I'm back at blogging and this first one is a real thriller! The weather is still pretty chilly and the water at the garden isn't turned on yet, so it is a good time to work on fences.
A layer of hardware cloth (smaller holes than chicken wire) buried 6 to 8 inches around the bottom of your fence can help deter voles and other burrowers. Last year I added hardware cloth to the long sides of my plot fence and this year I'm doing the short sides. Hardware cloth is somewhat expensive and trenching in fencing is a real pain in the rear, and back, and wrists, and neck.
You can also use hardware cloth to make individual cages for vulnerable plants like fruit trees. I'm happy to report that the voles did not get my berries or trees this winter, likely because of the wire cages I made.
Tips for dealing with a roll of hardware cloth
Wear gloves and long sleeves and pants if possible.
After removing the binding (usually wire) don't try to control the roll - just toss it on the ground to let it unwind.
Stand on the hardware cloth to bending it flat before trying to attach it to your fence, but remember it will never be perfect.
Longer rolls cost less, but shorter pieces are easier to deal with if your fence line is rocky or not quite level.
First dig the whole length of trench, then add the hardware cloth, then wire it in place while sitting on a stool. If you don't finish all the digging first, it is very hard to get back at it after you've been sitting there wiring and all your muscles have stiffened up.
How to add hardware cloth to an existing garden fence without an extra set of hands - use wire.
A lot of people like to use zip ties to join layers of fencing, but I prefer to use wire, usually the stuff that comes wrapped around a roll of fencing. I'm trying to limit the amount of plastic I introduce into the garden and zip ties are hard to use if you can't reach both sides of the fence (or don't have a someone on the other side to poke them back through).
Here's my method
Make a hook in one end of the wire. If you have a few layers to join that aren't flush against each other, make the hook longer. Don't skimp on length.
Push the hook through the layers of fencing to be joined. In my case, I have hardware cloth, chicken wire, and galvanized steel welded wire fencing to hold together.
Pull the hook back towards you, bringing the layers together.
Put a good bit of tension on the wire as you twist it together.
You can snip off the extra wire or weave it into your fence.
I managed to add 15 ft of hardware cloth today using this method, without gloves, and didn't lose a drop of blood!