GARDEN

Fence Ideas For A Vegetable Garden

A potential and probable problem for nearly any vegetable garden is that of keeping animals out. After all the hard work, labor, and TLC that goes into one’s vegetable garden, all it takes is for one or two hungry rabbits or deer to ‘clean you out’.

With all the various critters who would like nothing more than to eat up your vegetable garden, a fence is a very good defense.

The question for you is this: What has been your experience with fencing a vegetable garden? What has worked and has not worked?

I’m about to embark on a fence project this Spring and will be fencing in an area which will contain a number of 4×8 raised garden beds. I will be building it myself, and will probably opt for a sort of wood fence with chicken wire, rather than a chain link fence (just my preference). There are a number of ways to go about it, and I’m looking around the internet at pictures and ideas as well as the experiences from others who have adapted a fence for their own vegetable garden.

There are concerns such as adequate height (with or without a deer problem), the various methods of deterring deer from jumping over, various types of wire and designs, things to watch out for – or “don’t forget to do this or that!”, etc..

I figured that I would ask the audience for their own experiences – which may also help others who happen across this post over time…

Here are a few random pictures of fences around vegetable gardens that I extracted from the web. There are zillions more (all which make for great ideas).

fence-for-vegetable-garden

What’s your opinion about vegetable garden fences?

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62 Comments

  1. I have used in the past;

    Chain-link; Expensive, usually not high enough (4’), A PITA to install, Rabbits get through it with ease, Too hard to get the growing vines off. The gates are usually not “tight” so critters can pass along them with ease.

    Goat fence/panels; Too flimsy, you must have a “frame” for it, the Wire is cheap but the frame can really up the cost, Again rabbits pass right through it.

    Portable Horse panels; wayyyyy to big and bulky, very strong though, will keep even cows out, again same problems as with the first few.

    Chicken wire; Way to light, even with those showed, you’ll not keep out fair sized critters and a deer will destroy it in seconds.

    “Stucco” wire; a lot better than Chicken Wire, just like chicken wire it will require a stout frame, Cheep, will keep rabbits/raccoons/skunks out if built correctly.

    My favorite is “Hog” Wire, the 2”X4” stuff, as pictured in a cpl of your photos. Although critters can squeeze through I would run a 2’ high run of stucco wire along the bottom and into the dirt 4-6″ The frame work can get to be expensive, but it’s a one-time thing. I would also, if you have deer, run the hog wire at least 5’ high and a cpl/3 of high tension strands up to 8’. Your photo left side, 4th down. Don’t use barb wire; it’s too hard to keep tight.

    Again I would not use Chicken Wire, too light and too hard to keep tight. Heck even a fair sized dog can destroy it in seconds.

    NRP; AKA “Grumpy Old Gardener”

  2. I’d like to ask for some gardening advice out there.. I live in an area where the temperature gets very hot, (100-110) during the summer, live on clay soil and as you can imagine, have a heck of a time getting any kind of a crop.

    I’ve done some raised beds and positioned them where there’s shade in the late afternoon but only was only able to get one yield when I lucked out on a tame summer.

    I’m thinking of moving these beds to the north side of the house with even more shade but am starting to think in this climate its not meant to be. Am only trying to grow tomatoes and peppers at this point. Would appreciate any advice.

    1. @Sliver
      I believe that tomatoes loveeeee the heck out of hot weather, as do peppers, I grow them right in the HOT New Mexico sun, 100+ at times also. Now I’m no expert on gardening, but I would suggest it may be something other than the sun. Watering tomatoes in the heat of the day is a big no no, also over watering them will kill them off quickly, and never water the leaves of a tomato plant, always ground water them. Peppers are about the same way. In NM they grow tons and tons of peppers down south at the Mexico border. gets really hot there. One last thing, do not use to “rich” of soil, as in pure compost or Miracle Grow the extra “rich” soil will literally burn the plants.

    2. With the clay you are going to want better soil. Use lots of compost, etc to improve over time. If you have access to a good tiller you can ‘amend’ the soil. Rear tine and vehicle mounted tillers are a lot easier on the operator. In the old days horses and oxen were used as vehicles.

      Raised bed sand containers can be used to dramatically reduce the number of weeds. Both make using a tiller a *lot* more, er, exciting.

      You can use large tarps and the like to moderate the amount of sun light. If you’re well heeled you could use a greenhouse for climate control.

      Find out what ‘hardiness zone’ you live in. You can then search for things that grow well under your conditions.

    3. “I’ve done some raised beds….” That right there is your problem. I live in a cool, wet area, and the point of using raising beds is to make them warmer and drier, so that works great in my area. In your hot, dry climate, you want to SINK your beds so they are cooler and wetter. Still dig them deep and amend them like raised beds, but have the top of them below ground level.

      1. I live in Ohio…use raised beds in the back yard. They are easy to prepare and plant but BOY do they dry out fast!!! We had a cool,(at least cooler by Ohio standards)and wet summer…nothing did very well except the green beans.

        1. My main problem is the dog. She really likes a little “salad” as she roams around the yard.

  3. I live in deer country and have found a second one strand wire high enough for the deer to see and they will not jump over the first fence. It needs to be two to three feet from your main fence. This has worked for us. It is good if you can put an extension on the post to attach the second wire. The reason being the deer can not jump both fences.

  4. re the deer, in my experience, even a badly injured deer can easily jump a six foot fence. (had this happen, finally left the gate open…had one tree he wanted the needles off of)

    the best thing with deer, is to get it “settled” right off, that this is not something they are interested in…Hard to do, for sure. Over the years have heard/read a million suggestions, none working for long. Since you are building something, if you can put in/up something which seems like a roof, I think that might work. I don’t mean an actual roof (with all the construction/snow load problems)..but..
    something which might make the deer think it is a roof…???

    1. I have heard but not tried that bubble wrap on the ground works well for deer. They step on it and it pops so they run.

  5. oh, also, have talked with quite a lot of folks who, did this, to keep gophers/mice/such critters from digging under their garden (boxes) and out.

    if you are going to have a flat bottom, take some heavy duty (so it doesn’t have to be replaced) diamond shaped sort of grating (there is a name for this, but can’t recall), put it on the bottom. stuff can drain out/worms can get in..but it puts paid to digging critters…

  6. another thing I have seen, is mark out the sides of your garden box, and dig down a couple feet at least. Next alternate with layers of all the scrap bits of wood you find on your property (if you are in the country, likely not a shortage), with layers of dirt. Top with layer of dirt. As the wood degrades it adds value to the soil, and plants will germinate grow better. Part of the growing better is because of increased soil quality as the wood decays, part also is it warms the soil a bit as it is decaying. and , roots usually like it a bit warmer.

  7. First thing you need to decide for fencing is what you are fencing out (or fencing in). Deer can jump very wide or very high, but not both. A 4′ fence is adequate IF they can see there is no room for them to land on the other side. Groundhogs can dig; you’ll want to extend the fence down a foot and out a foot underground to discourage them. Raccoons can climb just about any tight fencing; what frustrates them is loose fencing at the top that doesn’t hold their weight. Rabbits can squeeze through tight spaces, so you need to mind the gaps.

    1. gave a lot of thought to what you said, about wide or high, but not both, and went looking for examples.

      (makes sense)

      found a nice one here

      Pacific Horticulture Defending Dinner

      and it gives the added advantage of lots of trellis space for tying stuff up.

  8. To keep deer away I put dog poo on the outside perimeter, and dog urine for fertilizer. It is 150 feet from my house. I have a stick fence around it like a corral so I don’t back into it with my truck. No wires. I am in deer and bear country but they have always stayed away from my garden. Doesn’t mean they won’t ramble in front of my picture window.

    1. You can purchase urine crystals on line to sprinkle around your garden. I use fox urine to keep the skunks away. Be careful which one you buy though. I also live in bear and lion country. You would think lion urine would scare away deer and it will. It will also attract other lions to either mate or fight. The last thing I would want is to wander out in the back one night and run into a 90 pound cat LOL

      1. I live in Cat Country. Several years ago, in the morning, snow covered ground and I walked under my tall evergreens on the way to the Greenhouse. There were no tracks in the snow. An hour later, on my way back to the house I could see large Cat Tracks under one of the tall evergreens I had walked under. The Cat jumped out of the tree after I passed under it. True Story.

        1. Slmacarty,,,,25+ years ago I had a pet cougar that lived in the travel trailer with me i raised her from a week old kitten ,i have nothing but good to say from the experience,, was one hard day when I gave her up ,,

          I still miss,,,,,miss kitty ,,

    2. You will harm your family or anyone that eats from your Garden if you use Dog or Cat Feces. I use aged and composted chicken manure, composted in large plastic garbage containers. It is high in nitrogen, enriches the soil and is super good for your vegetables. Not for Strawberries.

  9. My problem is squirrels. They can crawl right through chicken wire. I need something with smaller holes. They can also jump.

    Deer can jump over a 6′ fence. Many years ago, my neighbor had a 6′ high fence around her old dog run (her dog had died) and the run became overgrown. A deer had a baby in that dog run. Every day she would jump over the fence to feed her fawn, then leave again. Then one day, when the fawn was still quite small, she decided it was time for the fawn to leave the dog run. She fed him just a little and then jumped over the fence. The little deer tried and tried to jump, but couldn’t get over the fence. The mama deer tried again fed him just a little and then showed him how to jump. After about 4 tries, that tiny deer managed to jump over the 6′ fence. We never saw them again. Morale: even a baby deer can jump over a tall fence.

  10. I have two raised beds. I have a rabbit family that has been here as long as we have. They make their beds??under the shed.
    I had no problem with them eating my garden plants or produce.
    Maybe it was the marigolds.
    I had concrete blocks around my gardens and planted marigolds in the holes!

    Another trick I have read is spray (or dust) Diatomaceous Earth around the garden perimeter.
    DE is cheap at Tractor Supply.

    I will say I don’t have the usual spring invasion of ants any longer….each spring(like now), I just sprinkle every doorway (like under the fl with the dust and leave it

  11. Sorry–computer misbehaving!

    I will say I don’t have the usual spring invasion of ants any longer….each spring(like now), I just sprinkle every doorway (like under the floor mats) with the dust and leave it over night and then use my hand vacuum to get it off the floor.

    I also don’t have the spiders invasions I had before using DE.

    I don’t like spraying chemicals in my house so DE works great in my kitchen too.

  12. Have read that a bar or two of deodorant soap like Irish Spring placed in the garden keeps the deer away. Is anyone familiar with foodrising.org mini-farms? May be more helpful for indoor gardening.

  13. I can’t really speak to deer problems but I have raised beds and a mole / vole problem. I lined the bottom of all my raised beds with “hardware cloth” 1/4 to 1/2 inch square metal wire. It is an investment, but no moles have ruined my veggies yet. My neighbor has a cat who is the great mole hunter and I love that cat! We also have a rabbit and squirrel issue. Plastic type hardware cloth (1″ square fencing) keeps out the rabbits but, I haven’t figured out how to beat the squirrels. Help!

    1. Beach’n
      Since I am not sure which type of squirrel you are referring to, there is an article in the Countryside magazine around 2012-13(I believe). They used septic tank pvc tubing creating a feeding zone for the squirrels, in which the placed oats with plaster of Paris in the mixture. The squirrels ate the mixture an required a drink of water, as we know plaster of Paris hardens when water is applied. Hence the squirrel becomes a lawn ornament, just make sure to remove them before the cats or dogs find them to munch a bunch.
      The article will be to locate, take a look an see if this will work for you.

      1. Really. No need to promote killing the squirrels in such a wasteful manner and painful manner . Now if someone was to hunt for food that would be one thing, but just to kill for a garden . Not right and not very helpful.

  14. We put a perimeter fence around our garden. Used chicken wire to keep the smallish animals out. Dug down 2′ or so and sunk some wire mesh in the ground to keep the moles/voles out of the garden. They were eating our potatoes one year. On top of all that we have three wire strands connected to a 25 mile solar electric fencer. We have no problems with anything. Plus the cats keep the mice/moles/voles/and rabbits down. We have so many deer here that they practically look in the house.

  15. re the squirrels…

    only thing I have seen work with them, is to trap them and rehome them.
    Far away, so they do not find their way back.

    if you let those suckers multiply they will soon be chewing threw the wood into attic spaces, setting up home. They are seriously tenacious. Rehome.

    1. By ‘rehome’ do you mean ‘shoot’? If not, you’re just moving your problem to somewhere that someone else has to deal with it.

    2. Actually, where I live it’s illegal to re home. You can either turn them over to animal control or kill them in the trap (somehow). And I think you have to prove they were destroying property, like chewing through your house, etc.

      I’ve tried tying old foil pie pans around the garden, foil streamers, etc. Nothing works except fencing (1 inch square openings) all the way around and on the tops of the garden spaces. My fig tree is completely surrounded by plastic hardware cloth type fencing. It’s ugly, but it worked.

      I did get a suggestion to feed them away from the garden. Get them used to finding food somewhere else. Guess I’ll be the crazy old person feeding the squirrels this year!

      1. A .22 works well, or even a good pellet rifle. I “rehome” raccoons that way, chickens are more expensive than .22 ammo right now.

  16. okay, you all can laugh, but it worked totally for us….

    when you see the deer outside, talk to them. Either from inside house, or door step (do not go up to them). Tell them they are welcome to visit/eat grass, but shake your finger and tell them to “leave my stuff alone”.

    Worked for us. Maybe it was a territorial thing?

      1. You’re making your presence known without becoming either a threat or competition. For some animals this might work, and for others it might be a challenge. :)

        1. The deer know very well that they’re in a place where they’re not welcome, doing something they shouldn’t be doing. You stand out there and let them see you, talk to them, it’s very much like a parent standing there with their arms folded while a child does something they’ve been told not to. Parent speaks. Child realizes the parent is there, and generally stops. Sometimes it makes enough of an impression to stop the behavior entirely.

          1. Lauren…

            yes, that would seem to be so, in our case..

            it is rather amazing….

            I do the same with the rabbits (much cursed by the neighbors),
            and am still stunned to find they eat almost exclusively only weeds in my yard. (they will eat a little bird seed that falls, but other than that…weeds). so much so, back when we first got rabbits and my son was young, he planted a carrot patch, and lettuce patch back at the end of our property, just for the rabbits, and they would not touch it. Still ate only weeds.

          2. I didn’t mean that we actually “got rabbits”..
            I meant when rabbits first came to our yard.

    1. I love this idea. Not messed up at all. While discussing it all you can always be planning out your fence.

  17. Ken, you likely have lots of room,
    if you gets yourself some Heritage Seeds, and have a few separate areas, what worked for me, might also work for you.

    About four years back I bought Heritage seeds for lettuce, onions and chives. Every year I leave a few in each patch to go on to seed themselves. They automatically re seed, and I get a fresh crop of each.

    I have separate smallish garden boxes for each, as once they are well established, they frankly spread like weeds.

    If you have tons of room, you could set up quite a nice sized area for each, and leave a fair amount of space around each box. (at least couple feet, four would be better).

    1. @Anon
      Are you talking Heirloom Seeds? If so I agree with you 10,000% I have some I have kept for 5-6 years some even my father was using many years ago. the ONLY way to go.

      1. squirrels those critters are tenacious buggers. I try and try and nothing works. I am not allowed to shoot them but dam would I like to. Can any one suggest Anything please. I have heard that coyote urine works but where can I find this. As anyone had any luck with cayenne pepper do the squirrel repellents really work?
        what about a sound repellent
        I used to think they were cute tell they took over.
        Fencing suggestions?
        Any help would be appreciated
        thanks in advance
        Save the tomatoes and every thing else
        cheers

  18. Perfect timing on the post for myself!! Wife and I are about to fence a few sections of garden off and we are needing different fences for each area so… This is great!!

  19. I found this online, regarding a deer fence – which speaks towards adding an additional wire perimeter which extends outward from the main fence – presumably deer won’t jump it if they detect what they think are ‘two’ fences which are separated by several feet:

    I have to share my super-successful deer exclusion fence design here.

    We have a permanent 4′ high perimeter fence of welded wire with wooden rails, which of course deer can jump.

    So we added a 4′ length of 2×2 to each post. The 2×2 is hooked at the base of each post (with a hook and eye) allowing the top of the 2×2 to splay outward, where we ran a line of 22-gauge galvanized wire.

    This design piggybacks on the idea of a 3-D fence but has the advantage of not creating a weird un-mowable margin between the fences.

    And, of course, the added expense for the 2x2s and wire is only about $75. Hope this helps someone; we’ve had great luck keeping deer out this way.

    1. Have a neighbor that has a 5 acre vineyard, that’s exactly what he has done with his 6′ high fencing, it works whereas the 6′ fence by itself did not.

      1. Regarding your neighbor’s fence, do you know how ‘high up’ is the secondary perimeter wire? I’ve seen some which are several feet higher above the main fence (although basically on the same plane as the main fence) and others which are simply ‘about’ the same height as the main fence only extended out by several feet (which is what I believe the person basically did in the aforementioned comment – apparently called a 3-D fence?)

        1. His is a 6′ fence with an additional 2′ higher post (on the same plane), he has 2 wires at 1′ each. Total 8′. He did not want the fence “sticking out”
          I have watched deer approach it, that don’t even try. whereas a 6′ fence alone is like a cake walk. On another note, the “pee” really works for my garden for almost all critters, It may sound crude, but the more beer the better if you catch my drift :-/

  20. Our experience is a good dog will keep a lot of critters at bay. Not for everyone though & not every dog.

  21. I have heard but never tried that if you run a a electrified wire around your garden about 4′ or so and wrap aluminum foil around it every few feet then put peanut butter on it the deer will go to the peanut butter first get shocked and never come back again. Don’t know if it will work or not. Anyone have any success with it or thoughts?

    My brother in law has a lot of deer on his property in TN and planted a garden and had no problems. He fenced it in and also planted some veggies outside of the garden for the deer to eat and did not have any deer or rodents, etc get to his garden. He also has a corn feeder (when not hunting season) going not too far from the garden. Not sure which idea worked the best. But the veggies planted outside the fenced garden got eaten but nothing inside. His fence was only about 4 or 5′ and nothing real fancy.

  22. I use Irish Spring around our yard and the gardens and the deer go around all of it….won’t even come in the yard. And the best defense against squirrels is an air rifle.

  23. I read a book one time about a guy named Sylvan Hart, a mountain man in Idaho or Montana and he had a problem with deer. He built a kinda stockade with poles of many different heights and he said they quit trying to jump the fence. Seems like maybe they don’t have good spatial relations or depth perception or something. I tie flagging ribbon of varying length and heights to my “deer fence” plus all the other stuff. It all helps I guess because the road rats do not get into my garden.

  24. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions regarding a garden fence.

    Although this article has dropped off since its post date – if you happen across this by way of an internet-search or browsing this site, we hope you will contribute your own experience, opinion, materials suggestions, etc.., for the benefit of others who read this later on… ;)

  25. I found the 7th example very interesting, yet very vast in scale. Maybe use the 7th example in a more boxed in yard with about 8 vegetable beds.

    The reason why I suggested the 7th example, for animals, is because if the SHTF, there are going to be more then animals to protect you valuable resource from.

    Example 7, has both low lying wire as well as barbed wire up top to keep out the hordes and even though they can always hitch a chain to a car and pull it down.

  26. You can add pvc hoops over the top & put a net over to keep birds out. It may also discourage deer from jumping in. I would also dig down at least a foot below ground level and add extra chicken wire to help discourage any burrowing animal from gaining entrance.

  27. Deer can jump high and deer can jump far, but they can not do both at the same time. They also like a clear path to land in. We can have up to 15 deer in our outer yard each evening in MI. yet they stayed out of my veggie garden all last year. My garden fence is less than 6 feet from yard fence, I have raised beds 2 feet from fence and about 2 feet apart. I also don’t have all the beds going the same way, no central path through the middle of the garden, you have to zig zag through it, my garden is 30 x30′ my fence is only 4 feet tall, I am raising it because last year we used t posts and this year I am making it fancier and permanent we will be using left over pasture fencing for the top with smaller gauge at the bottom to keep out rabbits. This Old house mag had a similar look this Aprils issue that I am going for.

  28. I’m trying to get a garden going, but I live in the middle of the woods. I have an array of animals that would love to destroy my garden (like deer, rabbits, Bobcats, raccoons, etc.) I’m at a loss on how to fence in my garden! I know I’ll need a certain type of wire to keep out the rabbits, then a different kind for the deer, and then again for the raccoons. If anyone has any advice please share!!

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