A Garden Fencing Guide: What You Need to Know

If you put in the time and effort to grow and maintain your garden, you will obviously want to protect it from outside enemies such as animals. This is the main reason, though not the only one as we’ll see, to put up a vegetable garden fence. This article will give you a basic guide to the kinds of fences to use, how to install them, and the benefits and drawbacks to using particular kinds of fences to protect your vegetable garden.

The Reasons to Use Garden Fencing

The first thing you need to figure out is what kind of fence you need, and to do this you need to know why you need the fence.

The first major reason people use garden fencing is to protect their garden from animals and other pests. Rabbits, groundhogs, deer, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and other animals can all get into your garden and absolutely wreak havoc on your creation, destroying your hard work. Thus, you’ll need a physical barrier to keep them out. Protection is probably the main reason that people use a garden fence system. Note that you want to protect the animals from the garden as much as you want to protect the garden from the animals! Using this physical barrier is thus the most humane solution here, lest you resort to using pesticide or farm dogs and cats to protect the area and potentially harm the critters!

The second major reason people use a garden fence is for safety and utility. They can use it to make sure they keep the garden separate from other parts of the yard, preventing small children or pets from wandering into the garden where they don’t belong and could get injured. In addition, you prevent other people from snooping around in your garden. (You may want to couple this with garden lights to really make sure your installation is safe). Another reason to use this fencing is to ‘mark off’ particular areas of your property, or as a way to separate different sections of the garden as an organizational aid. You may also have reason to keep particular plant life separate, giving you another reason to use garden edging fence.

There is a third reason to install garden fencing, and it’s one that many people don’t think about – beauty and aesthetics. The right decorative garden fencing can add a lot to your hardscape and landscape. The wrong garden fence can be an eyesore on your property, one that you hate looking at. Thus, don’t forget that the fence is something you’ll have to live with for a long time, so it should be something that you at least don’t mind seeing. It is possible, with enough planning, to get fence customized for the look and feel of your yard if aesthetics really matter for you.

How to Pick the Right Garden Fence for You

If you are creating a fence to protect your garden from animals, you’ll have to first determine what kinds of animals are damaging your crops. This can be done by examining the evidence and tell-tale signs that they leave behind; there are plenty of guides out there on the Internet that can help you do this. For instance, the way they dig, tooth marks, and scat can all be helpful; pest or animal control can also help you in extreme cases. You might also put up some wireless cameras or lights in order to see the creatures, especially at night.

The kind of barrier you use will depend on your enemy. For instance, if you are just dealing with some birds and squirrels, you might able to put up a mesh or wire cover for that particular area of the garden. Thus, you will be able to avoid the expense of putting up even the most basic garden fence, saving you a lot of time and trouble and making the barrier a bit more ‘mobile.’ Otherwise, you will probably have to put up a more permanent structure.

For more serious creatures like deer, rabbits, and the like will have their own solutions:

Deer – you can put up plastic mesh fencing to deter these animals. Realize, though, that other animals like rabbits can quickly chew through this plastic garden fencing and render the barrier useless. These guys are a pain in the neck when it comes to regular fences, though, because they can easily jump even a relatively high fence. Thus, if you are really having a severe deer problem throughout your entire garden, you might want to ‘double up’ and use two consecutive fences to really keep them out. The nuclear option here is electric fencing, but the safety issues and maintenance inherent in them make it a last resort for many garden owners. There are also some other methods you could use to scare away or deter the deer, but for this article we’re just focusing on fencing.

Raccoons – these animals are best deterred with an electric fence.

Rabbits, gophers, skunks these animals (along with any animals with sharp teeth) can present a special problem because they are able to chew through weak defenses. In addition, they can burrow through the ground if necessary to try to get under the fence. For these burrowing animals, materials such as poultry netting or hardware cloth will have to be buried underneath the fence to prevent this from happening.

Dogs, goats, pigs, chickens – these and other domestic animals can be kept out with any kind of large fence that is able to deter these sized critters.

Types of Vegetable Garden Fence

Now that you know what kinds of animals you’re dealing with, and the kinds of fence you will need to use, let’s talk about the different kind of fence materials that you can use to create your installation.

Wire Garden Fencing – One kind of this wire is stretched between very sturdy posts, made from wood or metal and buried into the ground, and is used to cover the perimeter of the garden in question. Though this can be harder to install than other kinds of wire fencing, you’ll find that it works better on uneven terrain due to its ‘adaptability’ and flexibility. Another kind of wire fencing is more sturdy, so it’s easier to install as it just needs to be strung around the perimeter posts. However, it should be used primarily on even ground.

Garden Fencing Panels – These stock panels are great to use, either made from metal or wood, as they can be easily attached to the metal or wood posts around the perimeter. In addition, they can be easily removed when necessary, allowing them to be mobile and flexible. In general, metal garden fencing is the best you can use because it cannot be gnawed by animals and it can withstand the rain and elements that may otherwise rot or damage wooden fence.

Wrought Iron Fences – These can come in many different styles and patterns. The main advantage with these is strength and durability. They also allow the plants to growth through the fence, or at least if they need room to breathe – especially if they are trellis fencing.

Electric Fences – These are necessary to keep out certain kinds of critters, such as raccoons, but they come with their own annoyances. First, of course, they need to be connected to a power source. Second, they can be a safety hazard to innocent animals and humans alike. Third, many people have an ethical problem with hurting animals with an electric shock. However, sometimes it’s a necessary evil if the infestation is serious enough.

Wood or Picket Fences – Many people enjoy this material for garden fencing simply because it gives your yard a natural and quaint look. Wooden garden fences are generally composed of fence panels, fence posts, and garden gates. The different kinds of paneling available, such as timber, chestnut, closeboard, and more, all depend on your needs for the fence. These fences can also be supplemented with other kinds of fencing, such as netting, to add strength and function to your fence.

Bamboo Garden Fences – Many people are leaning towards bamboo fences due to their ‘natural’ character and if they want a cheap garden fence. They look great and come in a variety of styles and designs, allowing you to do something a bit different than the typical wood or metal fence.

Vinyl or Plastic Fences – These materials are more ‘artificial’ than wood or metal, but some people like their look and durability. They are usually easy to install and easy to maintain.

Stone Fences These are more walls than fences, but they may be an interesting choice if you’re looking for something more permanent and a bit more fashionable and attractive.

Shurbs or trees – You could even use natural hedges to protect the side of your garden, though of course this is only good for larger animals, as smaller ones could easily crawl underneath or through these plants.

Other – I’m sure there’s other kinds of fencing (like trellis fences) that I didn’t cover (yet), so obviously make sure you do your research if you’re looking for something really specific and unique. It probably exists!

Garden Fence Designs – Beauty Matters Too!

Another note – don’t forget aesthetics! We mentioned this as one of the important points above. You want to have a fence that you can stand looking at and, in a perfect world, a fence that complements the other aspects of your home and landscape. A nice fence can actually add some character to your yard, so it might pay to think beyond utility and function when it comes time to select your structure.

The first principle is simple: try to minimize the use of the fence as much as possible. If you can use other parts of your property – such as a side of the house or shed – to protect your garden, this is obviously better than having to surround it with a ton of fence.

The second thing to do is sketch out the design for your fence – what are its dimensions? What is its depth? Are there any accessories? Where will you enter and exit? What kinds of materials will you use for your fencing?

In addition, you need to know what animals you are protecting your garden against to generate these garden fence ideas. If aesthetics matter to you, you’ll obviously have to visualize how the fence will look to see if it meshes with the other parts of your property.

What accessories do you want to add? For instance, some homeowners like to cover their fencing with vines or other plant life to make it ‘blend in.’ Let your creativity shine. Some mix in plant life, stones, and man-made hardscape structures to really add some pizzazz to their project. However, sometimes just a simple wire fence is all you need and, probably, all you really want anyway. The fence should do what YOU want it to do, nothing more, nothing less.

Installing Your Garden Fencing

Most homeowners can install garden fences by themselves, though the option to hire a contractor or landscaper is always on the table. The specifics obviously depend on the kind of fence you are using, but the basics are generally the same: you’ll have to dig some holes to put the fence posts in securely, and then you’ll have to attach the planks or wires to the posts to create the secure fence.

You want to dig your posts deep enough so that they will be stable and withstand pressure from people, animals, and weather & wind. Note as well that you might have to do some digging along the fence itself if you have to install mesh or to bury the fence a bit to prevent burrowing animals from getting through.

Depth is not the whole story, either. You want to make your fence high enough to protect the garden, but not too high so as to waste your money or materials. You can combine a fence with barbed wire, for instance, to get the height without dealing with the increased prices of using more material.

Other Garden Fencing Ideas and Final Thoughts

  • Again, as mentioned above, you may need to use chicken wire or hardware cloth to put underneath the fence (in the ground) to prevent burrowing animals from circumventing your main fence. The depth of the barrier will depend on exactly what kinds of burrowers you’re dealing with.
  • Garden lighting may be useful to scare away critters at night, especially if it’s set to a motion sensor.
  • Don’t forget to add garden fence gates for your conveninence. You want to make sure that you can enter your garden at will without having to climb over a fence of course!
  • Note that some kinds of fences may come with maintenance costs. Wood fences, for example, may have to be replaced or repaired relatively often, while metal fences should hold up well over time.

Garden Lighting Ideas, Tips, and Designs

Garden lighting, also known as landscape lighting in some quarters, is a particular class of outdoor lighting that can add much beauty to your home, garden, and landscape.

Whether you go antique or modern, old-school or contemporary, you’ll be sure to add much value, beauty, and elegance to your home and garden by using these lights. However, the sheer variety of information and kinds of lighting and design that’s out there can be intimidating. To help you out, this article will give you a basic understanding of the ‘universe’ of outdoor lighting that exists out there. This article will be continually updated, so check back often for more information.

Benefits of and Reasons for Garden Lighting

There are many reasons to light up your garden or your landscape. The first, most obvious, reason is aesthetic – at night, no one can see the landscaping that you’ve spent so much time, money, and energy designing and creating. Of course, while aesthetics are important, they’re not the only reason: for instance, some use garden lighting to help protect their gardens, landscaping, walkways, etc. from people accidently stepping where they shouldn’t. You can illuminate a flowerbed to prevent people from stepping into it at night and potentially harming your installation. You can also light up a walking path through your yard and/or leading to your home to prevent people from tripping – this is the important safety element of proper garden lighting design.

Others install garden lights to help improve security around their home. Having a well-illuminated home may prevent robberies and other criminal activities – sometimes the best cure is prevention! This is especially true if you set up a motion-sensor connected flood light leading up to your house – this will prevent someone from sneaking up on your home unaware, and may prevent them from entering the area even if you’re not home, potentially discouraging robberies or vandalism.

The final major reason for installing garden and landscape lights is probably the most important – it enables you to make use of these spaces at night. For instance, you can light up your backyard patio, walkway, pool area, garden, and landscaping, enabling you to have an all-night barbecue or other party without fear of being left in the dark.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to installing garden lights. The main drawback is expense: outdoor lighting may not be cheap at times, especially when you’re dealing with fancy varieties or complex installations. But don’t worry if you can’t afford it all at the same time – this is the rare kind of home improvement project where you don’t have to do it all at once. Pick and choose what’s most important at the time, and then just do that – later, when you have the money, time, and inclination, expand your lighting as you see fit.

Kinds of Garden Lights

The most popular kinds of garden lights include low voltage garden lighting and (LED) solar powered garden lights. Lighting connected to mains is probably not going to be appropriate for most garden installations, simply because the light will be too bright for the purposes that most people want to use garden lighting for (soft, simple illumination). However, it is possible to use this, such as if you want to install a flood light of some kind, though you will want to hire an electrician to deal with this as you’ll want to make sure the installation is safe, well hidden, and protected against the elements.

The other main option is low voltage (usually 12V) lamps. These are connected not to the mains but to electricity that has been ‘transformed’ down to a lower voltage. You can get your own low voltage outdoor garden lighting kits and install this yourself with few problems – compare this to the main connected lighting above.

While most garden and landscaping lights will be powered by electricity, other lighting can potentially be powered by gas and other natural fuels. However, this is generally not viable for the purposes described in this article, as having open flames is usually not a good idea near vegetation and other potentially combustible areas. However, you can get garden lanterns and torches that emulate the look and feel of natural gas and propane alternatives if you’re looking for that antique appearance to your lighting.

If you are looking to save energy and protect the environment, solar garden lighting is probably your best bet, as it’s easy to install on your own since you won’t have to deal with laying wires or dealing with electricity in the usual sense. These LED garden lights options can either be powered individually, as each bulb will have its own photovoltaic cell and solar energy generator; or you can hook the lighting you’re your home’s solar panel system if you have one. However, this lighting is usually not as bright as the electric options, and if it doesn’t get enough sunlight it may not last long enough into the night for your taste. However, you can also get battery powered backups for these lights to make sure they have enough juice even during the cloudiest and darkest periods of the year. You can easily purchase solar outdoor lighting kits for relatively low cost, especially considering you probably won’t have to pay labor costs to get it installed by a contractor.

Garden Lighting Design Ideas

The first thing to keep in mind when installing your garden lights and designing the project is figuring out where you want to put them. For most projects, the location of the exterior garden lighting will be somewhat obvious. However, what may not be obvious are the ways to mount and display these lights.

The debate between mounting your lights and keeping them mobile is a debate that can’t be solved generally – it needs to be considered on a case by case basis. Having mounted lighting can give you the most options when it comes to the types and styles of lights to use, but of course it will be difficult to change things up. On the other hand, mobile lighting will restrict your options for light varieties while also allowing you to move your lights and experiment at will with different arrangements.

While we go into a more in-depth discussion of the locations of lights in the article about outdoor lighting, we’ll repeat them here:

  • You can install lights on posts or poles in the middle of your flowerbed or landscape. This also includes installing them in or on trees in the area.
  • Garden lights can also be mounted on walls nearby the area that’s to be illuminated, for instance near the home, a shed, or other area. A variant of the wall-mounted lights are the strings of lights that are strewn about the home; you can also place these strings of lights directly on the plants and landscaping that you already have set up. While the above two ideas (pole and wall mounted) give you illumination from above, otherwise known as “down lighting”…
  • Lights can also be buried ‘in grade’, or ‘recessed,’ to have illumination come from the ground up. They can also rest directly on the ground, as they don’t necessarily need to be buried. This is called “up lighting.” One example of this is path lights or concrete pavers lights; these lights are installed directly into the project to allow for illumination to line the path or trail as necessary. You can also bury these lights into your flowerbeds and other landscaping installations to create subtle but effective illumination in those areas. You can also put other lights at the ground level of trees and other shrubbery to illuminate them differently than simply putting them up at the top of the structures. Putting them in flowerbeds and other landscaping installations can illuminate your flowers, statues, stepping stones, walkways, and other structures that you want to be visible at night.
  • Depending on what you’re working with in the area of illumination, you can also mount these lights on ceilings (hanging lights).
  • String lighting is also interesting, not only for trees but also shrubs of any kind. It doesn’t have to be Christmas or the holiday season to use these!
  • Much of these garden lighting ideas are stationary, but you can also get lighting that is a bit more mobile. Torches, lamps, and other lighting fixtures can be easily transported as aesthetics or function dictates (for instance, if you want to move the main gathering area for a party).

Some Other Outdoor and Deck Lighting Ideas

  1. Besides motion activated lights, you can also get lights that turn on according to the directions of a timer. Some lights will also turn on automatically when the ambient light gets to a certain point (i.e. they will turn on at night and turn off in the morning by themselves).
  2. Note when installing any garden or landscape lighting to be careful about the wiring. You want to make sure that the wiring is accessible enough to be maintained or replaced as necessary but not so vulnerable as to be potentially cut or damaged during other excavation or digging. Thus, you may need to hire an electrician or contractor to get the job done correctly. This is one of the advantages of solar garden lights – you often don’t have to deal with any wiring at all.
  3. Note that some lighting will require permits and other applications to your local town or county, so make sure you do research pertaining to your local area before you commit to any project. Note that many landscape designers and contractors will probably be able to tell you what you need to do here, so use them as a resource.
  4. Some general garden lights landscape advice: aside from the location of the lights, don’t forget to think about their orientation. Where are they pointing? In what direction? What is the interaction between different lights in the area? There’s an art and a science to all this, so don’t be afraid to experiment, especially if you have access to cheap garden lights that you can play around with liberally.
  5. You can also integrate your lights into your hardscape structures. We’ve already discussed paver lights, used especially for walkways, outdoor patios, pool decks, and driveways, but don’t forget the vertical structures. Adding lights to retaining walls and paver steps may be a great way to illuminate these structures for both beauty and safety.
  6. Don’t forget about underwater lighting? If you have a pool, pond, fountain, or waterfall, or any other body of water, don’t forget the possibility of using these outdoor lights to illuminate them. The lighting can wall mounted, submerged in the water, or even floating on the surface, among other options!
  7. Note that heat is an issue – you don’t want the lights to get too hot for the kinds of plants you have, lest you kill them!

Some Final Garden Lighting Tips

Here are some final tips to help you when you’re putting the finishing touches on your project:
Note that you may not want the light itself to be visible – thus, consider blocking it or covering it with another structure (rock, bush, whatever) to make the light itself disappear while still allowing the illumination emanating from it to do its job.
Don’t forget the possibilities of using lights to ‘pick out’ or highlight particular areas or structures in your yard. For instance, you can illuminate your new waterfall solely, or use lights to illuminate the entire garden area. What the light ‘focuses’ on will often determine how the entire area looks.
Experiment with different light brightness levels. Bright lights are more appropriate for functional and security reasons, while dimmer lights and ‘backlights’ may be more suitable for aesthetic reasons – i.e. they will look the best from a distance.