We often receive questions about having fences around school gardens. Most often teachers or parents ask us about fence because there is a concern for playing kids trampling plants or disturbing irrigation systems or a concern for vandals causing some damage to the garden. These are quite legitimate concerns but there are also some good reasons why a fence in a school garden may be a bad idea.

Sometimes a fenced in garden can seem like a good idea.
Here is a school we did that even had a fence on top.
The top fence can be a good idea to keep out critters,
but it’d make more sense to put some chicken wire over
individual boxes.

In some cases, a fenced in garden becomes more of a hassle to deal with rather than something to help keep the garden in shape. A fence with a lock can become a nuisance because there may only be a small number of keys. While one person may have the key someone else may want to spend time working on the garden. At some point for some people it may just become too much to deal with to organize obtaining the key for some small simple tasks. A tall fence can make the garden feel like it is caged in and separate from the rest of the campus. When that occurs the garden can often fall to the wayside and become either overgrown or a wasteland of dirt.

But after some time these fenced in gardens become forgotten.

This is the same school a few years later. You can’t even see the vegetable boxes anymore and it’s difficult to walk in.

Fences aren’t always a bad idea. Low fences to help indicate where it is appropriate to play or not play can be helpful to gardens.

High fences can even work if you have the right kind of dedication to your garden. Sometimes high fences are needed to keep out the wild bouncing balls. (Sometimes even a high fence can’t keep the occasional ball out as I experienced at Briggs.)

Briggs Elementary may have a high fence, but a dedicated class works in the garden at least once a week.

Fences don’t always need to be chain link though, a simple short wood fence to create a boundary also does the trick. If you have a theme a fence that relates to the theme can be used as well. For our grants, if you can provide the labor in volunteers, we can provide the materials and expertise.

This fence at Ranch View Elementary is a beautiful one that follows the theme of their garden. If I’m not mistaken, this was installed at the same time the garden was installed.

This afternoon I’ll be visiting with Redeemer to discuss fencing around their vegetable bed area. They’d like to create a sense of a boundary to remind folks to try to avoid playing in the area. Everyone agrees a low fence is the way to go, we’ll just need to decide how low we want to go and what kind of look they want to go with.