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Connecticut Garden Journal: Fences make good neighbors–and protect your plants

Blue picket fence and color flower planting.
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Depending on the perpetrator, the fence can be short or tall, sturdy or delicate. For young kids and small dogs, a 2- to 3-foot tall fence should be enough to keep them from bounding into the garden.

Whether it be from kids, pets or wildlife, many times our gardens need protection. There's nothing worse than to plant a garden only to have soccer balls knock down plants, dogs dig up the bed or wild animals eat your plants. The key to protecting your plants is often a good fence.

Depending on the perpetrator, the fence can be short or tall, sturdy or delicate. For young kids and small dogs, a 2- to 3-foot tall fence should be enough to keep them from bounding into the garden. A fence made from chicken wire, wood or netting can all work. For larger dogs that are interested in digging, a stronger, wire or wooden fence would work better. For animals, such as woodchucks or rabbits, a 4-foot tall wire fence is best as long as you curve the bottom foot to an “L” shape lying it flat on the ground covered in mulch. This will discourage tunneling under the fence. For woodchucks that climb, don't attach the top of the fence to posts and the woodchuck's weight will bend the fence, dropping them back down to the ground outside your garden.

Fencing may not work for cats that like to climb. Consider placing branches with thorns, such as roses and brambles, on newly planted gardens to discourage cats from using your bed as a litter box.

Good climbers, such as squirrels, won't be thwarted by a fence. Cover prized plants with a floating row cover before they discover them or use smell-based repellent sprays. Just be sure to repeat the sprays as the plant grows.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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