Chicken wire, also known as poultry netting, is galvanized-steel fencing material originally used to secure poultry coops and enclosures. When you need an inexpensive material to protect your vegetables or ornamentals in the garden, chicken wire can play an important role in several plant-protection projects. It is easy to work with and safe around children if you bend back the cut ends of fencing to prevent scratches from the sharp wire.
Chicken wire is not a sufficiently heavy gauge to keep a motivated deer out of your garden when it is strung between fence posts. A large deer with a hankering for your vegetables or fruit can easily push down or jump over a chicken wire fence. However, deer do not like to walk on chicken wire. Lay chicken wire down, loosely staked to the ground, in a perimeter around the area you wish to keep deer-free.
Keep Out the Diggers
Squirrels can climb over chicken wire and rabbits can dig under it. A chicken wire fence is not likely to deter these would-be garden thieves from gaining access to your garden, but stretching the chicken wire horizontally over raised beds can give your seedlings and young plants some protection. Run lengths of chicken wire over your raised garden beds, attaching the wire mesh to the wood of the beds using staples. Sunlight and water will pass through to the soil in the raised beds, but pests will be unable to dig up your plants.
If you wish to use chicken wire to keep digging animals such as gophers and moles out of your garden, bury at least a foot of the chicken wire fence in the ground. Dig a trench a few inches wide and 1 foot deep along the perimeter of the area to be fenced. Dig holes for posts at intervals of 8 feet, situated either inside or outside the trench perimeter. Place the posts, securing them with concrete indicated for use with fence posts. Staple the chicken wire fencing to the posts so that 12 inches of the bottom of the chicken wire is buried in the trench. After the fence is installed, carefully replace the soil you removed from the trench.
Supplement Existing Fencing
If your garden is already fenced to keep children and pets out but the fencing is not doing much to deter smaller visitors, use chicken wire to supplement the existing fencing. Chicken wire can easily be strung along a wooden picket or rail fence and stapled to posts and rails. Small-gauge chicken wire can be wired on to existing chain-link fencing to reduce the size of the openings in the existing fence.
While chicken wire is a durable material for protecting plants in the garden, it does have rough edges and sharp points. Children should be advised not to touch or climb on chicken-wire fencing, and care must be taken to properly secure all chicken wire in its intended location.