Gary's Garden

The best fence ever.

May 29, 2010

The problem
I gave up gardening, you know. It was the deer. The first year they found, ripped up by the roots and consumed all of my newly planted strawberries. The next year they discovered and completely consumed all my peas and beans. And so it continued, each year they'd try a few more new things, and left nothing of it but bare earth.
The year they left only horseradish and rhubarb I gave up.

The solution
A few years later Central Tractor had a sale on dog kennels - 6 foot high 12 foot long panels that clamp together to make a 12 by 12 foot square. I took it home, put it together, dumped my grass clippings in to kill the turf, and there was my best garden ever! Neighbors told me that 6' wasn't high enough to keep out deer, so I figured I'd attach posts to the corners and run string with little flags along the top. I never needed to do that. Just because deer can jump that high doesn't mean they will, and for 20 years or so they haven't. No rabbits! Groundhogs can get in, but rarely do, and when they do my Hav-A-Heart trap has always nabbed them within a day (and I have an article coming on how to catch groundhogs).

The beat goes on
When Central Tractor had another sale, I bought another kennel, and combined the two. If you remember your geometry, you might realize that this quadrupled my garden! I could have gained even more space if I had arranged them as an octangle.

24' by 24' is a nice little garden, but I'm a fanatic. I found a good price on 10' by 6' panels directly from the manufacturer, and since I bought 20, they shipped free. I'd have gotten the most bang for the buck by combining all the panels to make one big garden, but space dictated two separate, smaller gardens. The new one was 50' x 50'.

But wait, there's more!
My garden is in my front yard, and the fence makes everything look neat and tidy. The panels are easy to reconfigure, recombine and move around. This is the quickest, easiest way to a deer-proof fence.

I ordered 2 of the panels with gates for the large garden, and placed them at opposite ends of the garden, but the gates are small, human sized. They handle a wheelbarrow, but not a garden cart. No problem! Loosen the 2 clamps on one side of a panel (use a 1/2" wrench), and remove the clamps from the other, and you have a gate anywhere from 1 panel wide up to the whole side of the garden. I bought an extra 1/2" wrench for 50¢ at a flea market to keep handy at the gardens.


This fence isn't very cheap, so a sale on dog kennels is a good place to start. I see sales at farm supply stores and home improvement centers every spring. Make sure you get a kennel made with panels, the one-piece frame type can't be expanded by combining sets or loose panels. Go 6' high if you want to keep out deer. If you're ready to go big, try online searching "dog kennel panels" or "temporary fence chain link panels". You might find you prefer welded wire to chain link. They're painted or powder coated instead of galvanized and have a neater, more civilized look, but cost considerably more.

Panels are self supporting with up to 4 to a side, longer runs need a little help. I use a metal post tied (wired) to the middle panel on a 5 panel run. The post is hammered into the ground (no digging) and is easy to pull up if you want to move things around. Using a configuration other than a straight run avoids that need.

The most garden for the fewest panels
If you have a good feel for geometry, you won't need to read this part.
If you buy multiple kennels and space allows, use your panels to make one enclosure as close to a circle as possible. Thus with 8 panels, one enclosure is better than 2, a square is better than a rectangle, and an octogon (the closest to a circle you can get with 8 equal sides) is better than a square.


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