No matter where you live, vegetable garden fences are an important consideration for protecting your garden from animal invaders. A garden fence provides a consistent and reliable barrier that isn't provided by repellents or scare devices.
A Garden Border Fence To Keep Out Animals
Deer, groundhogs, gophers, mice, raccons, rabbits, rats, skunks, and voles are some of the most common animals that feed on vegetable plants. Bears can also be a nuisance at times! Please read the following for garden fence guidelines for each animal group. If you desire a completely robust fence, you will need to build a fence that combines the attributes of many of the animal garden border fences listed below.
Deer Fence - (Mostly Nocturnal, Eating Young Plants)
The simplest recommendation for deer is an 8-foot high wire-mesh garden border fence. Wood or stone is also an option; the more solid the fence, the less likely deer will be to jump over it.
A more robust option is to build dual vegetable garden fences (deer are confused by multiple obstacles). This option requires building a 3-foot high fence built approximately 3 feet inside the previously recommended 8-foot high garden border fence. Ensure that the second fence is visible.
Deer do not like to be in confined spaces and will be deterred from attempting to enter the vegetable garden.
Note: Some people have simply used two 4-foot vegetable garden fences (3 feet apart) with success.
Groundhog Fence - (Will Take Sample Bites From Various Vegetables)
Groundhogs require a garden fence that is 3-4 feet high, and buried around 1 foot into the ground. The buried portion should be angled slightly outwards for best effect. A 2-inch wire mesh will work for this application. A second option is to use an electric fence that has two or more wires. Place one wire very close to the ground, and the second one approximately 8 inches off the ground.
Rabbit Fence - (Active During Evening and Morning, Leaving Pea-sized Droppings)
A vegetable garden fence that is 4 feet high and buried 6 inches into the ground (angled slightly outwards when buried) will keep out the most persistent rabbits. Do not use plastic mesh fencing; rabbits will chew through it.
Gopher Fence - (Always Active, Tunneling, Eating Roots, Seeds, and Seedlings)
Gophers require a fence that is approximately 1 foot high, and buried at least 2 feet into the ground so they cannot tunnel under. 3/4-inch poultry mesh is recommended. Gophers are persistent, and therefore a raised-bed garden made of lumber may be an additional step required if the fence does not work.
Raccoon Fence - (Active Mostly At Night, Very Clever at Finding Weak Spots in Fences)
An electric garden fence is the best way to deter raccoons from entering your garden. A two-strand electric fence that has high-pulsating voltage and low-amperage (such as used for cattle) is recommended. Place one strand ~6 inches off the ground, and the second strand 12 inches above the ground (6 inches above the first wire).
Skunk Fence - (Active At Night, Digging Up the Garden Looking for Worms and Grubs)
Skunks require a garden border fence similar to gophers. Use a 3/4-inch wire-mesh fence that is buried 8-12 inches deep (vertical), and curves out (away from the garden) 8-12 inches. This will prevent skunk (efficient diggers) from tunneling under the fence. Extending from ground level, the fence should be at least 3 feet high, angled slightly outwards from the garden.
Squirrel Fence - (Active During The Day)
Squirrels are agile and can drop into your vegetable garden from tree branches. An electrified vegetable garden fence is recommended. Use at least a two-strand electrified garden fence with one strand approximately 3 inches off the ground, and the second strand atop whatever other kind of garden border fence you have chosen to use (for other animals). This top strand will deter squirrels from climbing over the fence.
Vole Fence - (Active At Night, Making Small Gnaw Marks on Plants)
Voles require a vegetable garden fence that is 1/4 inch wire-mesh that is buried ~10 inches deep. Additionally, the fence should extend 1 foot above ground level.
Bear Fence - (Active Any Time, Often Forage At Night)
An electric bear fence is the best solution to keep these animals out of your garden or backyard. They are very good climbers and will not be deterred by a tall fence. A two-strand electric fence is recommended with one strand approximately 3-4 feet off the ground, and another strand atop the fence. These critters are attracted to any meat or sweets in your compost pile, and will also eat the seeds from squash.