How To Use Hardware Cloth (7 Uses You Haven’t Thought Of)

Hardware cloth is handy for lots of jobs around the house, but it also has uses in the garden. If you have some spare hardware cloth lying around, you can probably turn it into something helpful.

So, how can you use hardware cloth in the garden? You can use hardware cloth to build a trellis for plants to climb. You can also use hardware cloth to keep animals (like gophers, moles, deer, etc.) away from plants. Some other ideas are to build a soil sifter, a cage for animals (like chickens or rabbits), or a garden basket to carry your harvest.

Hardware cloth varies in terms of gauge (wire thickness) and mesh (size of holes between wires). Higher gauge means thinner wire (so a smaller gauge has thicker wires, and is stronger).

In this article, we’ll talk about 7 interesting uses of hardware cloth in the garden to help you protect plants or animals.

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How To Use Hardware Cloth (7 Uses)

Hardware cloth is basically a “cage in a sheet”. It is tough but flexible, so you can use it to make a cage of any shape or size to fit your needs.

chicken wire
Hardware cloth has lots of uses in the home and garden, including plant protection.

Hardware cloth can form a cage to protect plants or animals, but there are other uses as well. Below are 7 that you can try in the garden.

1. Prevent Gophers & Moles From Digging

If you have gophers or moles in your garden, you know how much trouble they can cause for your plants. Luckily, hardware cloth can help to keep them away.

Hardware cloth will discourage moles from digging if you place it properly.

There are a couple of ways you can use hardware cloth to protect plants.

Line The Bottom Of A Raised Bed

The first way is to use hardware cloth to line the floor of a bottomless raised bed. That way, moles and gophers will be discouraged from digging up into the raised bed from below.

When building a new raised bed, you can use nails or staples to attach the hardware cloth to the bottom of the bed. Then, you can install the bed where you want it.

raised bed image homepage
Put a layer of hardware cloth at the bottom of wooden raised beds to keep gophers from digging in from below.

The nails or staples will keep the hardware cloth in place so that gophers and moles cannot move it to gain access. When they encounter difficulty getting into the raised bed, they will probably just keep digging to find greener pastures.

Form An Underground Fence

The second way is to use hardware cloth to create an underground fence or cage. You can protect a single plant, a whole bed, or an entire row.

First, dig into the ground to make a trench (it will need to be deeper to protect deep-rooted plants). Next, stand the hardware cloth up, with one edge at the bottom of the trench.

Then, back fill the soil and press it down to hold the hardware cloth in place. It might also help to use metal poles or wooden stakes to help hold up a longer section of hardware cloth (for example, if you are surrounding an entire row).

hardware cloth 3 wire mesh
You can put up an “underground fence”, using hardware cloth to discourage digging animals.

Gophers can still dig up into the bed from below, but at least it will provide some deterrent to them digging right next to your plants. Moles usually eat non-plant food, so their damage to plants is usually as a result of their search for other food.

2. Create Plant Cages

If animals are eating the plants in your garden, a cage made from hardware cloth can help to protect them.

First, drive 3 or 4 stakes (or poles) into the ground around your plant (not too close – you don’t want to damage the roots). Next, wrap a length of hardware cloth around the stakes so that you have a complete cage around the plant.

Then, use twine (or some type of ties) to tie the hardware cloth to the stakes.

Use hardware cloth to make cages to protect plants. Stakes or poles can help to support the cage if needed.

You can combine this idea with the previous one too. Dig down a little bit before you place the hardware cloth around the stakes, then back fill the soil to provide extra support for the cage (and to discourage digging animals).

As an added bonus, cages also provide support as plants grow. For example, shorter tomato varieties (determinate) do well when grown in cages, which encourage them to grow straight up (instead of falling over and growing along the ground).

3. Protect Young Trees & Shrubs From Animals

After planting, young trees often need protection from large foraging animals (like bear or deer). They also need protection from smaller animals.

For example, mice and voles often nibble at the base of trees. If they keep at it, they will chew away bark, leaving the tree vulnerable to further damage or disease.

Mice often nibble at the base of trees, chewing away bark and leaving the tree vulnerable.

First, drive a few stakes (or poles) into the ground near the tree. Next, wrap hardware cloth around the outside of the stakes.

Then, attach the hardware cloth to the stakes with twine, zip ties, or other ties. Penn State University Extension also suggests short plastic tubes to cover the base of the tree for extra protection.

Once the tree is established, you can remove the cage to give them more space to grow.

4. Make A Soil Sifter

Another cool use of hardware cloth is to make a soil sifter. The best part is that you can make one of any size, depending on what you have available for hardware cloth.

soil sifter
You can use a piece of hardware cloth to make a soil sifter.

A soil sifter has two basic parts: (1) a metal screen attached to (2) a frame (usually wood or plastic). The metal screen lets fine soil particles through, but traps larger debris above (finer screen means a smoother soil mix with fewer large pieces of debris).

The screen is made of metal wire mesh with small holes (hardware cloth). The frame is usually made of wood, but plastic is another option. Use nails, screws, or staples to attach the screen to the frame.

Here are a few ways a soil sifter will help with gardening:

  • Removes debris from soil or compost – certain plants (like potatoes or carrots) will grow deformed when they encounter stones or dirt clumps in the soil. If you sift all of that out, your carrots are more likely to grow straight.
  • Loosens up dirt clumps – sometimes, soil will stick together to make big clumps. Run the soil through your sifter to loosen the soil and break up the clumps, giving you a nice, smooth mix.
  • Aerates soil – as you sift soil, it is exposed to air. Plants need air to breathe, so adding some to the soil when sifting will benefit them.
  • Harvest underground crops – often, some edible parts of the plant are underground (like the tuber of a potato or the root of a carrot, beet, etc.). When you plant potatoes in a container, you can just empty the contents into your soil sifter to separate the tubers from the soil!
potatoes soil
You can use a soil sifter to help harvest potatoes.

You can learn a lot more about how to make a soil sifter here.

5. Build A Cage For Chickens Or Rabbits

Instead of keeping animals out, you can use hardware cloth to keep animals in (and safe from predators like raccoons, coyotes, etc.)

You can use wood or metal to build a frame for the structure. Then, attach pieces of hardware cloth to the sides and top to make a cage for animals.

chicken wire
Hardware cloth is also useful for making cages to protect chickens or rabbits.

You might need to put hardware cloth on the bottom of the structure. Otherwise, some creatures will successfully dig their way into the cage.

6. Make A Garden Basket

You can use wood and hardware cloth to make a garden basket. It can be a small one to hold a few seed packets or tools, or it can be a large one to hold lots of vegetables.

Another option is to make some type of hanging basket. You can make a frame out of wood or plastic, attach the hardware cloth, and use twine or chain to hang the structure.

metal wire mesh hanging basket hardware cloth
You can also use hardware cloth to make a basket to harvest produce.

Put a pot inside and let plants hang down. Philodendron is a great houseplant for this – you can bring them outside in the spring/summer after the weather warms up enough.

You can also plant edible plants (like strawberries) in a hanging basket. Just remember that soil in hanging baskets dries out faster than soil in the ground.

7. Make A Trellis For Plants To Climb

Some plants love having a trellis to climb, including:

  • Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Peas
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Watermelons
Pea plants love to have a trellis or fence to climb on.

There are lots of ways to make your own trellis, and hardware cloth is one option. After you make a frame out of wood, metal, or plastic, you can attach hardware cloth with nails, screws, staples (or tie it with twine, twist ties, etc.)

You can make a vertical trellis, a lean-to trellis, or an A-frame trellis, depending on the space you have available. Usually, a height of 6 feet is ideal (and provides plenty of space for lots of climbing plants).

hardware cloth 4 wire mesh
Use hardware cloth to make a vertical, lean-to, or A-frame trellis.

You can learn about other materials to use for a trellis here.


Now you have some good ideas for garden projects to use up your leftover hardware cloth.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

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Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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