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Mesh Fencing Installation Basics - DIY - MOTHER EARTH NEWS
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Mesh Fencing Installation Basics

Learn the installation basics for mesh fencing that will either keep your small animals in; or will keep them out of your growing garden.

  • Welded (top) and woven (middle) wire fencing is what you are likely to find the most of, but over rolling terrain, knotted wire fencing (bottom) can be a great advantage due to its increased flexibility.
    Illustration by Melanie Powell
  • Small animal fencing, or what is commonly called “rabbit netting,” is really just a blend of 1-inch-mesh chicken netting on the bottom and 2-inch-mesh turkey netting on top.
    Illustration by Melanie Powell
  • This type of mesh fencing has a preformed apron on the bottom that is meant to be laid horizontally a few inches below ground to prevent animals from burrowing under the fence.
    Illustration by Melanie Powell
  • This heavy 10- or 12-gauge wire in 2-inch x 4-inch mesh is formed in a pattern that prevents horses, cows, sheep, and other hoofed animals from stepping through or using their hoofs to otherwise damage the fence.
    Illustration by Melanie Powell
  • The quicker type of mesh fencing installation comes with metal posts that have hooks that can be hammered closed after the fencing is slipped into place.
    Illustration by Melanie Powell
  • The best way to attach mesh fencing to wood posts and rails is with galvanized U-staples. I suggest using staples no smaller than 3/4 inch for this purpose.
    Illustration by Melanie Powell
  • Home improvement expert Jeff Beneke lays out the pros and cons of each fencing type and explains what your investment will be in "The Fence Bible."
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

Good neighbors make good fences and good fences require good planning, materials and construction. The Fence Bible (Storey Publishing, 2005) acts as a reference to construct any fence that might be right for your property, with an explanation of project options and detailed step-by-step instructions from fence-building and home-improvement expert Jeff Beneke. The following, describing the basics of mesh fencing installation, is excerpted from chapter five, “Metal Fences.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Fence Bible

Mesh Fencing Installation

In terms of sheer numbers of products — not to mention speed of installation and low cost — nothing beats metal mesh fencing. This is mass-produced fencing boiled down to its most elementary, functional essence. Determine exactly what you want the mesh fencing to keep in or out, then choose the appropriate product. While the on-hand selection may be small at any given store, rest assured that the manufacturer of that limited offering makes many variations on the theme. You should be able to special-order exactly what you need, or you may want to visit a more specialized retailer, such as a garden, landscaping, or agricultural supplier.

Wire mesh has yet to attain any type of architectural chic that I am aware of, although I have long ceased trying to forecast cultural trends. But mesh fencing can serve as a trellis for climbing vines, which can have a particularly wonderful landscaping effect without compromising the basic functionality of the fence.

The only time-consuming part of the installation involves setting posts, but even that chore can be minimized by using metal posts. The great advantage of metal posts is that they are simply driven into the ground — no holes to dig or concrete to prepare. Unfortunately, metal posts aren’t nearly as strong as buried wood posts. They are useful for getting a garden enclosure or a temporary fence up quickly, but they should not be used for any fencing that requires much tension or otherwise needs to resists much pressure (such as from heavy animals or adventurous kids).

Choosing the Right Mesh

Mesh fencing can be knotted, welded, or woven, depending on the function of the fence and the gauge of the metal used. Welded and woven fencing is what you are likely to find the most of, but over rolling terrain, knotted fencing can be a great advantage due to its increased flexibility. Some types of knotting create sharp edges, however, and may not be suitable for much contact with people or animals.



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