Protect Your Backyard Harvest With a Vegetable Garden Fence
It’s no secret that we are big fans of gardening. And that’s because there are so many benefits to gardening as a hobby! From a tiny indoor herb garden in a city apartment to a lush backyard vegetable paradise in the suburbs or out in the country, we truly believe that gardening can be for everyone! However, if you are lucky enough to have one of those lush backyard vegetable paradises, we will not be the only fans it has. Unfortunately, there are plenty of cute critters out there who will look just as fondly at all those hard-earned veggies in your backyard and help themselves. This is why it’s so important to protect your backyard harvest with a vegetable garden fence.
No offense (pun intended!) to the critters, but no amount of cuteness can make up for how much havoc they can wreak on your vegetable garden. Nothing is more devastating than putting all that effort into planning your garden and cultivating your plants, only to walk outside one morning and find them all uprooted and chomped to bits by unwanted foragers.
If your backyard garden is currently being plagued by critters, or if you’ve just started a garden and want to keep it protected as it grows, keep reading as we answer some common questions gardeners have about vegetable garden fences.
- What kinds of critters do I need to watch out for?
- How high should my vegetable garden fence be?
- What materials can I use to build a vegetable garden fence?
- If I’m unable to build a vegetable garden fence right now, are there other ways to protect my garden?
1. What kinds of critters do I need to watch out for?
While we love and appreciate all animals, we can love and appreciate them best when they are kept outside of our gardens with a vegetable garden fence. The wildlife that might try to come munch on your backyard veggies depends largely on which region you live in and how close you live to or within a city. However, some of the most common critter culprits to vegetable gardens nationwide might include:
- Dogs and cats*
(*Dogs and cats can be either a nuisance or a protective agent! More on that later.)
2. How high should my vegetable garden fence be?
Before you consider building a vegetable garden fence to protect your garden, first check to see what fencing laws might apply to your area. Once you are familiar with those laws, you can begin planning your fence.
The necessary height of your vegetable garden fence is directly related to the critters in your area that might try or are trying to get in.
If you live anywhere near the country, deer will likely be your garden’s biggest culprit. As lovely as they are to watch when you spot one, deer will eat your garden to bits if allowed in. Since deer are rather tall animals and can jump, your fence will need to reflect this in its height and construction.
For a vegetable garden fence to keep deer out, it needs to be at least 5-7ft tall, preferably 8-10ft tall. To deter the deer from jumping over the fence to get into the garden, it also helps if the fence is constructed with a slight slant. Angling the fence 45 degrees towards the direction from which the deer will most likely come might do the trick.
If you have a vegetable garden anywhere, you are almost guaranteed to attract some rabbits. You can think of ‘Peter Rabbit’ as not just a cautionary tale for children, but for vegetable gardeners as well!
Cats and dogs are other small to mid-sized mammals that might access your garden and cause a mess.
If you simply need to keep critters such as rabbits, cats, and dogs from entering, usually a small 3-foot tall wire mesh or chicken wire fence should do the trick. It is unlikely that a cat will climb the fence. When well-anchored, most dogs will not be able to knock it over. To deter the animals from digging under the fence, make sure the fence’s base is angled or curved outward a couple of feet and buried a few inches to form a protective apron.
There are some critters out there that are avid climbers, and your vegetable garden fence construction needs to reflect this. A few critters that may try to climb over your fence to get to your veggies might be raccoons, woodchucks, and opossums. To keep these animals out, construct a fence about 4 feet high. To deter them from climbing overtop, the top 18 inches of the fence should either be unattached to fall back when scaling is attempted or rigged with electric wiring.
A high enough vegetable garden fence is all well and good for keeping out most animals, but some pesky critters might invade by tunneling. These critters might be moles, voles, gophers, chipmunks, etc. If your vegetable garden is plagued by tunnelers, the most you can do is dig deep.
To deter tunnelers, create a fence that is not only a couple of feet high but a couple of feet deep as well. Inserting a wire mesh around the perimeter of your planting area about 2-3 feet deep should help deter these critters.
You might also want to create a cage-type mesh to place over your more prized plants in case anything gets through. This will also help deter any destructive attempts from birds who can naturally fly over any fenced area.
3. What materials can I use to build a vegetable garden fence?
You can build a vegetable garden fence out of just about anything. When deciding on the material of your fencing, consider factors such as:
- Wear and tear
- Visual appeal
Once you know the height (and depth) your vegetable garden needs to be depending on the animals you are trying to protect your garden from and consider the above factors, you can then decide the material for your fencing. Your vegetable garden fence might be constructed from a wide array of materials, such as:
- Chicken wire/ wire mesh
- Recycled metal
- Rolled bamboo
- Wood and greenery
- Patterned wood
- Dried brush
- Whitewashed wood
- Colorful recycled wood
- White lattice
- Wooden logs
- Wooden fence with metal gate
- Electric fencing*
(*Electric fencing is a safe and effective way to deter animals from your garden, and handy if you prefer not to have a visual perimeter)
4. If I’m unable to build a vegetable garden fence right now, are there other ways to protect my garden?
Depending on fencing laws in your area, cost, or time available, you might not yet be able to build a vegetable garden fence. In this case, there are a few alternative remedies to fencing you might try.
If you can’t build a structural vegetable garden fence, consider planting a border of deterrent plants around your garden. Plants that critters dislike that have a furry or barbed texture or a pungent smell might help keep unwanted guests out.
If you make coffee at home, save the coffee grounds! Spreading coffee grounds as a barrier around each of your plants can act as a defense against not just unwanted furry critters, but creepy crawly critters as well. Not only does leftover coffee grounds deter critters, but it actually acts as a natural compost to help keep your plants healthy as well!
(PRO TIP: If you’re not a coffee drinker, ask your local coffee shop to save their leftover coffee grounds for your garden!)
There are a few other natural repellants you might consider if chemical repellants are out of the question for you because of potential harm to pets or children. Some of these natural repellants you might consider can be:
- Garlic spray
- Hot pepper spray
- Castor oil
- Neem oil spray
If natural repellants and remedies just aren’t doing the trick, there are a few artificial repellants that might work for you:
- Chemical sprays (although, to consider any drawbacks to using chemicals depending on your individual situation)
- Ultrasonic sounds
- Noisemakers (*see video below for a simple homemade noisemaker idea!)
Animal traps to protect your vegetable garden is not as inhumane as it sounds! There are plenty of trapping methods that both deter entrance to your garden and keep animals unharmed. One such method is live trapping, which is simply a cage that uses a lure and a spring-loaded door. However, once you trap an animal you then have the responsibility of relocating it safely. Before using this method, check for any animal relocation laws that might be in effect in your area and have a relocation plan in place.
Here’s where cats and dogs might come in handy! If you prefer not to have a vegetable garden fence or are not able to build one, a well-trained dog or cat let loose in your backyard might do the trick!
Cats are great at catching and fending off smaller critters like mice, chipmunks, voles, moles, rabbits, etc. Dogs can also be an excellent way to keep out larger animals like unwanted deer. However, dogs can either be a help or a hazard depending on their digging habits. Only use a dog to help protect your garden if they have been properly trained to keep their digging to specific areas only.