Garden Fence


Misc. Projects / Friday, July 8th, 2016

We recently decided to section of a portion of our yard along an outside fence, in order to create a garden area that would keep the pets out. I considered many different options, but each had major drawbacks. Commercial garden fencing is expensive, and didn’t seem sturdy enough for what we wanted. Most are designed in short sections of 3 feet, and meant to simply be pushed in to the ground with integrated stakes.

On the other hand, building a wooden fence seemed too labor intensive. Especially the prospect of digging and setting 15 posts for a fence that only needed to be less than 2 feet high. A fence with T-posts and wire would be sturdy, practical and inexpensive, but wouldn’t be nearly as aesthetically pleasing as we were hoping for. After much debate, I hit upon the hybrid idea to build a short wooden fence using cedar pickets, but metal T-posts that could be driven rather than buried.

The posts were created by bolting cedar pickets to the face of metal T-posts.
The posts were created by bolting cedar pickets to the face of metal T-posts.

I created the posts by cutting 18″ lengths of cedar fence pickets, and bolting them to the face of 3′ long metal T-posts, using carriage bolts and nylon lock washers. These were easily driven in the ground using a small sledge hammer and a scrap block of hardwood to prevent damaging the posts as they were struck. The only difficult part was keeping them level and in a straight line. The secret was to set a string line, and to go slowly, stopping frequently to check for level so small adjustments could be made.

Setting posts along a string line.
Setting posts along a string line.

I spaced the posts 5′ apart, and used inexpensive 5′ cedar dog-eared pickets horizontally in order to minimize the amount of cutting that was needed. Once the posts were driven, the horizontal pickets were screwed to the back of the post pickets. I used a block of wood as a temporary spacer between the pickets as they were attached to ensure the gaps remained even. I also alternated a 6″ in wide picket between two 4″ wide pickets. That choice was purely for aesthetics, however.

Back of the fence sections.
Back of the fence sections.

Once the horizontal boards were attached, I went back and screwed vertical scraps of wood along the back side every 20″ to add stiffness. These were just 1-1/2″ wide boards ripped from leftover pickets. Once those were in place, the fence was quite sturdy. All in all, it took the better part of 1 day to complete approximately 60′ of fence and cost significantly less than a pre-made fence would have. Another advantage to this design is that it leaves no wood in contact with the ground, so it should easily last many years.

The completed fence.
The completed fence.