Most of our raised beds are 3x3 foot square. From fall until spring, we load them with leaves to keep the weeds out (this also has kept the cats out) until we are ready to get to our spring planting. Come spring, however, when we take out the leaves and get the soil prepped for planting, the beds are frequently visited by the neighborhood cats. Of course, seeds are dug up as well as new plant starts, and the surprises left behind are definitely not pleasant.
We bought a 16 x 16 foot package of bird netting at our local nursery and hardware store for about $9.00. My husband had some chain link fence posts he had salvaged that he cut into 3 1/2 feet long sections, and as a team, we cut the bird netting roughly into 3 1/2 by 3 1/2 ft. squares. He would take the netting, position one side along the length of the fence post, and hold it for me while I took 2 inch-wide painter's tape (the blue masking tape) and adhered the netting to the post. Last, we used ties (8 inch length) to secure the netting to the post. The masking tape worked great to just keep the netting in place so that we could attach the ties. Took about 6 - 7 ties per post. I call them netting scrolls because they can be rolled up like a scroll to carry around or to store.
These are placed on the planter box top, rolled out, and voila: This becomes a barrier to animals, but will still allow sun, air, and water to get into the boxes. It will also protect the planted seeds and starts.
The weight of the fence post pieces keeps the netting taut and hanging over the sides. When I need to access the box, I just take one end and partially roll it up, letting it rest on the box, then roll back out when done.
When the plants are big enough, I will roll up the netting scrolls and store them out of the way until they are needed again. I am hoping I will get plenty of years out of them.
By the way, that one bag of netting is enough to make 16 netting scrolls (for 3x3 ft. raised beds).
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