Longevity of buried hardware cloth?

Just moved to a new house, and now have room for a garden. Bad news is that there is a huge mole problem, so I was thinking about trenching around the garden area and burying hardware cloth (metal screen with holes too small for the moles to get through). However, I'm worried about how fast it will rust out- I can't afford to re-trench every year or two. Soil condition is very moist.
Does anyone have experience with burying hardware cloth, and how long it takes before it starts rusting away?
Depending on what widths are available, I'd bury it as deep as possible to still leave about 9-12 inches above ground to keep them from just coming up and going over the top.
Thanks! Keith
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wrote:

Perhaps a year or two but can't say exactly (depends on what's in the soil, how damp, pH, etc), but you can get vinyl covered hardware cloth that will outlast plain hardware cloth. Also, you can protect plain hardware cloth with Rustoleum paint.
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is it constantly very moist, because that may mean the soil doesn't drain well? if so, you could plant your garden in raised bed boxes & put the hardware cloth on the bottoms of the boxes. easier than trenching.

a year or two. also, moles can tunnel up to 15' deep, so that's going to be some project. why don't you spend a couple years getting rid of the moles? if you have a large population, that means there is a good food supply. moles eat grubs. grubs eat the roots off your plants. get rid of the grubs & you've solved two problems. i suggest you apply either Milky Spore or BT for grubs. http://www.beyondpesticides.org/alternatives/factsheets/Grubs.pdf

a way to control moles above ground is to get a cat. some dogs will hunt moles. my Great Pyranees/Border Collie digs moles out of their tunnels & my barn cats catch a few moles every week. lee
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ker_01 wrote:

If you are _really_ committed to this idea then you could spend more and buy stainless steel hardware cloth rather than the typical galvanized. You won't find it at your local hardware store but it can be had. It won't be cheap but it should last for decades. Or you could make a different sort of effort and make permanent raised beds perhaps 18" (call it 45cm if you prefer) deep. A double layer of heavy-duty landscape cloth on the bottom will probably suffice to deter moles while allowing proper drainage.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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ker_01 wrote:

It depends on soil conditions but hardware cloth should last 3 - 5 years.
Long term you would be MUCH better off getting rid of your mole problem. The moles are only around because there is a good food source (likely grubs). Get rid of their feed source and they will find another home.
--
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)



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Thanks to all who responded. I will definitely work toward a grub-free lawn; the total property is over 2 acres and partly wooded, so I'll just focus on the open areas, definitely using organic solutions.
The yard is very wet (per one of the responses indicating that will rust the hardware cloth quickly); I think with proper placement I can avoid the garden area itself being too wet. The biggest reasons I wasn't looking at raised beds is (a) I want to avoid all treated lumber, but haven't found anything that is affordable as a good alternative that will last as long, and (b) for the vegetable area of the garden I want to be able to use my larger tiller to add compost every other year, and (c) the garden will have a temporary greenhouse on top because the winters get just a little too cold, and all the greenhouse books give a range of options, from freestanding pots (which lose a lot of heat quickly due to large surface area) to larger raised beds (medium heat loss) to what they say is the best option- planting directly in the ground for maximum heat retention (I'm actually considering putting in some subsoil drain pipe and a fan to capture heat in the soil during the spring/fall- cheap if I do all the labor myself).
I'm new to the area (Pacific Northwest), but all the neighbors say not to let the cat out (or any dog under 40 lbs) due to the coyote population and the eagles, which have a reputation for taking small domestic animals (there goes my idea of getting a chihuahua to rat out the moles).
Again, thank you all for your suggestions, and I'll continue to monitor for additional replys, questions, or suggestions.
Best, Keith
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Where in the PNW are you located? I've lived here all my life and gardened with both dogs and cats (outdoors) and unless you live in a pretty rural area, coyotes and eagles are a non-issue. Even in my pretty urban neighborhood you will see an occasional coyote but they are scavangers and shy away from any human activity. Wet in this area is also generally a rather temporary condition, restricted mostly to winter and spring - this is a recurring summer drought area, otherwise. And wet soil conditions - if attributed to heavy soils and poor drainage - will need to be properly addressed anyway before you will have much success with most aspects of gardening. This is one of the primary advantages of raised bed gardening, as it reduces the amount of drainage work and soil improvement necessary with in-ground planting. Building beds of wood is only one option, although treated wood on the market now is of little concern regarding toxic chemicals - using concrete blocks is a very economical method and they last indefinitely. Raised beds also serve to extend the growing season as the soil heats up faster in spring and will remain warm later into the fall season.
As to the moles, I wouldn't bother going to excessive effort to keep them at bay......certainly not the point of applying any kind of treatment to the soil, organic or not. Moles indicate a very healthy soil condition with a lot of biology and since the majority of the grubs, larvae and worms one finds in the NW are beneficial soil dwellers, you want to encourage them, not get rid of them. Moles also do not bother plants - they are carnivores - and the only plant destruction thay may create is some possible root disturbance as they hunt or construct their tunnels. They are actually great soil aerators and they can actually help to improve compacted, heavy soils or poor drainage. They can create some issues with lawns and tunnel openings, but that is pretty easily remedied just be collapsing the mounds back into the tunnels.
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ker_01 wrote:

There are untreated timbers that will last 30-40 years in the ground. In these parts such are used for fence posts etc and are not that expensive. I don't kow what is available where you are but a good timber merchant could tell you. This may not be an international system but here timber has grades of durability - what you want is grade 4 IIRC.
David
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Hardware cloth does little good unless used with a raised bed. Use hardware cloth to seal the very bottom of your raised bed garden. Hardware cloth doesn't last long at the point it's exposed because it's oxygen and water that accelerates rust, not just plain water. The totally buried hardware cloth can last like 20 years, however you really need to get the mole population down.... they feed on grubs and root crops.. and believe it or not moles can gnaw through metal. But still it's very difficult to rid established mole colonies, your best bet are a couple three female cats, Toms are not reliable hunters, they may but mostly they can't be bothered. Female felines hunt naturally even when well fed. A good mouser will annialate her own weight in rodents every day.
Mooch is the world's best mouser, many a mouse caught in her stare just rolled over and died from fright:
http://i39.tinypic.com/23ku2p0.jpg
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In article

I prefer the synthetic woven ground cloth on 12 foot wide rolls (e.g. the commercial quality stuff from places like QC supply = item number 360038)
Some of mine has been defending raised and non-raised beds, as well as providing an underlayment for stones that rest under my greenhouse benches both in and out of the greenhouse for more than 10 years.
The floor of my greenhouse is this fabric and we work on it every day. The only thing under it is plain old dirt.
YMMV
Doug
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When I lived in South Florida we buried galvanized hardware cloth all along the bottom of our new privacy fencing when we had it replaced in 1996. We cut strips, stapled it to the fencing, and buried about 10 inches of it to keep the Bufo toads from getting in. It was a tedious and time consuming process, but we only had to do it once and as the toads were poisonous to our dogs it was very much worth the trouble.
Mind you this was a hot and humid climate, but when we moved in 2007 the cloth was as good as new and showed no signs of deteriorating at all in the eleven years.
Good luck.
--
Toni
Hills of Kentucky
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