Sunday, September 23

New Fence!

I really want to make this a post. You know, thoughtful words about the results of fencing in your gardens. Maybe some griping about how if you hate the very idea of using treated lumber and/or chain link in your yard--and cannot afford anything cool and sustainable like bamboo stockade (do they make that?)--your choices for fencing are very limited.

But frankly, I am "one whupped puppy," as the saying goes. Brian dug all 16 of the holes by hand with the help of Dad's old post hole digger. Mom and I mixed most of the cement in the wheelbarrow that I trashpicked from a guy down the street this spring, and I shoveled it into most of the holes while Dad made sure the posts were level and in line.

Dad and I handled the first 8 or 9 panels, with Mom making sure we were level, and then Brian took over my job when he finished digging the holes. (He encountered many rocks, and even a surprise brick embedded about 6 inches underground, so that was quite a task.)

These pictures were taken while there was still some light on the back half of the longest fence side, but before we finished up. After the picture, the posts were all topped off at the same height and we worked on cleaning up our mess.

I will probably stain my side of the fence eventually, but it all should sit and "cure" for a while before that happens. That's a good thing, as I doubt that my back could take much more work! But tomorrow, we have one more project to complete: We need to build a gate out of fence panels (because I'm a pain in the butt and want it all to match, dammit) and hang it.

Sounds like fun, no? Well, it could be worse... without my Dad, and his general expertise, and all of his fun toys (who knew that they made cordless circular saws?) we would probably still be trying to figure out where the fence posts should actually go, and what to do first. It always helps to have a good foreman--somehow, I was lucky enough to be born to one!


Anonymous said...

Your new fence looks terrific, and I'm impressed that you and your family built it yourselves.

Having grown up in the southeast, land of huge yards with maybe a chain-link fence on the perimeter, it was a challenge for me to get used to the small yards of the southwest, each boxed in by 6-foot board fences. However, the small yards have convinced me of the necessity for a privacy fence of some kind. Otherwise, you'd be staring at your neighbors all the time, and who wants that?

kris said...

Big project - very nice of your parents to help - and fun tools always make the job go smoother!! It looks really nice.

We have an ancient wire fence down two sides of our property and iron fencing that my hubby made on the other two sides. Not much privacy, but I'm into rusted iron, so it all pulls together nicely. We did a ton of hole digging to put in the iron fence - so I know what your day was like!

Ki said...

Wow, what a big project...well done! When we had our fence replaced at our previous townhome I was surprised that the posts were only held up by gravel. I was skeptical that that was enough and questioned the fence guy if pouring concrete wasn't advisable. He said gravel was preferred because it allowed water to drain instead of keeping moisture next to the wood post, eventually rotting them and the gravel was enough to keep the fence upright. Our old fence posts originally set in concrete lasted about 15 years so I don't know if his claim was accurate. The gravel alone seemed to hold up the fence just fine. Are you still going to work at the garden center now that you have your fence?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! It's a beautiful fence and will surely be worth every minute you put into its creation. Plus, that sort of enclosure gives your yard the "secret garden" effect, even with close neighbors. Enjoy!

Annie in Austin said...

Now you not only have a great new fence, Kim, but further proof how much your parents love you ;-]

We never had a privacy fence until we bought this house 3 years ago - it makes an enormous difference to what one can do in the garden, because you own the perimeter.

Have fun!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

kate said...

There's nothing quite like having a new fence. It sounds like you had a good time with the fence building - a true family effort.

When I had my back fence moved and re-built, I used to come out and just admire it. I still do... it brings joy. I like the idea of having more privacy too!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Congradulations on the new fence! It looks great. I prefer gardens that are enclosed with fences. Replacing our fencing is still on the to-do list. There's nothing like the feeling of having finished a big project. You're so lucky to have your dad's help.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

I don't know what it is but if you do a lot of digging you always find at least one brick!

We don't use concrete in the fence posts anymore, either. I think that depends on your soil conditions. I am sure you will be fine.

Nice to see it was a family affair. That wouldn't work here, too many experts ;-)

Melissa said...

I have tendency to wander around my garden in my nightgown - so I like having a fence. :)

My husband is from SoCal and has always had a fenced yard and really, really prefers fences.

Consider it the frame to your canvas.

Anonymous said...


It looks great. Really great. I'm not sure why I'm so happy about this but I am. I know you've been thinking about this for a long time.

Well done.


Connie said...

Great looking fence! Nice work.

Sweet Home and Garden Carolina said...

You've saved yourself a tidy sum, my dear and, you know it's done right when your Daddy and you and hubby do the work.

I believe it was Carl Sandburg that declared " Good fences make good neighbors . "

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Good job! I feel your pain, my husband, son and I put up a fence just like yours, 270 feet of it to be exact. Are you going to plant the length of the fence?

Anonymous said...

Kim: Everyone needs and Equipment Manager/Foreman! Hot tub time! Or, maybe Margaritas! Looks great and is that blue plumbago I spy? Love that plant! I'll bet you slept well last night!

Carol Michel said...

I second what everyone else wrote, your fence looks great. And it is wonderful that it was a family project, not all families get along well enough to build fences together.

I'm sure you will enjoy the fence and how it defines your gardens.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

Congrats on the fence!! I know you worked hard for it, both in the saving for it and the installation, and I am so happy for you! There is nothing like the sense of enclosure a good fence gives your yard. It looks great. Hmm. Maybe you and your family can start a side business as fence installers! ;-)

Gina said...

hi kim - i can't tell you how impressed I am that you guys did this yourself! it really looks awesome! we had our fence installed the first summer after moving to this house and we use to just stand in the backyard and admire it. it was such a difference from the chain fence that was there before that we felt like we lived in a fortress or something. i alos really love the way plants look against the wood fence.

your family rocks!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much, everyone! I can't tell you how excited I am about this... the first thing I do in the morning is look out my bedroom window and check out the fence! lol.

I haven't had time for individual replies as we spent yesterday building a driveway gate out of two similar fence panels and also had to attach the post for one side of the gate to the cement and the house both. (Again, I was happy to have a good foreman who has both knowledge and fun tools like masonry bits!) More about that in a coming-soon post, though.

I drove in enough screws that my shoulders feel sore today. I obviously am not ready to go into the fence building business (although I got a kick out of some of you suggesting that!) but I am a little proud of myself for knowing how to properly drive in a nail and use a drill/screw gun. And the fact that we built it ourselves really makes me happy.

Phillip Oliver said...

I think fences are wonderful things. We have a split-rail type fence around the front lawn that we did ourselves and I'm dying to replace it with a picket fence. I don't know if I trust my carpentry skills enough to do it myself though.

David said...

Nice fence--I need to replace mine soon--reckon Mom and Dad want to do another one???

Anonymous said...

Stuff I've built out of pressure-treated turns a nice gray after a few years -- and gray is a great, underappreciated color in the garden.

But if I was in a small yard, I'd be real tempted to paint it up in some kind of wild, Latin American-inspired, Frida Kahlo color scheme.

Also, think of all the vines you can run up those walls with the help of a few hangers.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Craig, I like the weathered grey too (but where I live, near the salty air - that's about all we can have without staining every few months!). But I'm also for the wild color. I'm currently thinking about Moroccan blue trimwork against the front of my place.

it looks great.

Unknown said...

Pam/Digging, I know what you mean. Growing up in "the country" I rarely encountered fences--and certainly never any that actually enclosed a yard. It's been odd getting used to living "on top of your neighbor," but the fence is already helping me adjust. :)

Kris, your hubby made some iron fencing?! That is insanely cool... I'm going to have to scroll back through your blog to see if you've posted any pics of it!

Ki, we didn't fill the entire post hole with concrete. My ground is so well-draining that frankly I'm not too worried about anything holding moisture close to the posts... I did want the concrete in the bottom to "anchor" it, though, if that makes sense. As for the garden center, I really did enjoy myself there so I might go back on a more limited basis next spring. (Maybe just a few weeknights and one day out of the weekend, for example.)

Nan, thank you! I like the "secret garden" idea myself, and I'm already working on a few things to enhance that effect... :)

Annie, I already knew that! My parents have been commenting lately that they feel lucky to have "such great kids." I continue to tell them that we're not all that great, but that whatever good we are is pretty much all their fault. *grin* It is amazing how different the garden looks with the perimeter defined, that's for sure.

kate, thanks! Like you, I keep going outside just to look at it... I look out my window first thing in the morning and last thing before I go to bed, too, just to make sure it's really there! lol.

mr. mcgregor's daughter, thank you--I hope that your big task of replacing your fence goes as swimmingly as mine did. (Just a few little glitches here and there for mine, luckily!)

digital flower pictures, we almost had that trouble... my Mom for one was convinced that there was going to be a power struggle between Dad and I. *grin* Btw, now that you mention it I think I've found several bricks during various projects...

me, if I lived out in the country I would probably walk outside in all kinds of inappropriate clothing. As it is, your nightgown is probably nicer looking than some of the things I've been known to wear in the yard! (I figure they already think I'm crazy for planting and mulching at night, so why should I worry about what I wear, right?! lol.)

Hank, thank you... I think that you're so happy about this because you're a good guy and you know how happy I am about it, too. :)

Connie, thank you--both for the compliment and for stopping by!

carolyn gail, you aren't kidding! The best estimate I got three years ago for having this put up by someone else was triple what I paid for materials. Plus there's a certain extra satisfaction in knowing that you have some sweat and splinters of your own invested in it, you know?

iowa gardening woman, you must be another "unique" girl like my Mom and I apparently are... and I say that because at one point my (female) neighbor walked out and said, "God love you two girls--you wouldn't catch me out here hanging fence panels and slinging cement, that's for sure!" *grin* I am definitely going to plant the length of the fenct. I just have to incorporate some places for the dog to sniff through it without trampling something important...

layanee, I'm not a hot tub girl, but I could be persuaded to try a nice cold margarita! And yes, that is blue plumbago--good eye. I'm really loving that plant right now, and I can't believe how long it blooms.

Carol, thank you... and you're right about families. I feel lucky to have such a nice fence, but doubly lucky to have such a great family. :)

Colleen, LOL! Um, no professional fence installation jobs in our future, that's for sure. But I did tell Dad that if either of my brothers need help with a fence, he can sit in a lawn chair and direct us since I now know what he's talking about! (He said that sounds good, but... I'd believe it when I see it. He's too hands on for lawn chair directing.)

Gina, thank you! It's so funny that you mentioned the fortress feeling, because my boyfriend looked at the fence and commented that it looks enough like a proper stockade to make him very happy. (Fencing coach and military buff.) lol.

phillip, I bet you can! If nothing else you can buy the premade pickets and arrange them to your liking... heck, if we can do it, you can, too. :)

David, I was going to say "Definitely not!" But on second thought... heck, maybe they'd like to vacation in North Carolina for the price of a fence install! *grin*

Craig, the posts themselves are pressure treated, but the spruce isn't to my knowledge--I tried to stay away from treated lumber but had to cave in on the posts. (Funny you mention grey, though, because I do believe that I'm going to use grey semi-transparent stain on these fence panels. I'm trying to decide between Behr's "Boot Hill Grey" and "Pewter.") I can't wait to grow things up this fence, btw. The native honeysuckle that's been languising in its pot would probably love to be planted ASAP, and I have some fruit trees to espalier against the fence, too.

Kinda funny how I can't wait to cover up the fence now that I have it, isn't it?!

Pam, see my note to Craig above re: the grey. :) That said, I like the wild colors a lot, too. I've stained the posts for my grape arbor a nice deep red color to add something of winter interest to the back garden. And the pathways... well, that's another post, now that I think about it!

Shirley said...

Hi there, Kim

Gosh what interest you've had from this post! We all love to see any gardener work on something that makes a difference to their garden. I am delighted for you.

We have a hedge on two boundaries and fencing on the other two – we have a corner plot. Our front fence is in serious need of repair and I know I will be thrilled with that job too – when we find the time to do it! A garden with privacy is wonderful – enjoy it :-)

BTW I finally posted on my small silver border tonight – it isn’t a small post though lol.

Unknown said...

Shirl, I'm giggling at your warning... because let's face it, NONE of my own posts are particularly short! (I try, but "concise" always eludes me.) I envy you your hedges, as I would have chosen that route if it wouldn't have taken up so much of my actual land. :) Thanks for alerting me to the silver border post--I can't wait to go read it!

Kylee Baumle said...

Really nice, Kim! I'd be happy like you are, too. :-)

I'm fortunate in that I not only am the daughter of a real handyman and craftsman, but I'm married to one, too. And when the two of them get together, they can really do some amazing things!

Aren't we lucky!!

lisa said...

Wow Kim, that fence looks great! So much more satisfaction when you do it yourself. I LOVE my privacy fence-the blank canvas effect for gardening is very inspiring. Amazing how many trellises seem to "appear" after awhile, then tall background plants, etc...layering at its best! I can't wait to see what you do with it!

lisa said...

BTW...I finally put up a post for NIMG!

chuck b. said...

16 holes with a posthole digger! Sore pectorals! Sore deltoids! Or is he a total stud and all conditioned for that sort of thing? Posthole diggers are fun to use, but 16 holes...

Oy vey!

Unknown said...

Kylee, yes we are! :) (And we both have pretty cool Moms, too. *grin*)

Lisa, I can't wait to see what happens with it, either. I already have two climbers that I need to plant in front of this baby, but I don't want to train them on it yet because of the staining plans. I think that they both will just be happy to get in the ground for now, though!

chuck b., he is actually pretty in shape from fencing (the sport--he coaches it) but he was still pretty tired and sore. No complaining, though... I think that he was just too proud of himself to "ruin" it by whining.

And not to pat myself on the back too much, but it's probably also hard to complain about being sore to your girlfriend... when she was slinging 80 lb. bags of concrete herself, and her Mom was helping to shovel it into the holes. *grin*

Anonymous said...

You are much more adventurous/ambitious/insane than I am. I once put in a deck with 12 hand-dug holes with a post hole digger and swore I'd never do that again for as long as I live. I'm still sore, and that was 12 years ago.

I've made the mistake of staining before the woods had a season to weather a bit. It's not the end of the world, but its best to wait to see how the wood REALLY looks.

Ddi you ask for your neighbors to pay for half? What is the etiquette? My neighbors put up a wood fence and asked me to pay half. Didn't have the nerve to say no. Fortunately it's a nice tall wooden fence and we're both pleased with the outcome, but it could have gone another way...

Unknown said...

Hi Jim, thanks for stopping by! Your comment about the staining makes me feel much better... because I never did get around to staining the fence "later in the fall" and at this point it will have to wait until the spring.

The neighbor and I had talked about going halves on a fence, and I mentioned my plans. (I think that she had chain link in mind instead.) But once the whole project was underway I didn't mention anything about paying to her, and she didn't say anything to me... I kind of figured that if she did offer again, I might ask her just to keep up her side of the fence in regards to painting/staining and I'd be happy with that. I was going to put up a fence even before she moved in this spring and so I didn't really have expectations.

Anonymous said...

I think you handled that well. Always awkward. I guess to be a good neighbor you still have to offer to let her do anything she wants to her side of the fence.

I wonder what others have to say about fence construction etiquette. I see from your photos you have the inside "post" side facing you. I assume that's standard too. My yard is a mix of my fence and others' fences (all fortunately wood stockade of the same height). But I have both "post side" and "finish side" facing my yard, depending on who's fence it is.

Another mistake we made (my wife made) was to buy a stain paint rather than a true stain. She bought the paint just looking at the name of the color (to match what we had previously) without paying attention to the paint base. It was an actual paint and she had the fence & deck 75% painted by the time I got home from work. Being a paint, it didn't weather or wear like a stain, it chipped and looked ratty within a year and then had to be repainted every two years afterwards. Glad to sell that house & fence to new owners. We'll never make that mistake again.

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