Pros: Inexpensive, easy to install, relatively unobtrusive, temporary solutions
Cons: Dogs, rabbits and probably children eventually ignore this, vinyl weathers off and fence rusts quickly
In my never-ending attempt to keep two large dogs out of newly established gardens I’ve explored various temporary garden fences including the Folding Fence. It’s lightweight, easy to install and mostly unobtrusive, but does it deter dogs? Probably not!
The Folding Fence is 32-inches tall and fully extended it’s ten feet long. This is available in white or green, as well as shorter heights, and it folds flat into 17-inch sections. This is a lightweight wire-coated fence with a weatherproof vinyl finish. It’s a self-staking fence and each ten-foot section can hook together to create a somewhat more stable and longer fence. (I’ve had as many as four fences linked together around a raspberry patch.) The vertical wires are arched at the top to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance and the vertical end pieces of each 17-inch section are longer (eight inches) for staking the fence into the ground. If desired the lower horizontal run can be placed flush against the ground, a position that will provide the most stability. This is intended to be left out all year in all climates and is considered to be weatherproof with a vinyl coating.
The fence we had around the raspberries was literally consumed by the rapid growth of the raspberries. Over time the dogs realized they could knock the fence down, especially desirable when they needed to chase rabbits into the shelter of the raspberries. After a few successful chases they never let the fence slow them down although they generally came out with a few new cuts on their faces from the end pieces. The fence began to look shabby because the vinyl coating was breaking down in the summer heat and the winter cold. Trying to remove this from the raspberries was nearly impossible and I had to use rose-thorn gauntlet gloves and needle-nose pliers to disassemble the fence.
We had a green one around a second garden that served as a temporary fence. Lush bleeding hearts and ferns that we inherited with the house needed protecting, especially in the spring. The dogs were most interested in the soft bed that the combination of bleeding hearts and ferns offered. The fence, while surprisingly unobtrusive, had to be re-installed on a weekly basis. The dogs knocked it over simply because they would roll against it while rough housing, playing chase or tug-of-war. The vertical spaces between the wires are four inches in some places, seven in others, and they are insufficient for keeping rabbits or small dogs out. (Once I looked out and saw my blond lab running around with a section hooked over her muzzle and four feet of fence dragging behind her on both sides – she was looking guilty.) You can frame a raised garden bed or free-standing garden with these and cover it with netting to keep birds from harvesting crops (cherry tomatoes?). At one point I used additional staking as reinforcement – but that was REALLY unattractive.
The legs easily insert into organically rich soil. If your soil is hard clay, I recommend moistening it prior to installation. We also used these in Austin, Texas, where soil was nearly non-existent – it was a thin layer over limestone with small pockets of clay. In this case the fence line wasn’t all that smooth and ended up having a jagged appearance. Occasionally the somewhat flexible legs bent while I was installing this, but being wire they were easy enough to re-straighten.
I have a second set that is exposed, painted wire, no vinyl. When we moved from central Illinois to Houston I left the vinyl coated fence behind and only brought the wire fence. The vinyl coating, on both the one by the raspberries and the one protecting the fern and bleeding heart bed, chipped off and the wire rusted. The fence that was only wire has withstood the elements far better and currently shows no rust. My vinyl-covered fence essentially lasted through one summer and one winter and by the next spring it was rusting. I kept it up one more year because I had not resolved my thoughts about replacing it with something sturdier and definitely more attractive.
Consider this a temporary fence that merely creates a visual border. Use it for training children and pets, to protect newly established gardens, or to surround a raised bed and hold netting over fruiting plants to deter free-loading birds. It takes some effort to teach both children and pets about the boundaries, but it is possible. For a little bit more you can buy a sturdier, truly weatherproof fence that will last longer. Keep it up long enough and the handy person in your household will break down and install a real fence. Realize that this won’t hold up to the rough housing of large dogs nor will it keep small dogs out of the beds. As a temporary utilitarian fence that requires no construction skills and is easy to install, I will recommend this, but if you’re looking for an attractive long-term fence, look elsewhere.