Deer, marmots (groundhogs), chipmunks, rabbits and a very sore back!  What do these all have in common?  They are all things that have kept me from having the most amazing garden…until this year!  The answer to my most nagging problems is raised garden beds, and I don’t just mean slightly raised, I mean 32″ raised.  I found the best raised garden bed at SproutBox Garden and they saved me from all most complete disaster.

White daisies at sunset with a lake and picket fence in the background

You have all become accustomed to seeing my beautiful garden around our vintage greenhouse which we have surrounded in fences, tall trellises and even electric fencing to keep the animals out.  Unfortunately, the marmots found a new way in by digging through the ground and rock and also by slipping through the smallest spaces.  They ate all of my spring perennials and not just a little, they ate them down to their roots and destroyed them completely.  

White picket fence surrounding greenhouse

Needless to say I was heartbroken.  Enduring long cold Canadian winters are only possible with the hope of spring flowers for me and those little piggies ruined it.  I couldn’t let it get to me though because this is truly part of country living, so I had to figure out a solution.

Rodent eating a clover

I should also mention that I do have traditional raised beds in this area which were built with untreated wood but the marmots can easily climb the wooden frame so no matter how tall they were, the marmots would get in.  

Thankfully, the raised beds from Sproutbox Garden arrived in early spring and I was hopeful that given their height and that they are made of metal, the wildlife would not be able to climb them.  Of course, fencing was needed for the deer but to be honest, once you have a tall fence the deer are not a problem.  They don’t dig under, push their way through or try to jump over.  The marmots, however, do everything they can to penetrate any line of defence you might have.

IMPORTANT

If you do decide to purchase something through Sproutbox Garden, be sure to use my special discount code “SVA10”!

Disclaimer: Sproutbox Garden gifted me with these raised garden beds. They have not paid me for this post and my opinions expressed here are my own.

Sproutbox Garden and Sweet Valley Acres Discount code banner

WHY I CHOSE SPROUTBOX GARDEN RAISED GARDEN BEDS

Not only was the height of the raised garden beds important due to the marmots and a back injury I suffer from, but the materials were very important.  I did not want anything that would leach harmful chemicals into the soil because I was using some of the beds to grow fruit and vegetables.  Old railroad ties, pressure-treated lumber, and concrete blocks were definitely not options.  

I quickly learned that not all raised garden bed kits are made alike.  Sproutbox uses Aluzinc coated steel which is mostly steel that is galvanized with a special alloy made of zinc, aluminum, and silicon.  Aluzinc coated steel is resistant to corrosion, exceptionally strong, has advanced heat reflectivity so it keeps the soil at the proper temperature and it does not break down over time, so there is no worry of contamination to your food crops.  To read all of the benefits in full detail, just click this link.

Color was also important to me.  Prior to seeing the Sproutbox planters, I thought the only choice was the galvanized steel color.  I am happy to say that Sproutbox raised planters come in Pampas, Slate Grey and Euculyptus.  I chose Pampas because it coordinated well with the rock colors that we have so much of in and around our garden. 

Color choices for Sproutbox Garden raised beds

PLANNING YOUR GARDEN DESIGN

The very first thing I did prior to ordering the raised garden beds was to design the space.  I measured the area I was working on and created an overhead view of it on graph paper.  I love symmetrical gardens, so repetition and symmetry were very important when laying out the garden beds.  Then I researched the various sizes of planters and then came up with a few configurations.  

I knew having arbors was a must so I walked around the area and thought about the very best sight lines for photography.  Now you may not be wanting to share your garden on social media, but I highly suggest that photography sight lines are something you should give a lot of thought to.  It doesn’t matter if the photos are only for you, you still want them to look nice, right?  

Here are some questions, you should ask yourself. Is there something you don’t want in the background?  Is the view better in one direction?  How will the sunlight move across the garden during the day?  

For me, the neighbours’ homes are not something I want in the background.  While their homes are nice, it just kind of kills the pretty garden vibe and breaks the mood.  For this new garden area, 3 directions have great views (hillside, pool and lake) so I planned every planter to either block the view of the homes I didn’t want to see or take advantage of the various good views.

I also get my best photos during the golden hour – the hour or so as the sun is setting and sets a golden hue over the garden.  So once again, the planters were situated to enjoy the late day sun glow.

Once I had a couple of designs, then I started placing the arbors.  I wanted to walk through the arbors and have the most amazing view at the end of the tunnel.  Everyone does typically one tunnel of arbours but I decided to go to the extreme and create crisscrosses of arbors.  This way I can get all three great views through the tunnels of arbors.  If I had done one tunnel, I would have missed out on two beautiful views.

Here was my first design.  

Raised garden bed layout for garden

It wasn’t symmetrical enough for me, so I went back to the drawing board.  It turned out that there was plenty of room to add a few more planters, so of course I did!  Here is my second design.

I sent my drawings off to Erick at Sproutbox and he suggested that instead of the planters being 8 ft long, that they should be 6.5 feet and that way I could fit two more into the area. Great thinking Erick!!!

Raised garden bed layout for garden

With the design finalized and the order in, next was prepping the area where they would be located. First we had to create an even base for the planters or else they would have been warped and tilted.  We had to bring all of the materials in with a motorized wheelbarrow because no vehicles can reach this area of the garden.  Starting with a base of what is called “dirty sand” which is a mix of sand and very small gravel, we levelled it out and then ran a compactor over it.

Ground prepped for raised garden beds

Next we transferred the garden bed design to the compacted ground with orange spray paint.  I was thrilled to see my design coming together and it was the perfect fit for the area!  

I should also mention, Bentley, used a small narrow shovel to insert underground watering lines that would feed all of the garden beds.

Now for the fun stuff, let’s start constructing the raised garden beds!

Step 1 – Remove protective coating

I was so impressed with the quality of the products because they were packaged well and they had a layer of plastic secured to the painted side of planter so that they came in perfect condition without scratches!!!  We removed all of the plastic and then laid them out in the shape of the planter we wanted.  

Keep in mind that you can configure the planters in many different dimensions, in fact the set that I received allowed me to create 9 different shapes and different sizes.  

Girl peeling protective coating off of one of the panels for a raised garden bed

Step 2 – Assemble sides

Depending on your configuration, assemble the straight sides.  For me, that meant that I had three straight panels per side.  

Three sproutbox panels put together

Push the bolt with the flatter side on the outside through the holes in the panels and then secure with a washer and a cap.

Screw up close

Step 3 – Assemble ends

You could work your way around the planter, adding panel by panel, but we were a group of three putting them together so we put them together in sections.  For the ends, we used one straight panel flanked by corner panels on either side.

Step 4 – Put all sides together

Attach the side panels to the end panels.  

Sproutbox put together

Step 5 – Bracing rods

The bracing rods go in the middle of the planter from one straight side to the other.  Remove the cap and washer from the bolts at the 3rd from the bottom row and the 3rd from the top row.  Screw the bracing rods to each side and tighten.

Step 6 – Apply rubber edging

Push the rubber edging on all the way around the top. You can push the rubber edging on with your fingers, but of course Bentley likes to find the easiest way so he used a roller to push it on and it worked brilliantly.

Applying rubber edging onto raised garden beds
Sproutbox with lake in background

Step 7 – Filling the planters

Place a thick piece of cardboard in the bottom of the planter to keep the weeds from coming through.  It is recommended that you fill the bottom half or 2/3 of the planter with tree rounds, wood chips, sticks, leaves and other organic matter.  This provides an organic base, good drainage and also makes it so that you do not have to add so much garden soil.  

It is recommended that for raised garden beds you should have a minimum of 8″ of garden soil at the top.  We did not have enough branches, leaves or organic matter to fill the base so Bentley built a wood base riser out of thick boards as seen below.  It was a great way to save on soil.

We then covered it with a pond liner because pond liners do not leech any chemicals into the soil.  The liner is necessary so that the wood does not break down and then collapse.

Wood base in sprout box garden planter
Pool liner on wood base in sprout box


As there were small gaps between the planter and the wood riser/liner, we lined that area with filter cloth so that the soil would not disappear down the cracks.   It is recommended for raised garden beds that you should have a minimum of 8″ of garden soil at the top.  In my flower beds I have 10 inches of soil and in the vegetable garden beds I have 14 inches of soil – you can see that I am expecting to grow some very long carrots ahahaha!!! 

Filter cloth stuffed in edges of sprout box

Step 8 – Adding arbors

Bentley went to a local fencing company and got this galvanized cattle fencing.  He cut it into strips 1 feet wide for the ends and 2.5 feet wide for the sides.

Once the soil was dug away, he pushed the fencing down to the wood riser.  He then had aluminum strips that the drilled holes into at the same distance away as the bolts were on the planter.  This saved him from drilling extra holes into the planters.

Arbour in raised garden box

Attaching was simple, he unscrewed the bolts, put the strip on over the bolt and then reattached the cap.

Securing arbour with strapping in sprout box

The Finished Product

My vision is coming to life. Keep in mind that the ground is slightly sloped to allow for drainage as there is a hill on the right hand side of this photo and when we get rain the water runs down it. Therefore, we need to keep it going so it does not puddle anywhere.

Arbours coming out of raised garden beds

Below is the most important view I wanted to get looking through the arbors to the lake.

Can you imagine when these beds are filled with flowers and vines and the lake is peeking through?

It is going to be magical!

Arbours in sprout box garden beds

And now you see why design and location are so important because I am able to capture the sunset through the arbors and planters.

Sunset behind raised garden beds

Here is the beauty of the “golden hour”. That warm glow cascading over all of the flowers is one of my favorite things in life.

Pretty flowers in raised garden bed with lake in background

And six weeks later…

Raised garden bed mid summer with cosmos, vines, potato vines, etc.
Raised garden beds with sherbet colored snapdragons growing

Thank you!

As always, thank you for opening my email or clicking on the link on Instagram and for reading right to the bottom! I appreciate each and every one of you!

What is next on the blog?

Coming up soon, I will be sharing my “flower design” for the planters which requires consideration of bloom time, color, height, etc., so that the flower beds are beautiful throughout the season.

Bigger news though…

Sproutbox Garden gifted me with their latest raised garden bed design and I cannot wait to share it with you. It is SO UNIQUE AND SO WONDERFUL…it deserved it’s very own post!

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Below are links to products I thought you might like. Just click on the photo to go to the product page. Should you decide to purchase something, I will earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.

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2 Comments
  • Diane
    July 12, 2023

    What a beautiful garden!!! Thanks so much for sharing in the Fabulous Friday Link Party. We are thrilled to be featuring you this week.

    • Crystal
      July 12, 2023

      Oh my goodness! Every single time I am thrilled and honoured! Thank you so very much!