Flower Beds with Corrugated Metal

Well, you already know how I can’t just focus on one project at a time. But this time it isn’t my fault, I promise! So what is this project deviation? The flower beds!

Obviously, the bar isn’t done yet. But once the concrete was poured, the rest of the countertops was a one-man job. I did the front end of it, and the hubby finished it off. He needs everything to be as perfect as possible, where I am more of a “looks good from here” kinda gal. And they are beautiful, if I do say so myself. And we couldn’t really start on anything else for the bar until the countertops were done (p.s., we are on hold with the bar until we get more materials).

And yes, our next project is the lawn (come on perfect weather, last at least a few more weeks), but I can’t really start that on my own. To be honest, I’m not even sure what the tool is called that can scrape off a layer of dirt. But that also brings me to my next point. We figure all of the extra dirt that we will be clearing off the lawn – we are hoping to get it down by a couple of inches – can be used in the flower beds around the patio. So if we have the flower beds done before we started removing the dirt, we could just dump it immediately in there, instead of dumping it to the side and then moving it into the flower beds later. See, so it’s really not too much of a side step!

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The original inspiration

Alright, back to the point of this post. Originally, I wanted to have the flower beds made out of a wood and corrugated metal combo. I kept coming back to Blueberry Hill Crafting’s post as my inspiration (above) because I loved all of the wood! But the more I thought about it, I realized that to make them sturdy, I would need to use 4x4s as the corner posts. And we only have about 2 feet to work with. This would make the actual flower beds only about 1’6″ wide, with a pretty good sized gap between both the lower patio to the flower bed edge and the upper patio. I got back to trying to find some more streamlined options, but keeping the same wood/metal combo. I found Becca’s idea and knew it was a better option for us.

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The engineer in me knew that having the corrugated metal going vertical instead of horizontal definitely helps keep it sturdy and strong. But the aesthetic part in me really liked the horizontal look better. So to help add some strength to the sides, I decided to use thick steel angles instead of flashing, and then my dad and I set them in concrete about a foot and a half into the ground. We also added flat steel bars along the longer spans to keep the corrugated metal from buckling.  I had measured the lengths I needed before I went to buy the steel, and I just had the steel place make all of my cuts for me (Blue Collar Supply for you locals). For $0.50 each cut, it was definitely worth it. But we did end up cutting a few of them even shorter. It was pretty simple using a grinder with a steel cutting blade, but beware of all of the sparks. By driving the corners into the ground, I took out the need to add a back side to each flower bed. Concrete doesn’t rot, so it’s fine to have the dirt right against the upper patio.

Once everything was cut, I spray painted them. One, for looks. And two, to protect them from rusting. I do like the look of rust sometimes, but just not here 🙂

Quick tip: instead of getting out the concrete mixer, or even just the wheelbarrow, we just mixed the concrete straight in the holes. We filled the holes with about 4 inches of water, added in the cement mix, and slushed it around. We just added more water and cement as we went, until the concrete was spilling over the top. So much cleaner and easier! And very little clean-up!

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The corrugated metal comes in sheets that are 2 feet wide, but we only needed sheets that were like 13 inches. My dad used his table saw at home to get everything cut. We could have tried to use mine, but since a decent amount of my table saw is plastic and his is 100% metal, we decided to be safe. He just swapped out his standard blade with a steel cutting blade and cut away! The edges came out pretty smooth, but you could definitely tell which side was the cut side.

We predrilled all of the holes in the steel angles before we set them in, and then we lined up the corrugated metal to predrill those. We just attached them with stainless steel screws (no rusting!) from the outside, so the inside definitely has a bunch of screws jabbing through. Luckily they will all be filled with dirt.

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Once we had all the metal components done, we added in some 2x4s along the top to give it an edge. And to protect hands, feet, everything, from sharp edges. Not sure if you can tell from the photos, but the corrugated metal is about 1/2 -inch shorter than the steel angles. We notched the 2x4s at each angle location so that the wood could basically slip in to the steel. Then, we just screwed some exterior wood screws through the wood joints to keep it nice and strong. To secure the wood even more, we attached a couple of small angles to the inside of the concrete (where possible) and the wood framing. This way, the wood wouldn’t be able to rise up at all.

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We also added some 2x2s along the bottom to frame it out. We screwed these in from the back so that you don’t actually see any screw heads. Pretty nifty, huh? Oh! We also made sure to create a cut-out for the drainage/vent coming out of the fire pit. Definitely don’t want to plug that up.

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And with that, the flower beds are ready to go!

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