Does your garden need a fence? What you need to know

If you’re planning a garden, or have already planted one, you may be wondering whether or not to put up a fence. They can certainly be useful, but do you really need one? Is it worth the effort of installing a fence, or would your garden be better off without one? Alternatively, will your garden be healthier and happier with a fence? We’re here to lay out all the facts and help you decide whether a garden fence is right for you.

Benefits of garden fences

Garden fences are useful for a variety of reasons. Many gardeners put fences up to control pests. Fences with small gaps can keep most mammals out, which is great if you have pesky rabbits bothering your lettuce. Taller fences can help keep deer and some squirrels out as well, while fences with no gaps at all can even reduce the number of ground-dwelling insects getting into your garden.

Fences also offer support for vining plants. Although a full trellis is better for heavier plants, smaller vines can and will climb fences without issue. This is true of almost any style of fence made from any material, although it is easier for vines to climb fences with small gaps in them.

Another benefit of fencing that’s often overlooked is it can reduce the amount of sunlight delicate vegetables and flowers receive. Depending on the style of fence you choose, it can also offer your plants some protection from the wind.

Of course, fences also serve an aesthetic purpose. Fences come in an assortment of styles, materials, colors, and sizes, so there’s a fence for any garden. They break up large chunks of flat space easily and define your garden space. By defining the outer edge of your garden, it can also make it easier to care for your lawn. You won’t have to worry about accidentally mowing over your plants.

Purple flowers growing beside fence
Gagodesign/Shutterstock

Drawbacks of garden fences

On the other hand, fences can become an obstacle, especially in small spaces. If you’re already low on available space, then fences can make it harder to get around your garden. This is particularly true at the edges of your garden, where plants may be growing close to the fence.

If you plan on expanding your garden, fences can also hamper that. Some fences are relatively easy to move, but many others can be more difficult. If you enjoy the freedom of being able to adjust the size and shape of your garden, then fences might be an unwanted limitation for you.

While it’s true that fences make you less likely to mow over your garden, they do make it slightly more difficult to care for your lawn directly next to the fence. Not all lawn mowers can cut that close to an edge. Fences are also an additional structure to maintain. Normal upkeep in general is not difficult, but if you’re already feeling strained by your other commitments, then adding a fence to the mix may not help things.

There is also the issue of cost. Fencing in a small area is relatively inexpensive, especially if you choose wood or plastic. However, when fencing in a large area, the cost can soar quickly, depending on the material, style, and where the fencing was purchased.

Flower garden full of annual flowers
dvoevnore/Shutterstock

So what does that mean for you?

Now that we’ve established the facts of the case, it’s time to start the decision-making process. The first thing to do is sort through the lists of pros and cons and determine what does and doesn’t apply to you. For example, if you have a large space available then the concerns about fencing becoming an obstacle might be something you can ignore, while the issue of cost may be more pressing. In most cases, garden fences are not absolutely necessary, so it really comes down to personal taste and whether or not a fence will make your life easier.

Next, you need to decide what the most important factors are to you. For instance, if rabbits continuously eat your vegetables before you can harvest, then the pest control aspect may be much higher on your list than, say, the potential difficulties of lawn care.

From there, you’ll have to assess your priorities. If most of your list falls in the positive category, or if the top few items are positive, then you may be in the market for a new fence! If your list is predominantly negatives, then you should be just fine without one. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

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