It ended up costing $265 for each one in just materials, plus my husband‘s labor time, which was about two hours for the first one and then an hour and 15 minutes for the subsequent ones. We then added long stakes around it and draped netting over it and put it in a huge zipper so we could get in and out of it. So we have five nice sized beds but it cost us well over $1,000. The soil was expensive as well, but we saved money by doing Hugelkultur. We filled the beds up about half way with twigs, leaves, and assorted ephemera that we have around our property. Now, we will have these beds for a good long time. So year one, our potatoes were about $20 a piece. Lol.

    For the side garden we didn’t want to spend the money on the big beds, so we ended up purchasing kits from Costco. They are made by Vita and are made with a white material. They are warranteed for a very long time, and do not yellow, crack, or get into your food. Around that we had a fence guy put up fence posts staple chicken wire to it, put in a gate, and then draped netting over it. This keeps out most everything. That wasn’t cheap But since everybody sees it, it had to look good. If you are in an HOA, check with them before you put anything in. We are not in an HOA

    ,but I wanted something cuter looking in front. We plan to add 2 more big beds that my husband will make to the one with the gate.

  • neff_terence
    neff_terence Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    @captaincollins

    Thank you so much for your time and detailed response! I really enjoyed reading your reply and viewing your pictures!

    You Mentioned:

    "The height will be fine for the plants, but may hurt your back, but you can just get one of those pads and keep your knees bent while you are working"

    I spoke to my carpenter and he said that he will add and extra board to the raised beds, increasing the height to 30." This way, I should be able to use a chair to do plant maintenance.

    I think you may want to put a pole in the center and drape a piece of netting over it to keep out critters like mice or raccoons.

    I agree with you 100%. Over the past few weeks, I've been thinking to myself, "I wonder if the raccoons will try to scale the walls of my enclosure?" There is a lot of raccoon activity in my area, so this is definitely a legitimate concern. That said, between the comments from you and Torey, I think that a central pole makes a lot of sense. Perhaps I can find a way to adhere some sort of flat piece to the top of the support pole, to increase the surface area of the support? 

    The soil was expensive as well, but we saved money by doing Hugelkultur.

    I am curious, how did you select the supplier for your soil? Did you do research ahead of time or did you choose a supplier based on proximity and convenience? I'm planning to use the Hugelkultur method also, like you did in your beds. Are you happy with the drainage in your beds? I have clay soil in my area, so I don't know if adding gravel under the build site makes sense as well? The manufacturer of the Eartheasy Kit mentioned the option of putting rocks in the bottom of the raised beds, to deter critters and increase drainage.

    As mentioned earlier in the thread, I am planning to staple wire mesh to the bottom of the raised bed boxes (coming up 3" on the sides). In addition, I am also planning to put a sheet of wire mesh under the entire build site as well. Did you do this in your situation? I have a ton of mole, chipmunk and ground hog activity in my area.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful response,

    Terence

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @neff_terence I hope you will post pictures of your build as you go. If you wouldn't mind giving an approximate cost of your build that would be very helpful to other members here.

    And of course, we want to see pics of things growing!

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,116 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2022

    I love the look of these beds, just not the cost. We are out in the country and the garden will not be visible unless you are well onto my property. Much further than anyone has a reason to be if I am not walking them out to show them.

    That sais I went cheap and fairly easy. I hammered stakes into the ground and placed my boards inside them. Filling with soil as I went up. Soils holds the boards from falling inward and stakes hold them from falling outward.

    I have also just used stakes and logs or logs and very long spikes or screws to build beds. Didn't even debark the logs and the bed was always quite productive.

    So I guess it just depends on your level of comfort with cost and aesthetics.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @vickeym That's pretty much what we do, except that we don't hammer stakes into the ground. We build them as self supporting squares of wood, screwed together at the corners. It's perfectly possible to empty a bed of soil, pick up the square bed frame, and move it elsewhere. This also makes it easier to replace the wooden frame in the same location when the old one is rotted out, while keeping the same soil in place.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,116 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy Yes, we build that type of bed as well. Plan to build more that way. But if I need one in a hurry, I drive a stake in. It's not in that deep, but enough to hold it in place. Just so I can get a quick bed in place. Once I have a spot to actually put a garden and keep it there (so far I have had to move it every year) I plan to build more solidly built beds. Maybe by then I can retire and work on the garden the way I want to.

  • Suburban Pioneer
    Suburban Pioneer Posts: 339 ✭✭✭

    I have both raised bed containers and wicking gardens. In our dry climate, I vastly prefer the wicking gardens. The soil stays moist much longer and they're easier to water.

  • neff_terence
    neff_terence Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    @torey

    Sure thing, no problem. I will create a tally of my supplies with the costs and try to take some pictures as well.

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    I bought Vego raised beds. So far I have put two together. Fairly easy. I bought the 17" high ones, but they have a 42" high one also. There is another brand that is made in Australia. Then the gardener who has a YouTube channel, Self Sufficient Me, made one from a roll of black ?rubber?--it was probably a synthetic. That would be a lot cheaper and far quicker to assemble. I don't know yet how he liked it. I made two raised beds using concrete blocks, but I am nearing 80 years and am small. Those blocks are really heavy for me. These other beds are quite light by comparison. I do not put plastic down. Instead, I put newspaper down and cardboard, which is not really a good idea, it turns out. Then I add large logs and then smaller, like branches. I add whatever garbage I have and then my soil mix. This time I am going to put in lots of wood chips before I put in my soil. Filling the whole bed with soil mix is very expensive.