new project - advice needed =)

j0nd03January 7, 2014

Ok, here's the sitch. I had a near disaster this year with that stupid rat eating all my seedlings and some trees - he even climbed up 4' trees where he bit the ends off of every branch! He decimated my chinese fringetree seed bed and whacked most nearly all of my other seedlings back if not outright killing them. I would like to avoid this in the future and do so by building a sturdy structure in an economically feasible manner. What I am planning sounds hideous enough and hard sell to the wife so I want to keep the cost as low as possible.

My plan is to use 1.5" or 2" PVC for the supports. I will then wrap critter fencing with very small openings/holes around the entire base starting 6" below ground all the way to the top. I will cover the top with a relatively low light blocking shadecloth to allow a good amount of sun in at least until the vines have grown up the sides enough to give some shade to the babies.

I will spray paint the pvc, connectors, and fencing green (if I can't find fencing that I want already green) to help it blend into the background which is forest and junipers in the understory - yes, here they DO grow in shade.

I want to grow a variety of flowering vines both deciduous and evergreen to cover up the sides of the shelter and help beautify it. I have also considered putting the fencing on top to eventually allow the vines to cover that part and the structure could be used as a pergola. I am thinking since I will be planting vines around the perimeter, I should put some vertical guard below ground to keep the vine roots from entering any potential seedbed I create. I will probably use this as part seed bed/part container garden to grow seedlings in.

I am open for any and all opinions on anything - design critiques, native vine suggestions, calls to my therapists alerting them I need my meds adjusted for even considering this, etc.

Vines I am considering:

Bignonia capreolata
Lonicera sempervirens
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Perhaps some clematis hybrids

I am thinking I don't want something as aggressive as Campsis radicans.

Should I trench around the perimeter of the structure and pour concrete around the PVC supports and meshed fencing?

Would surrounding the enclosure in vines create a stagnant airmass inside the structure and lead to fungal problems on my seedlings?

I was thinking maybe setting up overhead sprinklers for irrigation because of the seedbed possibility.

I have looked up what I need and I think around $200 will cover everything.

This is a project I would like to get started this spring and at the latest, finished before seed sowing time this fall.

Edit: Assume the structure will reside in full sun for at least the next 5-10 years for vine selection. Ya know, espalier might also be fun to try on this project.

This post was edited by j0nd03 on Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 20:44

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Is the PVC going to be strong enough to hold up under the vines and possibly with snow load (I'm unsure how much snow your area has)?

Are you planning on getting some really good paint and primer that will stick to the PVC long enough to really protect the structure from sun damage until the vines cover it?

What good is the structure going to do once your vines grow over it and sunlight is blocked from inside?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would only let the vines grow over the top if I were going to use it as a pergola which would only happen if I did something else with the seedlings.

2" PVC should be able to handle the load without much trouble. I could be wrong, though. I could always take the top off during winter if needed. Also a center support could be added relatively easily.

I plan on going no primer and only spray paint. Probably whatever is cheapest that comes in the color I want. If it were going closer to the house, I would need to go the primer route.

This post was edited by j0nd03 on Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 10:09

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 8:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I'd be tempted to over-engineer it for load support. PVC tends to sag badly after a little time, and I'd think that even the 2" stuff would too. A saggy enclose would look even worse than an un-saggy one and would further entice your wife to chase you with a broom or refuse to let you sleep inside. LOL

PVC is also hard to get paint to stick to. If you clean it good to start with (get all the oil, from handling it, and dirt off), the right kind of paint might stick for a while. Once the paint comes off though, sunlight will start to degrade the PVC. I have seen UV protected PVC (it's called UVR-PVC), but it's not the common cheap stuff you find at your local big-box store. If you plan on keeping this thing for long and using regular PVC, I think you're probably going to have to paint it with something that will stick. You could also opt for schedule 80 and not worry as much about painting it or the UV protection. I don't know how schedule 80 would compare to UVR-PVC durability-wise or cost-wise, but it would definitely outlast plain schedule 40 and make for a stronger structure.

BTW, have you ever thought about shelling out the bucks for a nice-looking rat-proof greenhouse? It would have to look better and might be more useful. I bet your wife would love it as long as you let her use it too.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 10:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree, saggy is not an attractive quality here! hahaha

I did some research this morning and it appears pipe stiffness should not be greatly affected by UV exposure after two years which is what they considered long term. I'm still researching it all but it also appears the UVR-PVC main advantage is protecting the very outer layer of the PVC surface from UV damage thus preventing discoloration while maintaining its impact resistance. Since I would be spray painting the PVC (with a PVC compatible latex or acrylic paint from the info I read), discoloration and weakening of the PVC material isn't too big of a concern. Schedule 80 or the UVR might still be the way to go, though. I would have to see how much more they would add to the total cost.

Some reading here and here

I haven't found a greenhouse that allows protection from small critters all around the perimeter of the greenhouse that are not at least double what I want to spend on this project. Most are 3-5x as much! I would also have to purchase some trellis' and place them around the green house to get the vines to grow. The vines are actually as least as intriguing to me as the greenhouse itself and probably wouldn't look right next to a covered typical greenhouse.

Thanks for the brain stimulation! Talking it out always helps me. If I were in handy man construction school, I'd be around the 2-3rd grade lol

Is there another construction material I should be considering? I know this whole topic might be better suited for a different forum, but things like plant selection and air movement do concern me quite a bit with this project as well as any advice about the building itself like Brandon is providing is very helpful and appreciated.


This post was edited by j0nd03 on Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 10:10

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 9:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

That's correct about the UV exposure not causing sagging. The sagging it first, then, after enough exposure, the UV damage will occur. The UV damage, as you said, makes the exposed part brittle. In the case of schedule 40, that brittleness may be a significant factor in eventual mechanical failure (if the structure is stressed or hit). Paint (as long as it lasts) should take care of the UV damage.

Have you looked into how much a greenhouse frame (frame only) would cost?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 12:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

You know in addition to putting it on a concrete surface, you might consider running an electric fence around the bottom a couple of times.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 1:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have you considered galvanized pipe like chain link fencing material? It would be a lot more rigid requiring less pipe.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 1:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

edit: misread above post...ignore

This post was edited by brandon7 on Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 14:55

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 2:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good info/ideas to digest. I'll update after I do some research.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 1:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Electrical conduit (EMT) is pretty cheap and more rigid than PVC. It can be painted too.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 3:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Still researching but galvanized piping is looking like the big winner. Should come out about the same price wise, too.

Too bad I don't have access to abciximab's toys or I could custom build one heck of a greenhouse!! One of these days, you are going to have to throw up a couple pics of your masterpiece, Patrick ;-)

And when the @#$% did Newegg start selling pipe fittings???

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 5:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was ordering an OS disc the other day from newegg and saw conduits and wondered the same thing, when did they get into that line of products? lol

I was given three large pieces of pvc, 6 inches across I think and varying height (4 - 6 ft),they were the blue color and I painted with acrylic paints to make them look like verdigris copper (or as best I could), been outside for about 3 years now and paint still holding up, they are fairly shaded but they still look good if you decide to paint any, John.

I didn't want to make them into planters, more just architecture pieces but hub insisted, fortunately the wj died. lol

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 6:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Those must be some of that new-age art stuff. I can't really picture them as faux copper, but they would work great as left-over PVC that never made it to storage. ROFL

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey jon ...

man that is one dirty rat ....

anyway ... like any patio ... deck ... storage space project.. all i want to add.. is to double your dimensions ... at least in width and length.. or i will bet my shiny nickle that you will outgrow the space ASAP ...

if i read your picture properly ... your size is either ... 2 or 1.5 by 10 ....

riddle me this batman ... how do you reach into a 10 foot long space ????? wont you need to walk in there.. so wont you need.. at least a one foot path for your ballerina like toes ... [unless access will be along the 10 foot side.. but then you would be working on hinging pvc ....

and if you add the path.. wont you end up with one row of pots or trays on each side of the path .... in other words.. wont half you space be empty???? ...

unless you go with some benches.. etc ... go up the sides ...

i learned this when i was dreaming up a patio out the back door.. and figured that something like 10 foot square was reasonable ... then i decided to stake out such.. and added my Adirondack chairs and fire pit.. and soon found out.. that yes ... it would all fit on the said space.. but no one would be able to move around ... and all of a sudden decided 16 by 16 was the min. if i wanted a usable space ...

take all your stock into the lawn/driveay ... set it up in some configuration ... then add a walkway.. and then double the space.. and tell us what a reasonable size is.. for today.. and a few years down the line ... presuming. .that if you succeed ... you would want more space ...

but.. once you start enlarging it ... say to 5 by 10 feet.. then you are going to have to think about the increased spans.. and whether the pvc will bridge such ...

or its 650 in the morning.. and i missed the mark completely ...


    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 6:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL Brandon, I didn't have much copper paint left so blue/green had to be the star of that show. I keep forgetting that gardenweb blows up the pic, it was much tighter in the original.

Speaking of new age, a couple weeks ago we passed by a drainage system under construction, the piping color was mauve. Yikes.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 2:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ken, maybe I made a typo somewhere but the space is 10' x 9 or 10' and I think it would be relatively easy to add to the structure's length with a similar design as posted above. But I have been thinking about increasing the size from the start of the project, too. I too feel I will eventually want more room to work with. Maybe starting small and adding as I go would be the best option???

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 5:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

FWIW, I have painted many sprinkler risers with cheap black spray paint and it sticks very well, especially if you clean it first with rubbing alcohol, don't use detergent lest you leave a residue. Most of the time I don't go even that far, it seems to last as long as I don't bump and scratch it up. Then I touch it up with more cheap spray paint when needed.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 6:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

try laying out everything you have.. with a walk path.. and then make the decision ....

experience is better than theory.. every time ...

i was interpreting the chicken scratching on the drawing.. on the bottom right...

bat rasturd ...


    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 6:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

With some of the above comments, I got to wondering if my experience and what I had always been told about painting PVC was realistic. Well apparently so, cause here's just some of what the first page of a Google seach turns up:

"...PVC doesnâÂÂt take paint all that well, and the paint is prone to flake..."

"Many attempts in the past to paint PVC resulted in failure, or a pretty short-lived paint job."

"PVC is difficult to paint because of its molecular makeup: it basically provides no rough surface to adhere to. If you try to paint PVC with standard paints, you end up with a layer of paint that is flaking, peeling, or bubbling, and often just wonâÂÂt stick."

"PVC pipe is notoriously difficult to paint using standard paints..."

"So I have several pieces of large PVC pipe that I have spray painted with primer, but a day later it not really sticking, its on there but whatever the pipe touches takes paint off, any suggestions?"

Looks like just spraying on some cheap paint and walking away isn't working for most people!

A thorough cleaning with some type of zero residue cleaner (some cleaners, including some alcohol leaves residue) should help. Sanding with very fine-grained sandpaper apparently can help. Using the correct type of paint definitely helps. I'm sure there's many ways to successfully paint PVC, but there are also some that are far less likely to be successful in the long run.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 7:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Sorry, it's been working for me for a long time, maybe they did not clean it. I've been doing it for years. And sorry alcohol does not leave residue- it's is alcohol and water. Check out below 'cause I can do what you can do.
You're just being a typical snitty internet expert- aka a troll.
Look it up Socrates.

A primer is only needed if you want the paint manufacturerâÂÂs warranty. Excellent adhesion can be achieved by properly cleaning the board before applying a topcoat of paint to PVC trim.

I know a neighbor painted sch 40 with JD green from John Deere. Been on over a year and no peeling so far. But I know you want black or red tho.

It holds paint well because water can't penetrate the material behind the paint.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 11:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Fairfield8619, maybe you should read a little more carefully! First, I have seen (many times) PVC with paint not sticking. Secondly, it's an extremely common experience, which should be obvious with even the most brief inquiry. Thirds, I was the one that first recommended cleaning the PVC before painting here in this very thread! Geesh!

Next, rubbing alcohol frequently leaves residue! That also can be well proven by numerous hits with just a brief search. Hundreds of people didn't suddenly decide to come up with some kind of conspiracy! The residue is likely from additives often used in the commonly available stuff you buy for medical use. If you want to get technical, pure ethyl or isopropyl alcohol wouldn't leave a residue, but that's not what the average person would be dealing with!

As the old saying goes, you're welcome to your own opinion but not your own facts.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 1:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

BTW, I did not claim that the residue resulting from using alcohol would prevent paint from sticking. I don't know if it would or not. However, I would personally definitely try to remove any that remained before painting, to be on the safe side. Also, I think other types of cleaners might be more effective, but, as I said before, I'm sure there's many ways to do it.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 1:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not to continue the debate ;) but I just gave mine a light sandpapering, paint still there with no failures after a couple years in the elements where it gets very hot and humid (and down to 20 occasionally, like last week). I wouldn't use latex paint, too rubbery, just plain old acrylic in thin coats. It was a fun project and I like the color next to Christine (the big water fountain-turned planter that's mostly covered with jasmine now and has the wandering jew in her bowl instead of on the pvc stalks).

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 1:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Oh my goodness, you need to prevail I see, here is my last attempt, feel free to carry on at will, and of course your opinion is subject to the same parameter as mine. Of course you probably think different since you are the "Garden Web Expert". There's plenty on here and nobody really knows who they are.

This leaves Freon TF and Isopropyl Alcohol. Both materials clean well.
Freon TF evaporates much faster than isopropyl alcohol. The problem with
rapid evaporation is that it leaves residues behind before the cloth or
swab can collect them. This is easily remedied by multiple cleaning
cycles. The slower evaporation rate of isopropyl alcohol gives the
advantage that it (and the dissolved tape residue) is more easily
collected by the cleaning cloth or swab.

Thus my favorite general tape residue solvent is isopropyl alcohol. I
always use the azeotropic concentration of 91% alcohol for several
reasons. It is 91% alcohol and 9% water. The water and alcohol evaporate
at the same rate from the azeotrope leaving behind nothing. If one uses
concentrations below the azeotrope the faster evaporation of the alcohol
leaves the slower evaporating water behind.

So how can you find good 91% isopropyl alcohol. I buy 91% isopropyl
alcohol from Walgreens and Eckerd drugstores. It is sold for it's
topical antimicrobal properties - mostly for injections. I always read
the label to see that it is just alcohol (and 9% water). I always test
it by placing a sample on a clean cotton swab and smearing it on a clean
mirror. If it leaves no residue upon evaporation it's OK to use for tape
path cleaning. If you want to see what a residue looks like just dip
your finger in the alcohol and smear that on the mirror.

Anyway - that's what I do and it works well. I have the other materials
on hand and would consider using them if the alcohol didn't remove the
tape residue, but I've never run into that situation.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 4:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You get so offended so easily. You're pretty much a complainer to my assumption. Relax! Brandon has contributed to these boards more than you ever could dream about. Look what you're complaining about.......calm down.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 7:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

It's not about "prevailing", but rather about passing on accurate information that may be useful, rather than anecdotal reports that may not even be the norm. In the cases of the problems with paint not sticking to PVC and rubbing alcohol sometimes leaving residue, numerous reports of such combined with actual photographic evidence would seem to confirm the importance of taking the factors into consideration.

I do learn a lot by reading people's input, but I really don't get anything out of posting information on here except a feeling that I may have helped someone. Certainly, I try not to become so emotionally involved that I feel the necessity to call people names (I noticed this wasn't the first time you've called someone Socrates).

From what I read, the alcohol listed on the label of all rubbing alcohols, in the US, is not "absolute" alcohol, it must be denatured and meet the US Dept of ATF's formula 23-H. Apparently, someone came up with the idea to drink the stuff and that wasn't good.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 7:11PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Control Freak
On my way into B'more this morning I saw these Edgeworthia...
Would windex overspray hurt dormant oak or metasequoia?
Was cleaning the windows outside with Windex today....
Trees for wet heavy clay soil?
Trees for wet heavy clay soil? The soil is sort of...
Vulcan Magnolia
Just purchased a 4.5 inch "Vulcan"
American elms seeds wanted
When we were discussing pruning the damaged elm, I...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™