Winter is right around the corner, which means plants are going to become scarce. Unfortunately, a favorite meal of hungry deer during the winter is personal gardens!
Pre-made garden covers are usually overpriced, and there might not be one out there to fit your specific gardening needs. That’s why we’re covering how to build a PVC pipe garden cover, a low-cost project that will keep your garden from becoming an animal’s midnight snack. Without further ado, let’s get building!
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Step 1: Getting the Materials
Fortunately, the materials needed for this DIY project are easy to acquire and relatively low in price. To build a garden cover out of PVC pipe, you will need:
- ¾” PVC pipe – 5’ length (the number of lengths you will need depends on the size of your garden and the number of covers you want to make. For our build, we used seven 5’ lengths)
- ¾” PVC Side Outlet Elbow (4)
- ¾” 4-way PVC Furniture Fitting – Side Outlet Elbow(2)
- Tape Measure
- PVC Cutter (if you use pipe with an OD of 1” or less, the standard PVC cutter will suffice. If you use pipe with an OD greater than 1”, you will want to use a heavy-duty PVC cutter)
- PVC Primer & Cement (optional)
- Deer netting (any kind of heavy-duty netting is fine. Wire is also an option, but it is harder to work with than netting)
- Scissors (pliers if you use wire)
- Zip ties (at least 10)
¾” PVC pipe is not a requirement; we chose to use it because it is relatively easy to cut and still sturdy enough for a garden cover. Pipes with larger OD’s work just as well and are sturdier, although slightly harder to cut. However, we do not recommend using pipe with an OD smaller than ¾”.
Step 2: Cutting the Pipe and Making the Top Frame
Once you’ve got your materials, the next step is to measure out and make your pipe cuts. The measurements required will differ between each garden. For our build, we decided to make a 2.5’ x 5’ garden cover.
First, use your tape measure and marker to mark 2.5’ cuts onto each of the 5’ lengths. This will have you cutting all your 5’ lengths in half, leaving you with one 2.5’ length left over in case you make a mistake. Next, simply use your PVC cutter to make cuts along the marker lines.
Once you have your cuts made, it is time to build the top part of the garden cover frame. Take one of your 2.5’ lengths and attach one 3-way elbow to each end.
To position the elbows correctly, make sure one opening is facing the other elbow, one is facing straight down, and one is pointing vertically towards the opposite end of the frame. Insert a 2.5’ length into the sockets facing the opposite end of the frame. Next, place a 4-way fitting onto the end of each 2.5’ length.
One open socket should be facing straight down, one pointing vertically towards the other end of the frame, and one pointing towards the opposite 4-way fitting. Insert a 2.5’ length into the two sockets facing each other, creating a 2.5’ x 2.5’ square.
Next, insert a 2.5’ length into the sockets facing vertically towards the opposite end of the frame. Finally, attach a 3-way elbow onto each 2.5’ length and use one more 2.5’ length to connect the elbows and close-off the frame. Once you finish these steps, your top frame is complete and should look like two 2.5’ squares sharing a side:
Step 3: Building the Bottom Frame
The next step is to build the bottom part of the frame of your PVC garden cover. This step can be a tad bit tricky to do by yourself, so get someone to help you with it if possible. Take two 2.5’ lengths and insert them into the downward-facing 3-way elbow sockets on either end of the frame.
If you have another person to help you, you can insert the lengths into both ends of the frame at once. If not, simply do one end at a time. Once the ends of the outer frame have their legs, insert a 2.5’ length into the downward-facing sockets of the 4-way fittings. Once you’ve installed the 3 sets of legs, your frame is practically done! Simply compare the frame to your garden to make sure the frame’s size is to your liking.
This is a good point to redo any cuts or replace any components you are not happy with. It is also a good time to paint your frame or add any cosmetic personal touches.
Once you are happy with the size and looks of your garden frame, you can take apart the build and redo it with primer and cement, if desired. Simply coat the ends of each pipe length and the insides of each fitting with primer, wait for the primer to dry, and coat the same areas in PVC cement before putting the frame back together.
We did not use primer and cement in our build. However, opting to use them is helpful if you live in an area with very strong winds or if you just want extra peace of mind.
Step 4: Attaching the Netting and Finishing Up
Once the frame is finished, the last step is to attach the wiring. Take your deer netting (or wire) and unroll it, draping it over the frame. It is tricky to get a singular, whole-frame cut from the netting, so don’t worry if the first cut leaves some openings. Make as many additional cuts as necessary and use the zip ties to secure the netting to the frame.
If there are noticeable gaps at the base of the netting, use a zip tie to attach an additional piece of netting or to tie the netting around the opening together. Using chicken wire over deer netting for this project is a great way to add extra protection to your garden and ensure no wild animals can get to it.
However, it is more expensive to use and more time-consuming to cut and fasten than chicken wire. Also, worth mentioning is the fact that zip ties last roughly year before they start to quickly degrade and weaken.
You can use wire instead for a more permanent fix, replace them after a year, or simply leave them if your garden is a short-term project. Once you finish attaching the wire, your PVC garden cover is complete! It should look something like this:
We hope this PVC garden cover guide will help you prepare your plants for deer season! The netting/wire acts as a great deterrent against hungry deer (or any critter for that matter!) looking to make a meal out of your plant bed.
This project is also great because it is versatile. Simply drape an opaque tarp over the frame if you need to protect your plants from receiving excess sunlight.
Additionally, you can put a thicker tarp on the frame if you need to protect your plants from frost. This project is also much cheaper than a pre-made garden frame and can be easily customized to suit your needs and preferences. Thanks for reading, and happy building!
Amanda Hill is the Marketing Manager at PVC Fittings Online, a leading supplier of PVC pipe, fittings, valves, cutting tools, and more. Amanda writes on various PVC topics and enjoys using her knowledge of PVC products to build all kinds of DIY projects.
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