Ask a Question forum: How to best allow access to my raised bed that's surrounded by chicken wire

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Syracuse, NY
SweetCaronia
May 10, 2018 10:22 PM CST
Hiya folks! I'm new here so brief intro: I'm pretty much a brand new gardener. I've only ever had the opportunity to work with small beds and containers. I've dreampt about having a yard, a garden, trees, the works, my entire life. Now, 35 years later, here I am. And I'm clueless. I guess having the dream was one thing but prepping for it was maybe a bit too depressing since I never actually thought it would happen.

So, this suburban house we bought last fall has a lovely, but rather large raised bed out back. I don't have measurements offhand. It's a good 14 paces from end to end. And maybe three paces wide. It's on a slope, so a foot and a half tall at one end, and a couple and half on the other. Forgive my antiquated measuring.

It is completely surrounded with a rather tall, but singular roll of chicken wire, and you can get into the bed where the roll begins and ends, leaving most of the bed inaccessible from outside. We have loads of wildlife; squirrels, birds, and more rabbits than imaginable. I suppose that's why the previous owners fenced it off.

My primary concern is access. I can't tend the bed (due to the wire) without stepping in. I've considered just planting around the edges and leaving a little path down the middle, but I'm not terribly thrilled with the idea of losing space and squashing soil. I've toyed with the prospect of chucking some boards across the top but then I'd be gardening in a hole. We have a bunch of the skinnier cinder blocks, and I've thought maybe I could lay a few of those down the center line, so I'm still gardening in a hole, but less so than with boards and minimizing soil squashing impact. From everything I've read soil squashing is ill advised, right?

I'd love some feedback from someone with some actual experience.

Thanks much for any feedback!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
May 11, 2018 5:40 AM CST
I would have a path down the middle some way. Lay the boards or blocks in the middle path so you have some stepping and standing places. Plants even benefit from having a little elbow room for their top parts, for sun and air circulation.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
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Name: Kyle
Middle TN (Zone 7a)
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quercusnut
May 11, 2018 5:47 AM CST
Maybe you could add a few more yards of chicken wire and bring the fence out 3-4 ft. from the edges?
Syracuse, NY
SweetCaronia
May 11, 2018 7:29 AM CST
One long edge is right up against the property line, so that just won't work. Thanks for the idea though!
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
May 11, 2018 7:36 AM CST
How is the wire attatched to the bed?
Staples?
Or left loose?
If left loose.... I suspect the previous owner simply took the wire down when working the bed.

Don't walk on the bed...
If need be.... Bring the wire out on your side.... Plan on doing that anyway, so that you can expand the garden.

I've seen those chicken wire enclosed beds.... Not how I'd do it.
When I enclose a garden.... I use welded wire, and enclose the entire yard... With a gate across the drive.

Those hungry bambi eat a lot more than just the veggies in the raised beds....
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
May 11, 2018 9:04 AM CST
Perhaps remove the chicken wire and see if anything bothers your garden? Store the chicken wire in case you need it.

If you do find that something is bothering your plants you can put the chicken wire back around the garden but I would suggest having it farther out leaving at least 3 feet (or more depending on your size) and adding some fence posts to hold the wire in place. Create a gate at either end for easy access.

Oh, and I liked your antiquated measurements; my daughter uses things like fingers, knuckles and cubits to tell me what size something is. I'm used to it.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Syracuse, NY
SweetCaronia
May 11, 2018 10:48 AM CST
The wire is attached with staples around the bottom edge and onto posts drilled into the side of the bed. We plan to fence the yard off next year, but we both just lost our jobs, so money's a little tight for any sort of large scale project. This isn't how I would've handled it either, if given a blank slate and/or unlimited funds. I'm in love with the whole idea of edible landscaping, and have loads of big ideas that I don't know how I'll ever actually afford to put into action.

Aaaanyway...

The rabbits' warren is close, there are as many as a half dozen bunnies in the yard on any given evening. Haven't seen any deer, it's a super residential area... but I still think the wire is probably a good idea, at least until we can afford a fence.

I think I'll try to see if I can extend one side of it out though, that's a fantastic idea! Thanks so much, folks! You've been an incredible help! Smiling

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