by Alan Detwiler April 12, 2013
Electrified garden fence: Keeps out vegetable eating varmints:
Groundhogs, rabbits, and deer were eating the vegetable plants in my garden. I tried shooting the groundhogs and rabbits. That takes too much watching and waiting and it is not safe for neighbors whose property and houses are well within range of stay bullets. I tried filling in the holes of groundhog but instead of moving elsewhere they just kept on digging new holes.
Finally I got out an electric fence power unit that years ago was used to electrify a fence around a cattle pasture, plugged it in and tested it by shorting the hot output to the ground terminal post with the metal shank of shrew driver, being careful to hold on to the screwdrive by its plastic handle. As the screwdriver shank was pulled away, I could hear and see an electrical arc, over a sixteenth of an inch long stretching between the hot terminal and the srewdriver. After sitting for almost 30 years it still worked.
FI strung copper covered single strand telephone wire around the garden, twice. A wooden post was set at each corner of the garden. One run of wire was held about 2 feet off the ground, the other run was 5 or so inches off the ground. The upper strand was about at he height of a deer's nose. The lower strand about nose high for groundhogs and rabbits. The power unit was mounted on a pantry wall in the house. A plastic tube from a ball point pen body insulated the telephone wire where it run through a hole drilled through an exterior wall. Some used electric fence insulated, held the wire in place on a pole about twelve feet from the house. The rest of the fence insulators were put on the nearest corner post to secure the wire there. At the other 3 corner post, I improvised insulation by slitting black plastic 1/2 inch diameter polyethylene water pipe lenghthwise and forcing the slit tube onto the wire where it was otherwise contact each of the three corner posts. The lower wire sagged way too much to just leave it hang without touching the ground and shorting out. So used empty plastic detergent and bleach bottles to hold the lower strand off the ground. I tried a half-dozen or so ways to attach that lower wire to the plastic jugs. The easiest way was to cut through the upper end of the loop the formed the contrainer handle. The wire could then be push inside the handle loop.
I've used the fence for about 5 years now and it has done a very good job of protecting the garden. A couple of times a rabbit has gotten in, probably by just jumping over the lower wire. Once a groundhog got it but could not get back out. I found him in the garden hiding under squash leafs, apparently dazed by having being shocked by the fence. Without the fence, I likely would have either given up having a garden or tried to keep a dog to keep animals away. But that would mean the dog would have to be free roaming and that would inevitably cause problems with neighbors.
The fence power unit was made for large animals, cattle and horses. It is powerful enough to not short out easily when a few blades of grass grow up to touch it, usually the grass will be burned off by the high voltage current. A lower power unit would likely short out much more often. But the more powerful unit can be deadly to small animals such as racoons, oppossums, squirrel, and cats and small dogs.
Contributed by Alan Detwiler. Bio at
Words and phrases descriptive of the contents of this post: blackberry trellis, drought resistant blackberries, growing blackberries in dry weather