Creating a beautiful, raised garden bed takes a lot of hard work, and can be nothing worse than garden critters destroying it. Although chicken wire is mainly used to enclose chickens and turkeys to safeguard them from predators, you can also use it to protect your raised garden bed. So, how can you do this?
Here are six easy steps to put chicken wire around a raised garden bed:
- Select the right kind of chicken wire.
- Check if you need to attach the wire to a frame.
- Build a frame the same size as your garden bed.
- Cut your chicken wire and staple it to the frame.
- Use wooden garden stakes to support the wire if you don’t use a frame.
- Staple the chicken wire to the stakes.
In this article, I will take you through each of the above steps, which should help you, even if you’ve never used chicken wire before. The best part about using chicken wire to keep unwanted visitors from messing with your veggies is that you will spend next to nothing to complete your project.
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1. Select the Right Kind of Chicken Wire
The first step is choosing the right kind of chicken wire. To do so, you need to assess the needs of your raised flower bed as objectively as possible. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What kind of animals am I trying to protect my garden from?
- Do I need to protect my garden from all sides (including the top)?
- Is my raised garden bed built in such a way that I can place wire across it without needing a frame?
- How large is my raised garden bed?
- How much of a DIY expert am I?
Your answers to these questions will help determine the following:
- What kind of wire you should buy.
- How you will secure the chicken wire.
- If you need to buy or construct a frame.
- How you must secure it to your bed.
- How much chicken wire you need to buy.
- How high the wire should be.
- If you need help constructing a frame.
Chicken wire is relatively lightweight, and is made using thin steel wires woven in a hexagonal pattern. The smaller the hexagonal openings in your chicken wire, the more protected your plants will be.
If you are concerned about smaller animals getting into your raised garden bed, you may want to opt for a chicken wire with smaller hexagonal openings. In this case, chicken wire with 1 to 2 inch (2,50 to 5 centimeter) openings should be ideal.
If you are dealing with larger animals (such as rabbits or goats), you should consider chicken wire with wider openings.
As far as durability goes, you can expect chicken wire to last at least a few years. How long your chicken wire will last depends on five key factors:
- What kind of hardware you choose.
- If the wire is made from galvanized metal.
- If you live in a wet or dry area.
- If your area experiences extreme weather events, such as tornadoes.
- What kind of animals you are trying to protect your plants from, and how persistent they are.
High quality chicken wire is more expensive but it will last you longer as the metal mesh is usually covered in a special alloy that makes it more resistant to corrosion, wear and tear.
Cheaper quality chicken wire, on the other hand, is more likely to rip and tear, especially when exposed to water and high levels of humidity over a long period of time.
A particularly motivated animal may be able to bite through your chicken wire, and gain access to your raised garden bed.
However, unless you are growing vegetables that are likely to attract notoriously persistent predators such as foxes and opossums, chances are that you will never face this problem.
It’s important to note that if you’re trying to prevent mice from entering your raised garden bed, chicken wire will not suffice as smaller animals can easily make their way through the small openings.
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2. Check If You Need To Attach the Wire to a Frame
If you need to protect your garden from the sides but not from the top, you will not need a proper cage. All you will need to do is roll out the chicken wire and place it around your raised garden bed.
The height of your chicken wire will depend primarily on what kind of animals you are trying to keep out of your raised garden beds: the larger the animals, the higher the chicken wire should be.
If your raised garden bed is built in such a way that you can place chicken wire across it without needing a frame, then you are very fortunate because all you will need to do is ensure you have enough chicken wire to cover your plants.
If your raised garden bed doesn’t have a support structure to which you can attach the chicken wire, you will have to roll up your sleeves and build one yourself (more about this later on).
How difficult and time-consuming this step is will depend mainly on the kind of protection you require.
Keep in mind that if you require a proper frame, you will probably need an extra pair of hands as someone will have to stretch out the chicken wire with their hands while you are stapling – or vice versa.
If you are determined to do it on your own, you will need to hold one side of the chicken wire with one hand while stapling the other side to the frame with the other. If you choose this method, work slowly and methodically.
3. Build A Frame the Same Size As Your Garden Bed
There are two basic ways to put chicken wire around a raised garden bed. You can use stakes or build a frame to which you can attach the chicken wire. Alternatively, if you need a frame, you will need to measure your raised garden bed and build your frame accordingly.
Your frame must be exactly the same size as your garden bed, but it is fine if it is a little narrower. If your raised garden bed is made of wood, then you will want your frame to be the same shape and size as the garden bed so that you may place the frame directly onto it.
If your raised garden bed is made of a more resistant material (e.g. brick or concrete), your frame must be slightly wider and taller, as it will need to cover not only your plants but also the sides of your raised garden bed.
If you have a rectangular raised garden bed, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- When the bottom part of your frame is ready, take four posts and place them in the corners of your rectangle.
- Connect the posts to the bottom part of your frame with a drill (you may need help with this step as someone may have to hold the posts in place while you drill).
- You will now have a roofless cage, which is perfectly acceptable if you do not need to cover the top of your raised garden bed.
- To protect your raised garden bed from all sides, including the top, you will need to construct a proper cage with an actual roof. Thankfully, this is easy to do and only requires a few extra steps.
- Simply build a structure that is identical to the base of your frame for which you will need four more wood slats.
- Now place the structure on top of your existing frame and secure it to the posts (you are essentially going to follow the same steps as you did with the bottom of the frame.
- Et voilà: your cage is ready!
4. Cut Your Chicken Wire and Staple It to the Frame
This step is the easy part. Once your frame is ready, roll out the chicken wire and make sure that you have enough.
Assuming your frame consists of two 40 in x 40 in (101 cm x 101 cm) sides and two 25 in x 40 in (60 cm x 101 cm) sides.
When cutting your chicken wire, you have two options: you may use two 40 in x 40 in (101 cm x 101 cm) squares and two 25 in x 40 in (60 cm x 101 cm) rectangles which you will individually staple to your frame, or you may cut a single rectangle measuring 130 in x 40 in (330 cm x 101 cm).
Always cut a slightly bigger piece than you actually need and cut any excess chicken wire once you are finished stapling.
Now, staple your chicken wire to the frame, making sure to stretch it out with your hands so that your cage has a neat and professional look. Loose chicken wire would make the entire structure look sloppy and would also increase the risk of small garden critters entering the raised garden bed.
If your cage has a roof, you will have to line the inside of the roof as well. You can do this by following the below steps:
- Cut another piece of chicken wire, ensuring that it is the same size as the roof.
- Wrap the piece of chicken wire across the top of your frame so that it lays perfectly flat, and stretch it out with your hands (you may need help with this step).
- Staple the chicken wire to the top and cut away any excess material.
- You now have a removable cage that will keep your vegetables safe from unwanted visitors.
5. Use Wooden Garden Stakes To Support the Wire If You Don’t Use A Frame
Using wooden garden stakes as support is probably the most cost effective and quickest way of putting chicken wire around a raised garden bed. Instead of building a frame (which takes time and energy), you can simply buy a few wooden garden stakes and staple the chicken wire to them.
If your raised garden bed is rectangular, you will only need four stakes, i.e., one for each corner. You should then determine how long your chicken wire must be.
Once you have determined the size, roll it out on a flat surface and cut it accordingly.
To ensure that your stakes do not fall over when it rains heavily and/or when animals try to push through the chicken wire, you will have to bury them deep into the ground.
For additional stability, you may water the soil and give your stakes an extra push. When the soil dries up, it will be even harder to remove the stakes.
If you are dealing with particularly hard soil, you may want to try the following steps:
- Measure the stakes so that you know how large the holes should be.
- Cut or dig four holes in the ground with a sharp knife or shovel.
- Place the stakes in the holes.
- Using a mallet, start pounding until the stakes feel secure and firmly in place.
- If you see any gaps around the stakes, fill them with soil and then pour water over them.
- Allow the stakes to dry before attaching the chicken wire to it.
6. Secure the Chicken Wire to the Stakes
Once your stakes are firmly placed into the ground, you can secure the chicken wire to them using a staple gun.
When stapling, make sure that you stretch out the chicken wire with your hands until it looks perfectly straight and tight (you may need help with this step).
Finally, cut off any excess wire so that it looks neat and tidy.
Putting chicken wire around your raised garden bed is a very effective and affordable way to protect your plants from unwanted visitors. Depending on your budget and needs, you may choose to cover your entire raised garden bed in chicken wire with a custom-built frame, or opt for a much simpler solution.
Alternatively, you can install a few stakes and secure the chicken wire with a stapler.
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