I am providing lighting and power for a pergola. A PVC conduit comes out of the ground about 18" from one of the posts, so I need to bridge that small gap.
NEC table 300.5 covers burial depth, and for RMC* I can get by with only 6" of burial depth. However, meeting 6" will be a challenge, as just the 90 degree bends and connections would make that difficult. However, what if I put the conduit at ground level? Put it above ground but just hide it with some stones or mulch? It's in a tight space where no one is going to be walking except to do maintenance, so it won't present any sort of significant trip hazard, and it's not like anyone is going to forget where the power is coming from. From my research, I get very inconsistent answers, some saying "never" and others saying 300.5 only applies if you intend to actually bury it in the first place.
Pulling wires through the PVC conduit is going to be painful, and I'm basically at the degree limit for that, so I need a conduit body or pull point to make a 90 transition to the wood post. Similarly, is having a conduit body buried only by an inch or two of mulch, that can be brushed aside by hand, a violation of the requirement that conduit bodies and junction boxes be readily accessible?
Are there any other options for this I haven't considered?
I suspect, based on my interactions with the electrical inspector in the past on other projects, that I have a 95% chance he would let it slide on the burial depth issue if I used RMC here, but if I can solve this in a completely compliant manner without a huge amount of work I'd prefer to do that. Before giving me the lecture on the codes, consider that I could just put a box on the PVC and anchor it to something right there, then run an extension/power cord from there up into the pergola, with a trip/rodent hazard. That would be complaint, but I'd argue that is objectively less safe than a less than 6" burial depth RMC connection and the box on the pergola post, in this particular situation.
The two places are only 18" apart as pictured.