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Hardscaping 101: Hog Wire Fence

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Hardscaping 101: Hog Wire Fence

August 13, 2017

What I’ve noticed more and more lately (and admired) are hog wire panels: used for fences, gates, and trellises. A mainstay on ranches for decades, hog wire panels been discovered by homeowners and landscape designers as an affordable, low-profile solution for maintaining a wide-open view while keeping animals out. They even possess a certain elegance.

hog wire fence hydrangeas kettelkamp project

Above: A see-through hog wire gate welcomes guests to a Michigan summer house by Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp. Photograph courtesy of Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp.

What are hog wire panels?

Also called cattle or livestock panels, hog wire panels are made of steel rods welded at every intersection and galvanized with a zinc coating. Feed- and livestock-supply companies sell different styles with different rod gauges. You’ll want a heavy gauge for a longer-lasting fence that won’t sag.

hog wire fence with vines

Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

How do you construct a hog wire fence?

Four-foot-high hog wire panels, a common size, come in 16-foot lengths, which are usually cut in half to make 8-foot sections. For posts, my local landscape contractor recommends using 4-by-4-inch pressure-treated Douglas fir, set in concrete. The stringers (or rails) at the top and bottom of the fence could be 2-by-4-inch pressure-treated fir or redwood. You can either staple the hog panels to the posts, or sandwich the panels between 1-by-1-inch pieces of redwood to hide the ends of the wire.

Most homeowners in my Northern California town are concerned about keeping deer out of gardens, so they often add a 2-by-12-inch kickboard at the bottom to make the overall fence 6 feet high. You need at least that to keep deer out.

hog wire fence and garden gate

Above:  Hog wire fence and a see-through gate creates an sense of open space. Straight wire strung above the hog panels adds height to the fence. Photograph by Ellen Jenkins.

hog wire fence gate latch by nicole franzen

Above: Close-up shows 1-by-1-inch redwood strips hiding the sharp edges of the wire. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

Which plants grow well on a hog wire fence?

One of the nice things about a hog wire fence is that it acts as a trellis. Almost any vining plant will grow on hog wire: jasmine, clematis, potato vine, hardenbergia, and many more. Climbing roses can be tied against the wire. You’ll have a living fence in no time, if that’s what you want. The one vine that doesn’t do well on metal wire is ivy, because it uses suckers to climb.

gloriosa on a hog wire fence in brooklyn by marie viljoen

Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen. For more of Marie’s garden, see Rehab Diary: A Year in the Life of a Brooklyn Garden.

How much does a hog wire fence cost?

If you’re using wooden posts and rails, a hog wire fence is a little more expensive than chain-link, but costs less than a solid cedar fence. The panels come in 16-foot lengths and in heights ranging from 3 to 8 feet. For example, a 16-foot-long fence of 4-foot-high panels costs about $50 per linear foot in my area. If you’re doing the labor yourself, the fence can be quite inexpensive.

If you hire a landscaper or fencing contractor, installing a 6-foot-high wood-and-wire fence costs from $35 to $50 per running foot, depending on labor costs in your area. If you omit the 1-foot stringer at the bottom and install a 5-foot fence, the cost per running foot is about $10 less: from $25 to $40.

hog wire fence in garden by michelle slatalla

Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

Hog Wire Fence Recap

Pros:

  • Inexpensive–less than a wood fence
  • Durable and strong
  • Preserves the view
  • Flexible–can bend
  • Easy to install
  • Keeps out larger animals such as dogs and deer

 Cons:

  • Edges can be sharp, and must be covered with trim
  • Does not provide privacy
  • Does not deter smaller pests

Looking for a fence to repel deer? For more ideas, see A Deer-Proof Edible Garden, East Coast Edition and Elegant Deer Fencing in the Hamptons. And browse our Hardscaping 101 archives.

Finally, learn how to successfully design a fence for any landscape or garden project with our Hardscaping 101: Fences & Gates guide.

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