When it comes to protecting gardens and orchards from hungry deer, welded wire fencing is my first choice. It’s more expensive than some other options (plastic deer fence can be a workable alternative for enclosing large areas at a friendlier price point). But the durability and largely impenetrable defense it offers is highly appealing.
About Welded Wire
I’ve used a lot of welded wire through the years. I’ve enclosed my garden and protected individual fruit trees with it. And I’ve installed the fencing along the front of my orchard to provide an extra-secure and tidy barrier across the previously wide-open entrance to the orchard field.
Along the way, I’ve come to realize welded wire has a significant quirk that can make tidy installation tricky. It doesn’t stretch. It doesn’t compress very well either. This means welded wire struggles to adapt to the nuances of undulating ground.
The Trouble with Uneven Ground
Let me give you an example. My garden is planted on mostly flat ground. Installing welded wire is generally a breeze.
I can place the bottom of the fencing at ground level and roll out the wire without issue around most of the perimeter of the garden.
But at one corner of the garden, the ground slopes off meaningfully. Installing welded wire here is difficult. Since welded wire doesn’t stretch, it can’t easily change angles to travel uphill or downhill. If you try, the welded wire will compress inward or outward instead.
This can create a potentially significant bulge in the otherwise smooth wire fence.
Bulges are unsightly on a crisp and tidy fence. But they also make it harder to install the welded wire tightly to its supporting posts. Whenever possible, I avoid letting these bulges get started. This means installing the welded wire so it doesn’t have to travel along sloping ground.
There are several ways you can pull this off. If slopes are mild, you might consider leveling the ground along your fence line. Or you could use a spade to open a narrow channel through sections of high ground. Through these, you can run the bottom of the welded wire to keep it level.
On the other hand, you could install the fencing to match the highest point of elevation and maintain that level throughout. This is the approach I used successfully with my orchard fence.
It does leave gaps between the bottom of the fence and sections of lower ground. But I simply cut custom pieces to fit the gaps (sloping their bottoms as necessary). This gives a tidy appearance.
For steeper slopes, you could consider terracing the ground and cutting the fencing into short sections to match the widths of the terraces. This allows you to raise or drop the height of the welded wire fence in steps while keeping each individual section level and straight.
The results can be impressive, though terracing slopes is no small effort.
Tight (but Not so Tidy)
Another way to compensate for slopes (if the slopes are reasonably long and gentle)? Cut sections slightly longer than the length of each slope. Install them with their bottoms flush against the ground, overlapping as necessary to eliminate gaps at the cut points.
This isn’t the tidiest look (and the top of the fence will rise and fall with the changes in elevation). But it can make for a tighter fence than one with bulges.
Evaluate Your Route
Evaluating the route your fence will follow before you begin construction is a smart move. You can analyze the severity of the slopes, plan which solutions will work best, and (if possible) reroute to avoid the worst obstacles.
A combination of preplanning and mixing solutions can give you lots of options for installing a clean, sturdy and effective welded wire fence that will run straight and true without bulges or weak points.