What Height Should A Garden Fence Be? (5 Key Things To Know)


Building a garden fence can keep animal pests away from your vegetables or ornamentals.  It can also give you extra privacy and security – but keep in mind that there may be restrictions on the height.

So, what height should a garden fence be?  A garden fence should be 3 feet tall to keep rabbits out and 6 to 8 feet tall to deter deer (some deer can jump a fence up to 8 feet!) You may find that garden fence height is restricted by your country, state, or city (often to a height of 6 feet or less, depending on the material and location).

Of course, there are ways to extend the height of an existing fence.  However, you should always make sure that anything you do is following local rules so you don’t get fined.

In this article, we’ll talk about garden fence height and how tall it needs to be to keep out deer and rabbits.  We’ll also mention ways to make your existing garden fence a little taller.

Let’s get started.

Garden Fence Height

Garden fence height will depend on what type of creatures (like deer or rabbits) you are trying to keep out.

deer
You will need a taller garden fence to keep out deer than you would need for rabbits.

If you are not sure, you can check the type of plant damage to help you figure it out:

DeerRabbit
Plant
Damage
Ragged,
rough
appearance
Clean cut,
with sharp
edges.
Tree
Bark
Rubbed
away
(by bucks)
No
rubbing
Damage
Height
0 to
6 feet
0 to
2.5 feet
Surrounding
Plants
TrampledNot
trampled
This table summarizes what plant
damage looks like for deer and rabbits.

If you have deer damage to your plants, you will need a fence that is a little taller.

Garden Fence Height For Deer

Make your garden fence as tall as you can (6 feet or higher) for deer (keeping local zoning restrictions for your city in mind).  Many deer can jump quite high, so the taller the fence, the better.

Will A 4 Foot Fence Keep Deer Out?

A 4 foot fence is not enough to keep deer out.  Many deer, even younger ones, can jump a fence that is 4 feet tall.

deer jumping fence
Many deer can easily jump over a fence with a height of 4 feet or less.

A 4 foot fence might be better than nothing, but it won’t be much of a deterrent to hungry deer.   If you can, build a taller fence, or extend the height of your existing fence (more on this later).

If you cannot get a taller fence, then consider planting some “sacrificial” plants outside the fence.  That way, the deer can eat the plants outside the fence (instead of the ones in your garden!)

According to the Colorado State University Extension, the following are some plants that deer like to feed on:

  • Wild Geranium
  • Low Sunflower
  • Common Phlox
  • Strawberry
  • Tulips
  • Aspen
  • Apples
  • Roses
  • Wild Raspberry
cut flowers tulips
Deer like tulips, so consider planting some outside the garden fence to distract them from the vegetables and other plants in your garden.

On the other hand, if you want to plant things that deer rarely eat, check out this list from the Michigan State University Extension.  Some plants that are rarely damaged by deer include:

  • Onions
  • Plumbago
  • Yarrow
  • Lavender
  • Daffodils
  • Sage
  • Thyme
onion plants
Deer don’t like onions, and they rarely bother or damage them.

Will A 6 Foot Fence Keep Deer Out?

A 6 foot fence is not enough to keep all deer out. A 6-foot fence is better than a 4-foot fence, but hungry deer may still try to jump over it.

According to the University of Vermont Extension, white-tailed deer can jump up to 8 feet in the air, making a 6-foot fence no problem for them.  One suggestion is to slant the fence outward, which increases the distance the deer must jump.

jumping deer
Some deer (like white-tailed deer) can jump up to 8 feet, so a 6 foot fence might not be enough to keep them out.

You can also opt for a solid fence (like wood or plastic panels) instead of chain-link.  If deer cannot see to the other side of the fence, they may hesitate to jump over it.

Building a taller fence over 6 feet will help to keep deer out.  However, pay attention to local zoning regulations regarding fence heights above 6 feet (if you are unsure, check with your city or town).

garden gate fence
If your garden fence is not tall enough, it probably won’t do much to keep deer out.

As mentioned above, you can also plant “sacrificial” plants outside the garden fence.  That will give the deer something to chew on besides your vegetables.

Garden Fence Height For Rabbits

Make your garden fence 3 feet high to keep rabbits out.  According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a 2-foot fence is enough for cottontail rabbits, but you will need a 3-foot fence for jackrabbits.

Remember that in winter, snow can pile up, providing a way for rabbits to get over a fence and feed on plants.  Make the fence taller to account for this if you get lots of snowfall in the winter.

jackrabbit
A jackrabbit can get over a fence less than 3 feet tall. When snow piles up, they may be able to get over taller fences.

Although rabbits cannot jump as high as deer, they can still dig quite well.  If a rabbit cannot jump over a fence, he will probably try to dig underneath to bypass it.

To prevent this, build your fence out of chicken wire.  The holes in a standard chain-link fence may be small enough for little rabbits to get through.

If you already have a chain-link fence in place, no worries.  Just build a chicken-wire fence right up against the existing fence to keep rabbits out.

Bury the bottom part of the fence about 4 inches underground.  This will discourage digging by your rabbit friends.

cottontail rabbit
If a rabbit cannot jump a fence, he will try to dig underneath it to bypass your security measures!

You can also flare out the bottom of the fence and secure it to the ground to prevent digging.  To secure the fence, use stakes (or u-shaped landscape pins) to hold it in place and rocks to weight it down.

You can find some other ideas for discouraging rabbits from your garden in this article from North Dakota State University.

Garden Fence Height Rules

In general, you can build a fence that is 3 feet tall, which is enough to keep rabbits out.  However, garden fence height rules will vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Country
  • State
  • City or town
  • Fence Location (front or back yard)
  • Fence Material (stone, metal, wood, plastic)

The maximum garden fence height may depend on all of these factors, so check the local regulations for your specific case.

wooden fence
The maximum height for a fence depends on several factors, including country/state/city, fence location (front or back yard), and fence material (stone, wood, etc.)

For example, in many parts of the UK, you will need planning permission to build a fence with a height over 2 meters (about 6.6 feet).

In the U.S., some towns restrict fences to a height of 6 feet (in the back yard) or 3 to 4 feet (in the front yard).  In more densely populated areas, fence height may be restricted to 42 inches (3.5 feet) or even 36 inches (3 feet) for a stone wall.

If you need a taller garden fence to keep animals out of your vegetables, you might be out of luck in some cities.  However, if you are looking for privacy with your garden fence, you may have some other options.

city
In some cities, fence height is restricted to a maximum of 4 feet or even 3 feet tall in some areas.

One option is to build a berm (a mound of soil) on the ground where you want the fence.  Then, build a fence on top of the berm.

This can raise the effective height of the fence by 1 or 2 feet.  That might be all you need to get the privacy you are looking for.

If privacy alone is not enough, consider using noise-canceling plants to create a sound barrier out of your hedge.  Evergreen trees and shrubs, along with plants that have broad leaves and thick branches, will work well in a sound barrier.

Norfolk Island Pine
Consider evergreen trees and shrubs for a hedge that can give you both privacy and noise reduction benefits.

You can learn more about what plants make a good sound barrier here.

How Can I Increase The Height Of My Garden Fence?

There are several ways to increase the height of your garden fence.  If you cannot rebuild to make the fence taller, you can use garden fence height extenders, including:

  • Fence Toppers
  • Fence Post Extension Sleeves
  • Fence Post Extender Brackets
  • Extending Fence Height With A Trellis

Garden Fence Height Extenders

If you are looking for fence height extension ideas, there are lots of ways to do it.

Fence Toppers

A fence topper (or fence extension panel) is one way to make your fence taller.  To install a fence extension panel, you attach it at the top of an existing fence and secure it in place.

A fence topper serves several purposes, including:

  • Animal Pest Deterrent – a taller fence is more likely to keep animals out.  Not only is it harder to jump a taller fence, but animals may be wary of jumping into a garden they cannot see beforehand.
  • Privacy – a taller fence gives you more privacy from neighbors or from people and cars if you live near a road.
  • Plant Support – a taller fence provides a place for tall plants in your garden to climb.
  • Shade – a taller fence can provide more shade in your garden, especially if there are plants climbing up the fence.

You can find fence toppers made of wood, metal, or vinyl.  Often, it is a good idea to get fence toppers made from the same material as the original fence (for better appearance and easier maintenance).

Fence Post Extension Sleeves

A fence post extension sleeve makes your fence posts taller.  It goes over the top of a fence post and adds height.

With taller fence posts, you can change out an old fence (3 or 4 feet high) for a taller one (5 or 6 feet high).  You also have the option of using a lighter material (such as chicken wire) for the top part of the fence make it taller (to discourage deer from jumping over).

Fence Post Extender Brackets

A fence post extender bracket gives you a way to make fence posts taller without using a fence post extension sleeve.  For example, you can put another wooden post on top of an existing one, and then use fence post extender brackets to connect them (using nails or screws).

Make sure that the fence post extenders are attached securely.  You don’t want the top part of the fence to fall over in the wind.

Extending Fence Height With A Trellis

You also have the option of making your fence taller with a trellis.  A trellis has a lattice pattern and gives vining plants (such as cucumbers, squash, beans, etc.) something to climb up as they grow.

wood trellis
A trellis provides a way for plants to climb up as they grow taller.

A trellis can be made of bamboo, aluminum, or vinyl.  You can learn more about materials for trellises here.

Usually, you can easily find trellises that are 6 feet tall.  However, there are taller and shorter ones available as well.

You can find some interesting garden trellis ideas here.

Conclusion

Now you know what height a garden fence should be to keep out rabbits, deer, and other animals that want to eat out of your garden.  You also know about how fence height rules vary depending on where you live and what type of fence you have.

You can also get some ideas for practical garden projects to beautify your yard here.

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

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

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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