FAQ #25: How do I create a beautiful and functional garden fence?

From Lily: Gardening has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. And with one constant seems to come another… Garden Critters.

We all have our stories. The deer strolled though and ate the tops off all the baby beets. The woodchucks chomped cabbage heads in half. The neighbor’s horse got loose and stampeded the entire garden. Rascally raccoons destroyed the corn crop in the night. The squirrels had family feast in the blueberry bushes. Robins pulled out every bean sprout as they emerged from the earth.  I’m all for sharing the harvest, but come on. This past spring was the last straw. I watched my own dog eat the asparagus shoots right out of the ground!

It was time to build a fence.

To install my own fence seemed like an unappealing and daunting project. I was intimidated. I like freedom, ease, and of course beauty in the veggie garden. Alas, I had to make moves. Precious asparagus was being robbed. There was no time to waste. Honestly, the dog was the main motivator. My biggest worry was that my quickie fence would be an eyesore. The final product has turned out to be nothing of the sort.

My garden comrades and I made construction choices with installation time, simplicity, and expense in mind. We decided on very basic materials that were easy to procure. Cedar posts for the corners and the entrance; installed with a borrowed posthole digger. Wooden grade stakes as the perimeter; one every 5-ish feet, pounded in with a mallet. Coated wire fencing with small holes at the bottom to keep out little critters and large holes at the top which is eye pleasing. We paid a little extra for this but I’m glad because the design is truly easy on the eyes (visually I’m not a fan of chicken wire). A staple gun came in handy to attach the fencing to the grade stakes. Lastly, a very simple wooden frame was constructed with the fencing material as the gate.

The fence has given the garden a sense of place and boundaries. It is no longer just a plot plowed out of the lawn. There is now a container to hold all the ideas, inspirations, and plans for the garden. In only a few hours we transformed the space! This year I hope to incorporate the fence more into the planting scheme of the garden by creating a narrow bed along the edge. The fence is a built in trellis. Why not plant annual climbing flowers! My favorites of course: Sweet peas, Cobaea, and Painted Lady Runner Beans.

I’ve also been dreaming up a project to build a solid gate. A gate that is structurally sound and provides an identity to the garden. Entrances hold an opportunity to set a scene, create a mood, transition from one thing to another. They are the first impressions of a space. When you pass through a gate or doorway you have the chance to leave behind what you don’t need: a chance to step into the present.

Here's some inspiration for gates and fences…