Two fence posts in my garden fence were broken. The rust-resistant chickenwire had rusted. My dog, for no reason other than to sniff the compost pile, had jumped the fence dozens of times and, in doing so, had collapsed it in a number of places. The question was not whether I needed to fix the fence. The question was how best to fix it.

After a visit to the hardware store, I decided to start over from scratch. I bought fifty feet of plastic chicken wire and eight new posts. I needed about a dozen posts for the job, but thought I could alternate old posts with new ones. Home repairs never go as planned, but with new flexible fencing and easy-to-install posts, I couldn’t see where the problems were going to be. 

My first task was to construct a new gate using two-by-eights and the least damaged section of the old chicken wire. This went well. Secondly, I began to string new fencing around the perimeter of my raised beds. The materials, both the webbing and the posts, were floppier than I wanted, and the fence drooped. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but that did not mean I was going to reveal my ineptitude by making a lopsided fence. The whole reason behind the project was to make my garden look good, and in terms of attractiveness, a fence that gives the appearance of falling over is no better than a fence that is falling over. I needed to get the sag out.

Fortunately this was not my first fencing mishap. Years ago I’d put up a fence that was straight and sturdy, but the holes in the mesh were too big to keep rodents out. I discovered the flaw by witnessing a young rabbit charge the fence at full speed and shoot through it as if it wasn’t there. I tore the entire barrier down only days after erecting it and stuck the useless fencing in the back of my garage. Now I could take it out of storage and use it to support the new fence by adding a second layer. One layer would keep out the rabbits, and a second layer would keep the first layer from flopping over.

All was going smoothly until I was three quarters of the way around the garden. I pulled hard on the fencing to take out as much slack as possible, and two of the hexagons broke in my fingers. Only then did it occur to me that chicken wire made entirely of plastic was a bad idea. Its purpose was to keep chickens in, not keep rodents out. If I could snap the strands with my bare hands, a rabbit could gnaw through them in seconds.

Now I had a decision to make. I could either start over again with metal fencing or finish a fence that wouldn’t be rabbit-proof. Squirrels, birds, and bugs already feed off my garden (e.g., I haven’t picked a ripe strawberry in years), so how much would it matter if a few rabbits got in? And if I don’t care about the rabbits, I might not need a fence at all. 

Overall my new fence is a DIY fiasco, but I like the new gate.


Steven Simpson