DIY Raised Garden Bed Design: The Watering System

DIY Raised Garden Bed Design: The Watering System

Today is the start of a 3 part series. So, you’ll need to return for all the details on building the hoop fencing and setting up a similar watering system.

These beds began as a general idea; they became an evolving project.

For our designs, we knew we needed pest control to keep out rabbits, and the occasional curious dog. We also had some general considerations. Did we need shade cover, what type of watering system would be best, how much space did we really need?

A month after beginning this project, we have our answers. Below you will find everything you need to build this sunken bed and you can return next Tuesday for all the fencing details.

Garden Bed Plans

Materials

  • 6- 4’ 10” beams
  • 6- 10’ 10” beams
  • 3’ x 25’ feet chicken wire ($19.77)
  1. Measure your beams. We repurposed beams we found in the yard and worked with 4’ and 10’ beams that were 4 inches thick.
  2. Dig your bed. Based on beam measurements, dig a hole to fit your structure. I dug a 11 x 5 foot hole that was 8 inches deep.
  3. Lay the beams. Lay the beams beginning with one of the longer sides. Lay the beams so they interlock in each corner.
  1. Line the beds. To prevent rodents from breaking into the beds, line the interior of the beds with chicken wire. Be sure your chicken wire covers the seam between beams.
  2. Secure the wire. Using a staple gun, secure the chicken wire in place.
  3. Prevent external growth. Line the bed up through the sides with recycled cardboard. We used a classy collection of PBR cardboard and banana boxes.
  4. Fill the beds. Given our soil composition, we chose to buy materials and mix our own soil (I did not include this in the pricing of our beds).
  5. Gravel around beds. Lay weed block and gravel around each bed to prevent weeds from growing into the beds. Secure the weed block to the beds with staples.

In total, this bed cost $19.77 for all materials. Had we needed to buy wood, our expense would have been considerably higher; however, taking the time to pull apart bolted beams can save you a bundle! This bed was so fantastic we built two more just like it.

Want to know more about how to build this bed? Look here: DIY Raised Garden Bed Design: Part 2, how to build the hoop frame and install fencing and for watering details in two weeks.

DIY Raised Garden Bed Design: Part 2

Last week I shared details on how to build this sunken garden bed. Since we live in the desert, it has prevented the ever-persistent moles from taking over the garden.

The hoop plans below serve a purpose as well. The hooping frame was covered in chicken wire to serve as a full fence that protects against rabbits and birds alike.

Materials Needed

  • 65 ft- ½ inch PVC piping ($11.77)
  • 2- 1/2 inch T joints ($1.02)
  • 4- 4 way joints ($3.72)
  • 12- galvanized brackets ($3.48)
  • 32 nails ($1.93)
  • 3’ x 75’ chicken wire ($51.00)
  • PVC cement ($8.82)
  1. Nail the galvanized brackets into place. See the graphics above. Do not nail these in place tightly; allow space for the frame to easily slip in.
  2. Connect the frame. Assemble the spine of the frame in the following order: T joint-16″ PVC-4 way joint-33″ PVC-4 way joint-32″ PVC-4 way joint-33″ PVC-4 way joint-16″ PVC-T joint.  Connect a 5 foot section of PVC piping to all remaining joint openings. Use glue to secure all joints once each piece has been fitted. See the graphic above for measurements.
  3. Install the frame. Place the frame into the galvanized brackets along one side. With the help of a kind friend, bend the frame and secure each piping section into its respective bracket on the opposite side.
  4. Tighten the brackets. Hammer the bracket nails into the bed so they are each secured tightly.
  5. Apply fencing to ends. Begin with each short end and work up. Staple the fencing to the base, roll the wire upwards, and cut where needed. Fold the fencing over the frame and secure onto itself.
  6. Apply fencing to long sides. Cut fencing into 3 x 5.5 foot sections. Secure the fencing to the top cross bar by folding it over on itself. Allow the excess to hang down toward the bottom.
  7. Secure the bottom. Staple the bottom of each 32″ and 16″ section, wrap the sides around the frame as needed. Feed PVC piping through the bottom of the 33″ sections. Pull down and secure with nails in a manner that will allow the fencing to slip off when needed and pulled down when not in use.
  8. Plant! To open the fencing doors, pull the fencing off the bottom nails and allow the fencing to roll up. Secure closed when finished.
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In total, this frame and fencing cost $81.44 for all materials. Including supplies for this garden bed, this project totals $101.51 for all materials.

The bed can easily transition into a hot house with plastic covering in winter and will make an easy 4 season bed. The work is basic and might even be described as fun with the right company.

Want to know more about how this bed works? Look for the watering details on DIY Raised Garden Bed Design: Part 3 – The Watering System.

DIY Raised Garden Bed Design: Part 3 – The Watering System

A while back, I started a series about setting up our garden beds (you can read the first part here and the second part here). The third post in the series never made it out.

Today, I am sharing the third and final post to our raised bed series. It details our methods with watering as well as my recommendations [and plans] for the 2014 garden.

General Lessons in Watering:

  1. Timers are worth the investment. We picked one up for under $20. Three of our beds were timed; one was not. The timed beds were always watered consistently. The untimed bed was not and production was low. A timer will save you hassle after busy workdays and make summer vacations much easier.
  2. Water at night. Because we’re in the desert, we planned for evening watering. Water begins to run a few hours after sunset and gives the plants plenty of time to absorb before sunrise.
  3. Watch closely. Just because you have an automated system doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep an eye on how your plants are being watered. Stay up a few times to see the set-up in action. We had to make several adjustments in the first few weeks.

Our Water Source in the Beds:

We used soaker hoses, rather than a drip system, for our water source in the beds because we thought they would save us time. We have two types of soakers, flat and round. Generally, the flat worked significantly better than the round. But neither were great.

Problems with the hose set-up:

  1. The Flat Hose. We have a flat hose in bed one. It was initially placed between the soil and mulch. We ended up finding spray spots where water would squirt out rather than gently soak out. We also found that this hose needs to be buried more. The hose permeates the water above and below relatively well and needs to get the best moisture distribution.
  2. The Round Hose. This one is awful! We used one it in bed two and three. It distributes water very unevenly and leaves our beds with dry spots. I ended up planting along the hose to guarantee the plants would receive the water they need.
  3. Laying the Hose. These hoses are difficult to maneuver to fit your bed. They require stakes and sometimes even additional reinforcement to keep them in place.

Lesson Learned:

We wasted money on soaker hoses, rather than taking the time to set-up a drip system. Next year, we will be taking the time to set up a better system.

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