Make This! Garden covers keep out leaves and critters
by Deirdre Long
Oct 28, 2012 | 2928 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Build your own garden covers with hardware cloth, PVC pipe and zip tires. Photo: Deirdre Long/The Anniston Star
Build your own garden covers with hardware cloth, PVC pipe and zip tires. Photo: Deirdre Long/The Anniston Star
For a variety of reasons — oppressive heat, mosquito attacks and, yes, laziness — I completely neglected my garden over the summer. Didn’t plant a thing, didn’t even add in the four bags of manure I bought in May.

But once the weather cooled down a bit, I got the itch to get things growing again. The good thing about Alabama’s heat is that we have a very long growing season, so while I may have missed out on homegrown tomatoes, I wasn’t going to miss out on fall crops — cabbage, radishes, carrots, spinach.

But around the time I started turning over my soil, my garden’s enemies started to appear. They are pests, but not of the six-legged variety. My garden is plagued by cats, squirrels and acorns.

You see, I live in east Anniston, so my options for garden placement were pretty limited when I built it last year. My backyard was ruled out completely, because of our wonderful 100-foot oak tree. It does a great job of shading our yard, too good in fact. Even after trimming away some major branches, there’s not a sunny spot to be found.

That leaves the front yard, specifically the 6-foot plot between my driveway and the retaining wall into the neighbors’ yard. It gets about six hours of daylight during the summer, but towering over it to the side is … another huge oak tree.

Therein lies the acorn/squirrel problem. The critters didn’t seem to be eating my sprouts, but they were digging huge holes to bury their acorns. I don’t know why they even needed to bury them — there were hundreds falling into the garden every day.

You would think the neighborhood cats would keep the squirrels away, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. And there’s nothing a cat likes better than to dig a hole in freshly-turned soil and do its dirty business. Ew.

I needed some garden covers to keep these pests away. After doing a little research on the Web, I had a plan: hardware cloth, PVC pipe and zip ties. Seemed simple enough.

I went into Lowe’s with those general ideas and the measurements for my covers: 3-foot by 5-foot.

What I didn’t have was any real idea on how to actually build the frame. I wandered the plumbing aisle for a good while, trying to not be the frazzled mom who needed help. That’s as one child was taking her shoes off and the other was trying to eat one of the 10-foot PVC pipes.

Then James came to the rescue. I failed to get James’ last name, but he is the nicest and most awesome Lowe’s employee I have ever met. I explained what I wanted to make and James immediately knew what to do — he said he had built several frames for his garden the same way. Not only did he gather everything I needed to build three frames, he even built the first one for me in the aisle, so I could just copy it when I got home. He didn’t mind letting my little girl “help” him build the frame either, and then he gave both my children wood model cars to build when we got home — after he helped me haul everything I needed to the front of the store. Yeah, he’s that awesome.

I used hardware cloth — sheets of plastic with 1/2 inch squares cut in it — to cover my frames, because I needed holes small enough to catch most acorns, but still let in enough light. If critters are your only problem, chicken wire or some other thin wiring would work just as well. If you use bendable wire, you won’t need zip ties.

This week I pulled the first radishes from the soil, and some of my spinach should be ready by next week. My carrots, swiss chard and peas are starting to make an appearance, and with all this warm weather, they should probably make it to harvest. Now all I have to do is get the critters that live in my house to eat them.

Items used:

1⁄2 inch PVC piping
Slip-on T fittings
Slip-on side outlet elbow fittings
6-inch zip ties
hardware cloth
PVC cutters

Deirdre Long blogs about her creations at
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Make This! Garden covers keep out leaves and critters by Deirdre Long

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