One of the many problems gardeners face is burrowing animals that ruin their well-tended gardens. A raised garden bed with hardware cloth is protected from this issue, but many people wonder what size they should use and how the cloth should be installed. Fortunately, we checked out this issue and compiled all the answers to your questions.
To protect raised garden beds from burrowing animals and other garden nuisances, you will need a 1/2" hardware cloth that can cover the entire space.
To attach it, you must lay down hardware cloth that is as long and wide as the raised garden bed. Secure the cloth on the ground using landscape staples and attach it to the sides of the raised bed using fencing staples.
Preventing the invasion of these little critters is essential to prevent newly planted seedlings and vegetables from getting eaten. Keep reading this post, because we will cover how to install a hardware cloth and the benefits of using one. We also researched the difference between chicken wire and hardware cloth, and if it's possible to use either in the garden.
What Size Hardware Cloth Do I Need For A Raised Bed?
You've probably seen them in your gardens—cute and adorable-looking rodents roaming around the garden, feasting on your vegetable beds.
Sure, they're great characters in your favorite fairytale, but they're not fun to deal with when it's your beloved plants that they are attacking.
There are many ways to eliminate these not-so-friendly critters from your garden. Cutting off their food supply is one of the best ways to prevent them from seeking shelter in your garden.
This means protecting the planting space for garden beds from critters accessing the plants themselves.
Most garden rodents are burrowers, so they like to get food by creating tunnels and paths underneath the ground. They tend to take advantage of the soil where the plants take root, bypassing the garden bed's raised walls.
If you have gophers and other rodents in your garden, you'll notice them nibbling away at your plants, starting from the roots and going to the top.
To prevent these rodents from eating your plants, you'll have to protect the plants by creating an impenetrable layer for the rodents to get through.
One of the best materials is hardware cloth—a wide piece of wire metal mesh that you can use to cover the garden bed's soil.
Different sizes are available on the market, but a 1/2-inch hardware cloth for a raised garden bed is the best. This size has holes wide enough for the roots to penetrate and hold onto the soil while the plant grows.
The holes are small enough for the rodents to chew through the roots and stems of the plants, making it hard for them to eat.
How To Attach Hardware Cloth To A Raised Bed?
Attaching a hardware cloth to a raised garden bed is simple. For gardeners starting their beds from scratch, it's important to measure the size of the garden bed.
If the space size is wider than the roll of hardware cloth, you need to overlap and secure the cloth to cover the entire bed.
This video illustrates how to attach the hardware cloth to a raised garden bed.
- 1/2-inch hardware cloth
- landscape staples
- heavy-duty cable ties
- fencing staples
- wire cutter
- compost mix and topsoil
1. Prepare the area
If you are starting the raised garden bed from scratch, you can prepare the site by measuring the area that you will be using.
A standard-sized garden bed measures about 4 feet wide, which makes it easier for you to take care of plants in the middle without having to step on the garden itself.
The bed can be as long as you want, depending on the space that you have.
2. Cover the space with hardware cloth
Once you have prepared the area for your garden bed, cut a length of hardware cloth as long and as wide as the space you've mapped out.
If you are planning to have walls for your raised beds, make sure to add about 6 inches of overlap so that you can attach it to the walls of the garden bed.
Lay the hardware cloth on top of the soil. Remember to line up the edges of the hardware cloth to the borders of the raised garden bed.
3. Secure overlapping hardware cloth
If the hardware cloth is too short for the space, don't worry. You simply need to overlap the hardware cloth so that it covers the entirety of the area.
Lay the first layer of hardware cloth on the ground. Place the second layer of cloth, ensuring that it overlaps the first layer you have laid down.
Using heavy-duty cable ties, secure the overlapping hardware cloth together.
Use the cable ties on several areas of the hardware cloth, so it doesn't shift when you add soil on top when building the raised garden bed.
You may cut the ends of the cable ties if you prefer, or you can leave them as is, since they will be buried under the soil.
4. Keep them in place
Now that you've fastened the hardware cloth on top of the soil, it is important to keep it in place. To do this, you'll simply need a few landscape staples.
Secure the hardware cloth to the ground by driving a landscape staple into all four corners of the mesh. Push the staples deep into the ground.
You can further secure the perimeter of the hardware cloth by using more staples on different sides of the mesh.
If you are adding a raised wall to the garden bed, you need to fold the overhang so that you can secure them to the inside walls.
Begin by folding the overhang of the hardware cloth and build the edging around it. When everything is in place, secure the folded overhang by securing it to the edging using fencing staples.
Similar to the landscape stapes, secure the corners by driving a staple down onto the raised walls of the garden bed. Use a hammer to secure them in place.
Use several fencing staples over the hardware cloth to hold on to the raised garden bed walls well.
To add irrigation to the garden bed, cut a small space in the middle of the hardware cloth using wire cutters. You can thread the garden hose through this hole so that it will water the plants automatically.
5. Fill the area with soil
The last step is to fill the raised garden with nutrient-rich soil. Start by piling quality compost mix over the hardware cloth you have installed.
Cover the compost with enriched topsoil that will encourage the healthy growth of your seedlings. The raised garden bed height can vary, depending on the plants or vegetables you'll be planting on them.
What Does Hardware Cloth Do?
Aside from protecting gardens and plants from pests and nuisance critters, hardware cloth is also used in various things. Gardeners benefit from hardware cloth because they can transform it for different uses in an instant.
For gardeners who like to plant seedlings and sprouts outdoors, a cloche is essential to protect them from curious wildlife. You can fashion a cloche out of hardware cloth easily to protect vulnerable plants like lettuce or strawberries growing in your garden.
Another great way to utilize hardware cloth is to use them as a makeshift trellis. The hardware cloth mesh is good for growing vines and other crawling plants in the garden.
Alternatively, you can turn the hardware cloth into arches in the garden to frame entryways and have a place for the vines to grow into.
Gabions are metal cages filled with large stones which you can use as a retaining wall edge or as a planter.
While you can buy premade gabions in your local hardware or garden store, you can also make them using hardware cloth.
It will take a little elbow grease and creativity, but you can fold several layers of hardware cloth to make your own gabion walls.
Wrapping Things Up
Some critters can be cute, but they can wreak havoc on your newly planted garden if you set it up without protection.
Don't forget to install a hardware cloth on your raised garden bed and prevent these critters from burrowing underneath. The roots of your plants will still thrive, and they'll even help secure the roots to the ground using the mesh cloth.
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