Gopher Proof Garden Beds

In December my husband and I moved into a lovely rental house. One of the conditions of the move was that we would have an awesome back yard, with a large garden area. I quickly discovered, after we signed the lease of course, that the backyard is infested with gophers. This is awful, as the one to two gophers I have dealt with in the past have taken out many of my plants. Now there are many other issues with the yard, one of them being that the landlord will only let us put a garden in one specific area of the yard, which as of now only gets 3-4 hours of sun...not good enough for the tomatoes and squash I love so much, but I am hoping as the sun shifts, the sunlight will hit the garden area more. But, back to the issue at hand. One issue at time right? I think I have come up with a way to keep the pesky gophers from destroying my plants, without actually causing them any harm or even deterring them from the yard. Essentially, you simply place chicken wire at the bottom of your garden beds. This allows the roots to grow down, but prevents the gophers from getting at the vast majority of the vegetable root system. Sure they will be able to nibble the ends of the roots, but they cannot destroy the plants, if they cannot reach the rest of the roots.

I have dubbed this invention, Gopher Proof Garden Beds. I am quite certain I am not the first to think the following concept up, but I think it is a great idea, and hopefully it works as well as believe it will.

The gopher proof garden bed!

Gopher Proof Garden Beds Tutorial

Purchase Materials:
  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Chicken wire
  • Wire Cutters
  • Wood 
  • Screws/nails

The space before we got our hands on it. You can kind of see
the sticks we have in the ground, marking the corners for each bed.

Measure and Mark Your Garden Bed Space(s)
After we weeded.
I decided I wanted two small square raised beds and two long thin beds that would not be raised (these two will be for my squash and tomatoes. Both of these grow so large, I did not want them to cast a shadow over or cover my other plants, so I decided to place them in the ground away from everything else.) My husband, Doug, and I went out into our yard, working within the confines of the dim garden area our landlord allowed, and picked out the areas for each of the four beds. We then measured each area and stuck a stick in the ground to mark the corners of each bed.

Weed the Bed Space(s)
This is a tedious process, but it should reduce the amount of weeds you end up with inside the beds later.

One of the 5X5 holes.

Dig the Hole(s)
I decided to make my two square beds, 5ftX5ft and 12 inches deep. This means, that I needed to dig 5ftX5ft hole that was 6-8 inches deep. (The wood will rest on the ground at the 6-8 inch mark and the remaining 4-6 inches will be above ground.)

I also had two garden beds that were not going to be raised. I did not want to dig a 12 inch hole, so I stuck with my 6-8 inch decision and ended up with two 2.5ftX6ft beds that were both about 6-8 inches deep.

I recommend using a wheel barrow for the dirt for each hole. This is something we did not have, and we essentially dug 8 holes after we finished because after we shoveled the dirt out of the hole, eventually we had to shovel it all back into the hole.

The chicken wire in the 5X5 bed.

Measure and Cut Your Chicken Wire
One of the beds that will not be a raised bed.
The chicken wire I purchased was 3ft wide and 50ft long. I cut two 5ft long pieces. I laid one of these 3ftX5ft pieces in one of the 5ftX5ft holes and then laid the second 3ftX5ft piece next to it. It is okay if they overlap, that is just added protection against the gophers.

I did the same for the second 5ftX5ft bed.

For the 2.5X6ft beds, I cut two 6ft pieces, giving me two 3ftX6ft pieces of chicken wire. I then laid one piece in each hole. It is important that the chicken wire come up the sides of these beds a bit. This will help keep the gophers from entering the bed from the side.

The finished 5X5 bed, without the dirt. :)

Make the Wooden sides of the Raised Bed
I purchased my wood at Home Depot and had them cut it for me. I took four pieces of wood (10inX5ft) and screwed them together (using two screwed for each corner) to create a raised bed.

I repeated the process for the second raised bed.

My new garden. The bed to the right still needs more dirt.
We also cannot dig level beds, but all in all, I think the
gophers will have to be some crafty buggers to get my

Fill Your Holes/ Garden Beds with Dirt
This was the fun part, as you really get to see your garden beds come to life - well as much life as there is before you see all the plants emerge!

I am using primarily the dirt from the yard, but I also added a, organic garden dirt and some dirt specifically for raised beds, to help with drainage.

Let me know your thoughts. I plan to post pictures of the garden once it starts growing. Currently the plants are growing in little pots, in an area of the yard that actually gets 6 or more hours of sun. My fingers are crossed that the new beds will get full sun in the summer!


  1. Looks like you aren't "gophing" around!

    1. When I decide to do something, I really "gopher" it!

    2. Gopher? I hardly know'er!