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  • Dana Tutela

Enclosed Kitchen Garden

Updated: May 7

kitchen garden with black stained deer proof fence

Follow me on my journey to create an enclosed deer proof kitchen garden!

After years of battling deer, my husband and I decided to build an enclosed kitchen garden filled with raised beds. Being surrounded by woods made this a little challenging, but we did our research and made the decision to clear some of the property. Our plan included several goals: an enclosed garden space, sites for a chicken coop and a shed, green space for dogs and hubby to play, and a site for a future orchard. It took over two years, but it is finished and I love it!

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Phase 1: Enclosed Kitchen Garden Site Prep

We had to clear about half an acre of woods on our property to begin this project. I wanted it to be near the house and accessible by a short path through the woods. Luckily, there was a flat area in the woods in front of our house that gently sloped down towards our very long driveway. This site faced the morning sun and was shaded by the trees in late afternoon-perfect! Bob was able to keep most of the trees for firewood which saved on hauling them away and the need to buy firewood ever again!

cleared land with stack of logs

Once the trees were gone, a crew came in to remove the stumps and grade the rest of the hillside. Before long, we had grass growing and flags marking the four corners of the enclosed garden. We did have some drainage issues that were resolved with rocks and stabilizing plants. Finally, we were able to get to the fun part-building the garden!

grassy hillside

Phase 2: Building the Enclosed Kitchen Garden

We began by staking out the corner posts to create a 24 x 24 foot square. I say that like we just walked up there and plunked in the flags. No, it was probably the hardest part of this whole project. We had stakes and string and measuring tapes and a complete library of profanity. Apologies to the neighbors who overheard us. Google how to stake a square!

Once we had our four corners, we placed the Vego Raised Beds exactly where I wanted them. This might seem backwards, but it made more sense to me to put them in before building the enclosure in case we needed to adjust our footprint. It also allowed me to start filling them with dirt and planting for the spring. More on filling the raised beds later!

empty vego raised beds

Next we marked our posts every 4 feet and started digging holes. Keep in mind my husband had both knees replaced during this process. So I purchased a battery operated auger to prepare the post holes. Bob was extremely skeptical at first, but I’m pretty sure he would say right now that it was one of the best purchases ever! Worked like a charm! Even in our packed red clay and gravel, it powered through it. When it hit a rock or root, we used a metal pick to break it up and then continued with the auger. We captured the dirt with a post hole digger and spread it around the garden perimeter. This is the Ryobi Auger we purchased!

Battery powered auger

After the holes were dug, we added the posts and poured concrete to secure them in place.

enclosed kitchen garden construction

After staining the 4x4 posts, we screwed 2x4 head rails and footer rails to them.

two men building deer proof kitchen garden

We then ran hog wire between the posts and stapled in place. In order to hide the wire edges, we covered the 4x4 posts and 2x4 rails with 1x4 boards and sandwiched the wire in the middle.

two dogs in deer proof kitchen garden

deer proof garden construction

We also glued a wooden cap on each post to dress it up a bit. Finally, Bob built two beautiful arbor style gates with lattice walls on either side for my climbing plants. I love to walk through the gate on one side of the garden and out the gate on the other. In the end, there was significantly more lumber involved in this project than I anticipated, but it turned out beautifully!

deer proof kitchen garden build

deer proof garden with arbor

*Ginger Tip: To help deter deer from jumping the fence, (they can jump over 8 feet), we added string lights at the top and placed multiple raised beds inside to prevent a clear landing inside the garden.

Phase 3: Making the Enclosed Kitchen Garden Pretty

When it came time to stain, I debated long and hard between white or black until a storm rolled through and splashed orange clay all over the posts. Problem solved! Black was the winner! I chose Black Magic from Sherwin Williams in a solid stain and I love it! I regret not staining all of the wood before putting up the hog wire because it was very difficult after the fact. However, experts say to let treated lumber dry out before staining, so that’s what we did. I spent days (weeks?) staining with little rollers and cheap brushes until it was finally finished.

paint chip fan deck

Final details-Bob strung Patio Lights around the enclosure and put them on a timer so I can see the garden from the house at night. We also added pea gravel between the raised beds to keep it clean and bright. I love the crunching sound of walking on pea gravel. Weeds still manage to find their way into the rocks, but they’re easy enough to pull. Years ago, Bob bought me a turquoise bistro table for my birthday. It has a new home in my garden now, and it’s perfect for a glass of wine while the sun sets over the hill.

vego kitchen garden

After enjoying a few seasons with my enclosed kitchen garden, I can say that the deer have not been able to find a way into it. They nibble on raspberries and blackberries that poke through the hardware cloth, but I'm fine with that. They were here first, after all.

bird bath in kitchen garden

Want to make your garden a place to relax? Read 6 Ways to Create a Relaxing Garden.

ginger relaxing in garden

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