Will hardware cloth rust if I bury it?

Because pests and predators will often try to tunnel under a barrier to get to the chicken goodness on the other side, some coop designs, including The Garden Coop, call for burying the hardware cloth down about a foot or more on all sides. You might think the wire would rust faster down there because of the moisture, yet because it’s exposed to less oxygen in the ground, it actually tends to last even longer. I’ve read of hardware cloth being unearthed intact after 30 years in the ground. So this shouldn’t be a concern.


11 thoughts on “Will hardware cloth rust if I bury it?”

  1. Here’s a great website that gives a lot of information on this:
    From the second paragraph:
    The main factors that dictate the corrosivity of the soil are moisture content, pH level, and chlorides. These soil conditions are affected by additional characteristics such as aeration, temperature, resistivity, and texture or particle size. A general rule of thumb is galvanizing performs well in brown sandy soils, and not as well in gray, clay-like soils. This is because soil with larger particles wick moisture away from the surface more quickly so the galvanized piece has less exposure to moisture.

  2. Just started to re-dig the run today, the chicken wire I put in 4 years ago is totally disintegrated.
    Adding hardware cloth to the whole thing since a weasel took out our 10 birds last fall (they can apparently squeeze through 1″ chicken wire).
    Even covering the entire floor of the run a foot deep

  3. I am puzzled! about three years ago I made my coop with hardware cloth and this year i dug a trench to add water and electric and found that much of what was under ground was completely rusted out. I’m wondering what I can coat galvanized hardware cloth with that will make it last longer under ground. the two possible causes I can thing of are that perhaps my eve is not deep enough and rain runs directly onto where it goes into the ground. the other possible contributing factor is the high nutrient load of the deep litter approach I’m using. any idea what would be a good coating?

    • George, I think factors like the amount of oxygen in the soil, whether it gets moisture alternating with oxygen, and even the acidity of the soil can contribute to faster oxidation. It’s possible that the deep litter is keeping the mesh exposed to oxygen on one side while it gets moisture from the other side. I’m not sure what coating would be best to add protection to galvanized hardware cloth. Maybe others have some ideas?

  4. If hardware cloth lasts longer underground than above ground, then why isn’t it the same with chicken wire?

    I want to make gopher proof baskets for fruit tree, and it’s hard to find 3/4″ mesh hardware cloth in 100 ft rolls without paying the shipping costs which make it too expensive. Whereas chicken wire, and also stucco wire(better quality chicken wire) are easy find here in Los Angeles. So how can you make chicken wire last longer underground?

    • I don’t know. I can tell you that hardware cloth is a heavier-gauge, welded rather than twisted together, and galvanized (dipped in zinc) after the weld. Seems all of that factors into its longevity vs. chicken wire.

  5. I have been using chicken wire to mount my stagg horn ferns. It rusts to quickly. Does the cloth stainless mesh last longer. Thanks for any help you can give. –Chuck

    • Galvanized hardware cloth will last quite a bit longer than hexagonal (twisted-wire) chicken wire. Stainless steel hardware cloth should last even longer than galvanized.

  6. Thanks so much for the answers! I have hazelnut bushes that I’m keeping in a shrub size. They produce wonderfully but as soon as they’re ALMOST ripe enough to harvest, the squirrels have gotten them. I’m making a hardware cloth “cage” for the bushes by putting a trench around them, and setting the bottom of the hardware cloth into concrete there, with more soil above. With all that work, I’d have been very bummed if the hardware cloth rusted off! (Yes, I am putting h.cl. over the top.)


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