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I’ll never forget the summer morning when I went outside to find a nearly perfect tomato on the vine. After babying the tomato plant all season, I finally had my first viable fruit.
I planned a delicious salad for that afternoon, complete with a vine-ripened, still-warm-from-the-sun, freshly picked tomato. I made the salad with fresh veggies from my garden patch—greens, radishes, shredded carrots, and herbs—and then went out to pluck the gorgeous tomato. But I was too late.
My dog Mikey had gotten there first.
Why Dog-Proof Garden Fencing Is a Good Idea
I learned the hard way that garden twine is not an effective deterrent for a determined dog like Mikey, a black Lab and Springer Spaniel mix. I was annoyed at first, but then I just laughed.
I now know that dogs enjoy fresh tomatoes, but keeping a dog from eating your lunch is just one of the many good reasons to dog-proof your garden.
An unfenced garden is like a playground. Lots of dogs love to dig, and some dogs even eat dirt. One time I had a young Rottweiler with a case of the zoomies in my freshly planted and unfenced bean patch. I had just spent all afternoon prepping and planting those seeds and left for a few minutes to get a rake in the garage, and there she was, gleefully running through everything.
Even when nothing’s planted yet, fresh soil somehow attracts dogs like cats to a sandbox. A “no pooping” sign would come in handy if more dogs could read, but my pets never learned that particular trick. And while composted manure in the garden is great for plants, fresh dog (or cat) feces are a big “no” when it comes to gardens—and a stinky pain to get off your shoes, too.
You probably prefer that your dog doesn’t eat your vegetables before you do (as in the case of my tomato), but not all plants are safe for dogs to eat anyway. I sometimes use pet-friendly, humane dog and cat garden repellents around ornamental plants, particularly those my dog likes to chew on. Depending on the weather, however, these can be hit or miss.
When growing vegetables, you want a sure thing, and dog-proof garden fencing is the best, most reliable option.
As an added benefit, a well-constructed dog-proof garden fence can keep out other unwanted visitors such as rabbits, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and even your backyard chickens, who can decimate a garden with their pecking and scratching in no time flat. Of course, what you keep out depends on the fencing material, the animal, and whether they can climb the fence.
How To Make Dog-Proof Garden Fencing
If you want to protect your precious plants from your pack, dog-proof garden fencing is the way to go. I’ve learned that most dogs, regardless of breed, will respect a 24-inch barrier. If your dog is particularly active, athletic, or a giant breed, 30–36 inches should do it.
Here’s how to make a dog-proof fence at home.
1. Decide what material you want for your dog-proof garden fence.
This can be a roll of inexpensive chicken wire or a pre-fabricated wooden lattice panel. Framed trellis panels that are often used as tall supports for climbing vines make great fences when placed longways around a garden and supported with posts.
Wire mesh “rabbit guard” fencing is one of my favorites for protecting my garden. The wire mesh is more closely spaced at the bottom of the roll, so rabbits and other small garden-wreckers have a much harder time squeezing through.
Chicken wire, aka poultry netting, is made of thinner wire than other types of fencing. It’s easier to shape to meet your needs, but it can be frustrating to wrestle with if you want to protect a large area. My favorite use for chicken wire is to staple it to an existing wooden fencepost (or wire it to a metal one) to keep small animals from passing through.Shop on Amazon Shop on Amazon Shop on Amazon
2. Measure your garden length and width.
You’ll want to get support stakes or posts to hold a dog-proof fence up. Plan on one post every four feet of your garden, and get posts that are six to eight inches taller than your fence so they can be firmly set in the soil. Step in fiberglass posts are easy and inexpensive, or you can get metal posts or wooden stakes—wooden stakes are best if your fencing material is wood.Shop on Amazon Shop on Amazon Shop on Amazon
3. Collect the materials for your dog-proof garden fencing.
Be sure to pick up:
- Wire or lattice material
- Posts or stakes
- Fence clips or zip ties to attach the fence to the post; or, if using wood materials, wood screws
- Paint, if you’re using wooden lattice, or some surveyor’s flagging tape for wire (to help it be more visible to your dog)
If your soil is compacted or rocky, some crushed gravel will to help stabilize posts as well.Shop on Amazon Shop on Amazon
4. Install your dog-proof garden fencing.
At home, it’s time to get to work. Set the stakes/posts first. If your soil is very rocky, dig out the hole first (rather than trying to pound the stake in), set the post, then backfill with some medium-size crushed gravel.
Once the posts are set, unroll your fencing and begin attaching it to the posts (whether that’s with a staple gun, screws, nails, or another kind of fastener all depends on the materials you’ve chosen for your fence). It’s helpful to have an extra set of hands at this stage—someone to hold up the fencing and provide some tension as you attach it to the post.
Attach the fence firmly to the post—usually at the top of the fencing, the middle, and again at the bottom, pulling it as tight as possible between posts.
Once you’ve attached the fence to the posts, you’re ready to start planting!
Dog-Proof Garden Fencing Products
If you’re not the DIY type, you can buy ready-made fencing and dog-proofing products. This is often the more expensive route, and some effort may still be required for installation, but they are just as effective at keeping critters out of your garden and typically easier to set up.
For raised beds or smaller breeds, CritterGuard panels are quite nice. Or you can buy a kit to create a complete, no-dig enclosure, a setup that will be the envy of all your neighbors. Removable panels are nice for making fall cleanup and spring prep easier, but keeping the fence up year-round teaches your dog that the boundary is permanent.
Speaking of learning, part of dog-proof fencing is making sure your dog understands and respects the garden barrier. That includes no digging at the base of the fence and not marking the fence (for male dogs). This is where safe and natural garden repellent for pets comes in handy.Shop on Amazon Shop on Amazon Shop on Amazon
Dog-Proof Garden Fencing: Remember To Keep Safety First
When choosing a fence style, make sure there are no sharp edges or decorative spikes that could injure your dog. Also, be sure the fence is easy to see. A dark metal or even chicken wire can become “invisible” depending on what’s growing behind it, and a dog playing with her ball can run right into it by accident.
For a DIY chicken wire or wire mesh fence, weave some blue or yellow (the two colors dogs see best) surveyors tape along the top and middle of the fence. For picket fences, you can use blue or yellow paint to make sure your dog sees it.