fences: what works best for garden plots?
I like the looks of all the different fences in our community garden, though many are worse for the wear after the winter. Since we will be adding a bunch of new plots, the question comes up of how to fence these.
- Leave it to each gardener
- Town fences the plots with standard fencing
- Town provides fence materials to gardeners
A fence to surround a 20 x 20 ft plot gets to be expensive. Five ft tall fencing costs at least $50 for a 50 ft roll at Home Depot. Posts and gate materials add a lot more $$. This cost can make large plots very expensive for new gardeners. And installing a fence is heavy work - too heavy for many would be gardeners.
We have about every vegetable eating critter you can imagine. Hundreds of rabbits, chipmunks, woodchucks. Moles and mice. Deer, wild turkeys, etc. Some critters dig, others climb, baby rabbits can fit through incredibly small holes in fences. I've seen gardeners get very disappointed and leave when their entire pea crop is eaten to the ground and they don't have the resources to erect a good fence.
From all the community gardens I've been to it appears there's most often a standardized, town-provided fence. Waltham Fields has chicken wire around each plot, Cambridge puts an external sturdy fence around the perimeter with a limited access gate then lets gardeners erect small internal fencing of their own choice. I've also heard of gardens where all fencing must be temporary and is removed each fall so the entire garden area can be tilled by large machinery in the spring.
Town provided options gives a consistent and organized appearance. But they have their disadvantages. By allowing each gardener to erect their own fencing, we have all sorts of variety. From 3 foot to 6 foot structures. Rusty to polished. Barricades that exclude any critter remotely considering theft to open posts that line the edges.
Our gardens have grass paths between each plot. These provide buffer zones between personalities. They remind me of some poem of Frost's. "Good wide paths make good plot neighbors." If someone grows 6 ft tall corn, sunflowers or tomatoes, who would want to be adjacent at the north side? But those grassy paths require maintenance. And the more fences, the more potential structures for invasives to grow on.
With these thoughts in mind, our Community Garden is planning to add a few additional garden plots. A few more spaces, a few more happy gardeners....