A vegetable garden fence is a great way to protect your harvest from squirrels, rabbits, and birds who love to eat the things you plant. The type and size of predators you need to keep out will depend on your geographical region, as well as what you are growing, and the size of the animals you're trying to deter will affect the type of fence you should build.
1. Movable Fencing
Modular fences can be moved around easily, making them handy for trying things out before you commit to a permanent structure. Some garden centers, hardware stores, and online vendors have kits that are easily snapped in place in under an hour.
However, their convenience will cost you - one 8' x 7' modular fence with wire panels goes for approximately $200 at the time of this writing. Building your own with wire and wood will be the most cost-effective approach.
2. Chicken Wire or Rectangle Mesh
This is the most effective barrier to prevent a wide array of animals, but keep in mind it won’t keep out the smallest ones, like mice, songbirds, and insects. It will deter the majority of medium-sized pests like squirrels and rabbits, though, along with larger birds like turkeys and pheasants.
A temporary, movable chicken wire fence will be inexpensive and easy to build, just make sure you use heavy gauge welded fencing for strength and durability.
The best way to build a modular garden fence with chicken wire is to do so in panels. Always use pressure treated wood, cedar, or any variety that can withstand the outdoor weather.
You can use bamboo canes as posts or standard 4x4s if you prefer. Use galvanized nails, staples, and chicken wire, as this kind of metal won’t rust out quickly, ensuring long-lasting results. Here's how:
Step 1 - Make the Panel Frame
Nail the 6’ pieces of wood to the 1’ x 10” pieces to make a rectangle. The third 1’ x 10” piece will be nailed at the half-way point. The finished frame should be 6’ x 2’. Set yourself up for success on this step by drawing a picture of the frame first to plan your approach.
Step 2 - Staple the Chicken Wire
Lay the frame on a level surface and place the chicken wire on top where it will face out. Staple it to the frame every three inches, making sure it overlaps the wood pieces all the way around.
This will ensure animals will not be able to pry it off easily, and that the wire stays tightly in place. This is an essential step, so make sure you take the time to really secure the wire. The fence will be useless if animals can claw right through.
Step 3 – Fix the Hooks and Eyes
Turn the frame over. At the top right-hand corner, screw one of the hooks three inches from the top of the part that faces out. Screw in the second hook six inches from the bottom.
At the top left-hand corner, three inches from the top, screw in an eye. Screw in the second eye six inches from the bottom. The eyes and hooks will match up, securing the panels to each other.
Step 4 - Make More Panels
To determine the number of panels you need to make, measure the length of the perimeter of your garden, or however long you want the fence to be. Then divide that total number of feet by six - this is the number of panels you will need to make.
Tip: Round the perimeter total up to multiples of six to make your calculations easier!
Example: A 17-foot fence will require three panels, since it rounds up to 18. This will leave you with a bit of extra fencing, so if you'd rather be more precise, round down and then make the last (shortest) panel once you've assembled the others.
Step 5 - Set the First Panel in Place
To achieve a straight fence, set a line using string wrapped around two stakes (one at each end) to mark the boundary. Hammer two bamboo canes about five feet apart and one to two feet into the ground along the boundary line.
Place the fence panel up against the canes on the outside of the line, then hammer the third bamboo cane into the ground tight against the panel on the inside. The panel will be held up by the three canes.
Again, you can use 4’ x 4’ posts instead of canes. They'll create a more permanent structure, but they will require digging holes, and possibly pouring concrete.
Step 6 - Set Subsequent Panels in Place
Subsequent panels are placed in exactly the same way, and will be connected to the previous panels by attaching the hooks and eyes. For access to the garden, simply unhook one of the panels and lift it out. You could also build a gate that swings open by attaching hinges to one of the panels and adding a simple handle.
Nothing is more frustrating than waking up one day to see the fruits of your garden labor have been eaten by unwanted guests. Building your own garden fence can be done in a weekend, or even less, depending on your DIY skills. The time it takes to assemble will be well worth the produce you save from animals who want to eat what you’ve worked hard to grow.