Fences add a sense of structure to your landscape and, in the vegetable garden, can serve the additional purpose of keeping deer, rabbits or other pests out of your crops. A fence also provides a windbreak, which helps control soil erosion or damage to plants. A garden fence can be as beautiful and ornate or as sturdy and practical as you want it to be, and the type of fencing you choose depends on the intended purpose and your lifestyle.
Chicken Wire and Other Mesh Fences
A simple chicken wire fence is cheap, easy to install yourself, and, if buried to a depth of at least 6 to 12 inches, keeps bunnies from burrowing into your garden. Chicken wire is sold at most home improvement or garden supply stores, and may also be sold under the term poultry wire. A heavier gauge of metal mesh fencing is also available, and is sometimes referred to as sheep wire fencing. Chicken wire might not be too pretty, but it gets the job done. A chicken wire or sheep wire fence will probably need repairs or patches every year, and will need to be replace completely after about five years, when the metal begins to rust or become brittle. Chicken wire and sheep wire fencing can also be used within the garden as a trellis for beans or peas, and you can train morning glories or other flowers up the outer fence.
Heavy Duty, Permanent Fences
If you'd like something sturdier than chicken wire, consider installing a heavy duty, permanent fence. Chain link fencing is an inexpensive option, and you can also find metal or wooden fences in a variety of styles. Some types of fencing are sold in connecting panels that you can install yourself. If you have access to a large amount of stones, you can construct an elegant fieldstone fence that may last for centuries. To keep rabbits out, you'll need a fence with spacing no wider than 1 1/2 inches, which can be accomplished by lining the bottom of your fence with buried chicken wire. However, you should avoid wooden fences if rabbits are a serious problem, since they may gnaw on and damage the wood.
If you live in an area where deer are a issue, put deer fencing around your vegetable garden to keep critters from snacking on your hard work. Since deer have powerful legs and are good jumpers, an effective deer fence should be a minimum of 8 feet tall. If you only have a short fence, you might be able to fool the deer by installing tall fence posts and stringing thick, colored ribbon between them, creating the illusion of a tall fence. Deer may also be hesitant to pass through a wall of very thickly planted pine or spruce trees.
If you work just as hard cultivating the aesthetics of your garden as you do your tomatoes and strawberries, you might want to incorporate some decorative fencing into your vegetable garden. There is a wide variety of decorative fences to use, from white picket fences to bamboo screens to rustic, ranch-style wooden fences. Depending on your fence design, you may be able to marry beauty and practicality by attaching buried chicken to the inside of your decorative fence.