Protecting Plants|Space Gardening

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 ornamental trees 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. Here are some ideas on how to use wires for plant protection:


1. Cages: Hungry animals such as deer will eat practically any plant in sight, but the tender foliage of young trees and shrubs is like a delicacy. Without protecting new plants, deer might eat all the leaves, strip away the bark and kill the plants. A chicken wire cage installed around the plant blocks animals’ access, giving young plants a fighting chance at survival. The thin, flexible wire can be trampled easily if you build a free-standing cage, so drive a few stakes spaced evenly around the plant. The stakes form a more rigid frame to support the chicken wire, which you can attach to the stakes using wire fence ties, plastic zip ties or wood staples.


2. Fencing: An entire flower bed or garden might require a fence made from stakes and chicken wire to protect the plants, particularly if you have trouble with burrowing animals, such as rabbits and groundhogs. The fence should measure about 36 inches tall, but use 1-inch mesh chicken wire that measures about 18 inches longer so you can bury a portion of the fencing to prevent the animals from burrowing under the fence. For the best defense against burrowing animals, dig a 12-inch-wide, 6-inch-deep trench so you can bury 6 inches of the fence vertically and bend the bottom of the fencing horizontally so persistent animals can’t burrow under the fence.


3. Crop Cover: Whether you grow in raised beds or directly in the soil, young plants can benefit from a chicken wire crop cover to keep birds and other animals away and protect the plants from foot traffic. If you have a raised bed with sides that are taller than the plants, you can simply stretch the chicken wire across the plants and staple it to the sides of the raised bed. As an alternative, you can assemble a box frame from thin pieces of wood and staple chicken wire to the frame. When individual plants or a bed require protection, simply place the box over the plants and remove it when plants reach 6 to 12 inches tall.


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