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Mending my Small Kitchen Garden Fence

The wooden frames I made for my garden fence are of pressure-treated lumber. The corners are lap joints, meaning I removed half the material from each piece of wood so when I bolted them together they would be no thicker at the corners than at any other part of the frames. I removed the rusted, broken chicken wire from this frame in preparation for putting on new material.

When my small kitchen garden finally dried out at the end of May, of course I started planting. But setting seedlings in the soil motivates me to take on basic maintenance that feels nothing like gardening: evaluating the garden fence and mending any damage.

I have a rather ugly garden fence. This is because I built a fence first for my 14 foot by 14 foot planting bed and I made the fence three feet tall. Later, I doubled the size of the bed and built additional fence, but by then I’d realized a two-foot fence would be enough to discourage the rodents in my neighborhood. I saved money by using less chicken wire and wood for the new fence.

The mixture of high and low fence sections looks messy, but it’s mine.

Fence Mending with Plastic

I added a planting bed last year, and had no fence to protect it, so when I went shopping for materials to mend the old fence, I wanted to buy enough to create a fence as well around the garden annex. And then I found plastic fencing mesh.

These photos show detail of a bolted-together lap joint. There are two lag bolts on each corner, pulled very snugly into the wood by nuts on the opposite side. Note that I used washers behind the nuts. The metal has rusted, and algae has grown on the wood, but the frames are in decent shape even after 16 years of use. I love the well-aged look that these photos captured.

This stuff looks nice, it’s light weight, and it figured to be easy to handle. The chicken wire on some of my three-foot tall fence panels had rusted and broken, so I bought a fifty foot long roll of three foot wide plastic fencing. This would wrap around the annex planting bed and leave enough material to repair the old fence.

The photos show a fence panel and the steps I took to repair it. Here’s what I’ve learned: If you’re serious about fencing critters out of your garden, don’t use plastic fencing. Whoever decided to package and sell this stuff as though we should use it to protect our gardens is an idiot. Sorry, no apologies. The plastic fencing material looks nice, and it’s pretty convincing once you install it. But it won’t stop a rodent that has teeth and a little time on its hands.

Doesn’t this look like legitimate garden fencing material? The packaging claimed it’s garden fencing material. If gnawing rodents run free in your neighborhood, this type of plastic “fencing” is a waste of money.

I figured when I bought it that the plastic would be chew-vulnerable, but I also figured a rabbit or woodchuck would likely just walk away. After all, the stores sell this stuff as garden fence. And figuring on motivation of a small rodent: Why, I reasoned, bother chewing on plastic when there are so many fine things to eat underfoot?

Rodents that chew are a story for another day. The photos in this article show how I mended the old garden fence. Originally I built wooden frames to support chicken wire, and I stand those frames side-by-side around the garden’s perimeter. This is the first panel I repaired using plastic instead of wire, and I probably did the same with two other panels. Those are the last. Next time I repair fence, I’m using something made of metal.

An upcoming blog post, I believe, will convince you my decision is a good one.

There are no tricks to attaching plastic “fencing” to a wooden frame. Actually, the procedure works as well with metal fencing (chicken wire, for example), though you’ll need wire cutters instead of scissors when it comes to trimming chicken wire off the roll. My recommendation: use chicken wire.


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4 Responses to “Mending my Small Kitchen Garden Fence”

  • Rodents that chew – yes, they’re all over my neighborhood, too. Did you see the picture of Peter Rabbit visiting my lettuce patch? The fencing pulled away from the garage behind the rain barrel, and Peter found it.

  • Kris Gasteiger:

    Hey Bro,
    Those are CARRIAGE BOLTS. Lags have screw threads.

    Good essay otherwise.

    I’m giving up on critter prevention this year. Just don’t have the time to make it a practical obsession. Critters Win, sigh.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Daisy: Peter Rabbit sounds familiar, but I’ve seen so many rabbits this year, I can’t sort them all out. Did you lose a lot of produce when your fence failed?

    Kris: THOSE ARE CARRIAGE BOLTS!!! That’ll teach me to write a blog entry at 1:30AM! OK, it won’t… but I’ll try to be more accurate with my hardware references in the future. Thanks for setting me straight!

  • Thanks for the tip re: chicken wire on wooden frame. I am going to build a fence to hill my potatoes which are on a raised bed. I need it to contain the soil since there are other plants in the bed nearby.

    Luckily I have had no issues with rodents or other pests …yet.!

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