As human habitation makes life more comfy and cozy for rodents, rabbits, woodchucks and raccoons, these pests are becoming increasingly destructive in our gardens. Many of these critters are clever at avoiding most traps, deterrents and baits. I have tried everything I could find, short of the dangerous poisons I am not comfortable using. Recently I have come across an electrified fence that uses the same non-lethal shock control commonly used for livestock but made in a smaller size for raccoons. This should be particularly helpful for around a pond — a magnet for raccoons that adore a meal of fresh fish. I am also experimenting to see if invading rats will find the non-lethal electrical zap sufficient to discourage them from feasting on my vegetable garden. The fence can also be helpful to protect delicate garden areas from over-zealous pets. The shock is unpleasant but harmless and dogs and cats quickly learn to pass up protected garden spots, the fencing functions much like the electric training collars used in pet training.
If any of these critters are damaging your garden, electrified raccoon fencing might be a good solution to encourage them to go elsewhere. We will all have to wait for more testing to find out how successful the electric fencing will be for my rodent rivals. At least the fencing is easy to install.
Measure out the perimeter of the area you want to enclose and gather together all your materials before you start. You will need the raccoon fencing, non-conductive posts (the kit I ordered came with too few posts to keep the fence from drooping between supports), wire cutters or clippers, underground wire, at least three feet of metal grounding post, an energizer (battery) which needs to be mounted in a weather-proof area, and gloves –if you don’t want your hands to be be bashed up like those of the guy in my photos. By the way, it is advisable to only use only materials that are designed for electric fences. They’ll work best and be easiest to use.
Unroll the fence and guide it around the area you’ve chosen. Push the supporting stakes into the soil every three to four feet if you can.
As I previously mentioned, I needed more stakes than I had, so I supplemented with plastic-coated green garden support sticks and held the netting in place with coated wire. You can cut the fencing into more than one piece to cover separate areas so long as you link any part of live wire to an exposed wire from the other piece to complete the electrical circuit.
Make sure all power to your power supply is shut off before installing the battery/energizer.
Hang the energizer where it will be protected from weather. Don’t skimp on power; the energizer needs to pack enough force to make your trouble-maker decide breaching the fence isn’t worth the effort. Choose an energizer with a minimum 1/4 joule rating so the minor contact from a weed or other growth doesn’t interrupt the effectiveness of the fence. Follow all installation directions carefully. Pay special attention to making sure you install sufficient ground rods to complete the circuit. For a smaller, home system use a single copper or galvanized ground rod at least ½ inch in diameter. Rod length is a minimum of three feet for a small energizer. Make sure it is deeply driven into the soil. The first ground rod ideally should be placed around ten feet from the energizer with additional rods sunk several feet apart if you have a larger area and energizer. Single long rods (six to eight feet) are better than multiple shorter lengths. Plan on roughly at least three feet of length per joule. You aren’t likely to use too much grounding; 90% of energizer problems stem from a lack of sufficient grounding.
Connect a length of insulated underground wire to the ground terminal on the energizer on one end, and clamp it to the ground rod(s) on the other end. Then attach a hook up wire to a terminal on the cut-off switch. (Whatever brand of energizer you buy should come with full, illustrated instructions.)
Test your energizer by turning on the electricity (there is usually some kind of indicator light to let you know the current is live) and measure the voltage with a meter or tester. Then test all around your fencing to make sure the voltage is not draining off anywhere along the full length of the fence. Contact with wood, stone or plants can form a short and interrupt your full coverage. If you find you can’t remove something that touches the live wires on the fence, you can insert a layer of inert material like vinyl (I occasionally use vinyl/plastic hardware cloth to both support parts of the fence that are prone to sagging, and to insulate it from undesirable contacts.)
Check your fencing regularly using a meter or tester to measure the voltage is both strong and consistent throughout. Also make regular inspections of the fence line to remove any vegetation that might grow or blow into contact with the live wires.
You can install an average backyard home system in a couple of hours. More extensive raccoon fencing will require more time and a larger energizer. The fence itself is very flexible so I’ve found it can slip down or droop over time or in windy conditions allowing live wires to make contact with the ground. So it is important to inspect your fence regularly. My fence is on a timer so it goes on after dark when most of these garden pillagers go on the offense. I have been testing the fence now for several months and raccoons have not bothered my pond at all, nor have the rabbits dined on any of my vegetables. (I don’t have woodchucks or other invaders in my area). Also, the few cabbages that were enticing the local rats have preserved unmolested in their protected area within the vegetable garden. Gardening season is still not in full swing, so we will have plenty of opportunities yet to test my new electric raccoon fencing on those resilient rats. But so far, it seems to be keeping my protected areas safe and sound from all my unwelcome invaders.
If you are interested in trying these materials in your own garden, I found my supplies at Electricfence.com.