Installing a garden fence can keep your plants secure from a range of marauding animals. Chicken wire fences and electric fences are popular options. Chicken wire is a good garden fence choice for smaller animal species such as rabbits and, of course, chickens that are trying to raid your garden. Electric fence is one of the most secure fence styles you can use for hard-core garden plunderers like raccoons, according to the Utah State University Cooperative Extension. However, it can also pose safety risks to pets and small children.
Mark and clear your fence line. Use your lawn mower to cut a 2-foot to 3-foot strip of grass to mark the location of your proposed garden fence. Provide enough room around the outermost rows of vegetables for you to be able to walk comfortably with a wheelbarrow without having to brush up against the fence, especially if it’s going to be an electric fence. Mark the corner post locations with a can of spray paint.
Install your corner posts. Steel T-posts work well for both chicken wire fences and electric fences. Slide the hand-held metal post driver over the top of the first steel T-post and position the bottom of the post at the first corner post location. Hammer the T-post approximately 12 to 18 inches into the ground with the post driver.
Install the corner post insulators for your electric fence. Put wrap-around plastic T-post insulators around your corner posts, encircling the back of the post with the clasp and hooking it to the front of the insulator. You want the wires to be about 6 to 8 inches apart, so locate the insulators at those intervals, with the first one approximately 6 inches above the ground. Three to four insulators should produce a secure fence that is between 2 and 3 feet tall.
Insert your line posts into the ground along the fence line. Hammer 4-foot metal rebar posts 6 to 9 inches into the ground for your chicken wire fence; locate the posts approximately 10 feet apart. Plastic step-in posts with built-in insulators are the easiest line post option for electric fences since they’re convenient to move and you don’t have to install separate insulators. Position the posts approximately 10 feet apart, pushing them into the ground with your foot until the plastic tread is flush with the ground.
Install the fence wire. Wrap the end of your chicken wire around the first corner post, securing it with several pieces of 12.5-gauge wire. Attach the fence in the same way to each of the line posts and the other corner posts. For your electric fence, attach the bottom wire to the first corner post insulator, making sure it doesn’t touch the metal post. Thread the wire through the built-on insulators in the line posts and the other corner posts, bringing it around the circumference of your garden and attaching it to the original corner post insulator. Repeat this procedure for each electric wire.
Connect the fence energizer for your electric fence. Use a 2-foot to 3-foot piece of 12.5-gauge wire to create a jumper wire connecting all the electric fence strands to each other; this gives you a complete circuit that will energize all your fence wires. Attach the clip on your fence energizer’s positive terminal to the bottom wire. Attach the clip on the negatively-charged terminal to your fence charger’s grounding system, which is typically just a steel rod inserted into the ground.