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How to Plan A Successful Vegetable Garden, Part 2

Now for some of the bigger questions

Raised beds or In-ground

Do you want your garden to be in the ground or in raised beds. One method is not necessarily better than the other, but is more a matter of personal choice. My garden has both types.

Raised bed advantages

  • Easier installation- No grass to be removed or ground to be dug up
  • Soil is always good- You bring in the material so you never need to worry about what’s underneath, whether too sandy, too much clay, nothing but bedrock or if the existing soil is contaminated
  • Keeps plants above temporarily flooded areas
  • Easier to use for people with knee or back problems
  • Warms up earlier in spring, so planting can be done earlier
Raised Bed on Bedrock

Raised Beds Can Be Installed Even Where There's No Soil

In-ground bed advantages

  • Heats up more slowly than raised beds, they stay moist longer in the summer heat
  • Less expensive to install
  • Stays warm longer at the end of the year, so plants life can be extended
To Fence or Not to Fence

In our area most people will need to contend with deer, groundhogs (woodchucks), rabbits or some combination of the three. And sometimes with other animals including chipmunks and bears (there not really anything you can do about bears), but the first three are the biggies. Fencing works very nicely to keep the big three out of your garden. There are sprays that are purported to work, but they need to be reapplied regularly and none that I know of are effective on groundhogs.

Deer & Rodent Fencing

Typical Deer/Groundhog Fence

Fencing for deer (what I like to use though there are many alternative systems)

  • At least 7 ft tall- will keep out all but the most athletic deer
  • Plastic mesh fencing- what you can get at most nurseries is not usually strong enough. I get mine at Benner’s Garden, online.
  • Needs to be staked into the ground or deer can lift it and go under.

Fencing for Groundhogs/Rabbits

  • 3-4 feet tall
  • Made from metal- I use chicken wire, 1″ mesh. To prevent animals from eating through and young groundhogs from wriggling through
  • Dug into the ground 6-8″ and laid along the bottom of the trench away from the garden, so the groundhogs can’t dig under it
  • Metal posts- groundhogs are excellent climbers and could climb over the fence if wood posts are used
  • If you only need a rodent fence, it’s best for the fence to have some give to it. Groundhogs won’t climb over an obstacle that starts to give under them when they try to climb it

If you are fencing for both deer and rodents, install the chicken wire outside the plastic fencing.


Your plants won’t survive for very long without water, so figuring out how to that is very important. There are three basic options- sprinklers, soaker hoses, drip irrigation.

Sprinklers– I strongly urge that sprinklers not be used for the following reasons

  • Waste a lot of water- you’re watering your veggies, but also the weeds, pathways and probably the lawn around your garden
  • Encourages diseases, especially fungal diseases- because leaves get wet and stay wet longer

Soil-level watering is better and includes both soaker hoses and drip irrigation.

Soaker hoses

  • Made out of a porous rubber that allows water to seep out of the hose.
  • Laid along the rows of plants in your garden and so they deliver the water only to your plants and not your weeds.
  • The hoses come in a variety of lengths (most commonly 25’ or 50′)
  • Multiple soaker hoses can be linked together if needed. Don’t link together more than about 150’ of soaker hose together because by the end the water will be coming out too slowly to get the right amount of water to the plants.
  • Very easy to install and fairly inexpensive
  • Only last for 2-3 years, then they develop leaks

Drip irrigation

  • A more sophisticated version of soaker hoses.
  • Water comes only in specific places know as drippers or emitters.
  • Drippers can either be built into the hose or be attached to the tubing.
  • Water only comes out exactly where your plants are located.
  • Somewhat more involved to install than soaker hoses, but I did it just by following directions from the company that I bought the system from.
  • Lasts years longer than soaker hose and is easy to repair.
  • More expensive than soaker hose, but I only spent about $200 to set up my garden with drip irrigation.

That’s it for now. One more installation to come.

2 Responses to “How to Plan A Successful Vegetable Garden, Part 2”

  1. Brian says:

    Hi, nice article. We did something similar although I had to comment. We also had used the fencing from the company you mentioned but it did not last and seemed to fall apart. We ended up replacing it and after getting samples the CT company Critter Fence had the best product in my opinion. It has been up for 2 seasons now without any issues. Just my two cents. Their website is http://www.deerfencing.com

  2. Jay says:

    Sorry you had trouble with Benner’s products. I’ve had some fences using their products for 4 years and they seem to be fine. You may have just gotten a bad batch. Also, I’ve used products from company called MacGregor Fence since I wrote that post (because they’re less expensive) and I have a feeling that they get their products from the same supplier as Benner.

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