One of my projects recently was to protect the new plants with “critter control cages” made from 1/4-inch garden mesh.
I discovered this system for protecting plants while on vacation in Big Bear, California, at the Big Bear Community Gardens.
Robbie Bos, the Big Bear Valley Community Garden manager, gave me a tour of the gardens and personally recommended this simple and affordable system.
Robbie says that the gardens are subject to various critters including squirrels, rodents, and rabbits, and that the quarter-inch mesh keeps even the smallest mice out!
The gardeners also lay the mesh panels underneath the soil in the raised garden beds to keep gophers and moles from digging up into the garden.
If this system can work in “Critterville,” I’m confident it will protect the vegetable plants in the city.
For more information about best practices for rat and mouse barriers, this is a great article.
Build a Critter Control Cage- Materials
- 1/4-inch metal garden mesh rolls measuring at least 24 inches by 10 feet or 36 inches by up to 100-feet!
The best deals for metal mesh is online where you can order rolls of 100 feet for about $70 dollars.
- Metal wire for securing sides of critter box.
- Heavy duty scissors or wire cutters
- Landscape fabric pins to secure bottom of cage to soil
- Gloves- you will need them!
Unroll the 24-inch tall mesh and fold in four to create a box shape.
It’s best to work with a partner because it’s challenging to keep the mesh from rolling back into a roll.
Make the box large enough to place in a raised garden bed and tall and wide enough to allow for plants to grow without growing outside the box.
Secure the two ends of the mesh with wire to close the box.
Don’t allow any gaps in this union area so mice don’t squeeze through!
Stand the box up.
The box will be as large as the length of the metal roll.
Cut a top panel from a larger width panel using a single piece as a box cover.
Connect the top panel to bottom box frame on one side to create a hinge effect.
Place a heavy stone on the corners that were not secured with wire to keep closed.
Keeping these sides unsecured allows you to pull the cover up to reach the plants when you want to harvest.
I cut notches at all four bottom corners of the box frame in order to fold the bottom of the box 2 inches outward so it could be pinned down with landscape fabric pins.
This helps discourage rodents from digging as they’ll be scratching the mesh.
Make Other Shape Critter Control Plant Protectors!
Make a “dome” shaped protector for lower growing plants.
This low profile plant protector box is from one piece of mesh and does the job of keeping the rodents out.
Other Critter Control Solutions
There is no shortage of inventions that promise to solve the critter in the garden problem.
These solutions usually fall within these categories:
Motion-detecting water “scarecrows” fall into this category.
Though they do work, some persistent critters adapt and suffer through the soaking to reach the vegetable garden.
Have you used one that works consistently?
I’ve never used a trapping system.
The Squirrelinator system is a trapping system recommended to me by Robbie Bos who has used it and was singing its praises!
Relocating squirrels is too much work for me.
I like the “barrier” systems like the cage boxes I built better.
How about you?
As a nature lover, lethal methods – killing critters with chemicals, shooting or other lethal traps – are not my cup of tea.
Spraying chili powder is only good as long as it doesn’t rain!
I’m looking forward to success with my critter control cages at Home & Family!
I’ll keep you posted on how well it works.