Critter Screen House

Atlanta gardener Carmen Collins had a critter problem in her backyard garden. So, she decided to enclose her entire garden in a screen room that kept the critters out, but also expressed her style and affection for gardening.

  • Critter Screen Room

    An Enclosed Garden

    Atlanta gardener Carmen Collins had a critter problem in her backyard garden. She wanted to grow more, but squirrels and other garden pests kept making a mess. So, to keep the garden pests out, she came up with a design that enclosed her entire garden — raised beds and all — and hired friend Keenan Phillips to build it. Then, as the following photos show, she made it look less like a critter barrier and more like a place to celebrate her favorite pastime.

  • Outdoor Screened Room Front Access

    Carmen's Command to Live

    A planter above the screen room's front door is inscribed with the word \"LIVE\" which Carmen says is \"both a command for what's growing inside, as well as a peacekeeping promise for the critters we agree to feed from the outside.\"

  • Tiered Window Boxes Create Intrigue

    Tiered Planters Outside

    Tiered strawberry boxes work as exterior window boxes for herbs and ornamentals that the critters won't want to disturb.

  • Terraced Planters in Screen Room

    Strawberries Grown Inside

    Mounted to the inside of the screen room walls are terraced planters for strawberries. Slow-drip irrigation hoses line the planters and spray irrigation nozzles are mounted to the screen room's wall studs. A layer of pea gravel finishes the floor of the screen room.

  • Cold frame for citrus trees

    Cold Frames for Trees

    Corrugated polycarbonate panels were used to create a few cold frames that keep citrus trees, such as Meyer lemon, from freezing during winter months. Lettuces and other leafy greens also can be grown in them.

  • Path Lighting Illuminates the Perimeter of the Outdoor Screen Room

    Lighted Beds

    Path lighting illuminates the flower beds that wrap the perimeter of the screen room.

  • Outdoor Screened Room

    Access from an Outdoor Kitchen

    The screen room is 25 feet long, 12 feet wide and 10 feet high. A back door was included on the screen room to allow easy access into the garden from an outdoor kitchen.

  • Outdoor Screened Garden Door

    All the Cracks are Sealed

    Squirrels and other four-legged garden pests can squeeze through tiny cracks. To keep them away from her veggies in the screen room, Carmen stapled vertical strips of quarter-inch flexible hardware cloth on the inside of the screen room, between the door frame and the door.

  • Outdoor Screened Room String Lights

    Holiday Lights

    Lights strung around the interior ceiling add the charm that makes the room feel less like a critter barrier and more the centerpiece of her backyard at night.

  • Outdoor Screened Garden Electrical and Water Access

    Wiring the Room

    A one-inch hole was drilled into the screen room for electrical (to power the holiday lights) and water lines. Rocks prevent the critters from getting inside.

  • Mesh Screens

    Keeping the Critters Out

    The screen room ceiling and walls were made of individual, framed panels covered with standard hardware cloth. To discourage diggers, Carmen buried the hardware cloth one foot deep and curled it outward six inches.

  • Espalier in a Critter Screen Room

    Garden Espalier

    Carmen chose to espalier her fruit trees within the screen room to make the most of her backyard's light and small space. Galvanized wire mounted along a wall holds the branches. Training the tree branches to grow in this way enables you to grow a lot of fruit in a small space.

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