March 3rd, 2009

Garden Update: The Fence

“Do you know how much effort it will take a deer to jump over this fence?” Dad asked as he helped me stretch and staple the new wire fencing from post to post.

“None at all?” I replied.

“Less than that.”

A super-high deer proof fence is not going to work in our side yard (see previous mention of Wife Acceptance Factor). Despite this I feel a need to protect the garden with a small fence to keep out the family dog, the teenager’s friends who for some reason think it’s OK to turn their cars around in the yard, and the 3yo and her battery operated pint-sized jeep.

And besides, a fence says “Behold! A serious gardener lives here!”

The Posts:

I decided not to use chemically treated lumber around the garden and needed to build the fence on the cheap, so my wife and I decided on a typical Texas-styled cedar post fence.

I had planned on purchasing my posts from a local tree trimmer that sells posts in front of his business but had a very strange encounter with the owner. The encounter went something like this:

OK…Plan B. Cedar posts are readily available around Austin via Craigslist and I could have had the posts I needed delivered the next week for about $150. I was annoyed that I wasn’t making progress on the fence, however, and decided to go “post shopping” in my own back yard. The wooded area in our back yard has about 15 cedars and it was relatively easy to find enough straight limbs that we wouldn’t miss.

Pile of cedar posts

After a full afternoon of cutting and hauling scratchy cedar limbs in drizzling rain, the Craigslist offer looked pretty darn good.

Technical Side Note: When a Texan says “Cedar” post, he or she really means “Juniper”. This is an adapted (but non-native) tree that provides habitat for local wildlife but are water hogs, don’t play nice with other trees, and cause nasty allergies. In general, it’s considered a “trash” tree.

The Post Holes:

In preparation for installing the fence I ordered a Fiskars Post Hole Digger. This thing ROCKS, and while it doesn’t take the hard work out of hand-digging post holes, the quality and design is far beyond that of 30-year-old knuckle-busting post-hold digger I had in my garage.

post hole

I dug the holes about two feet deep and filled around the post with dirt (no concrete).

The Final Fence:

The fencing I used around the garden is four-foot wire mesh and comes in large rolls. You basically stretch it as tight as you can and staple it to the posts.

post hole

Fence progress on Sunday evening. I’ve since cut the posts to 6″ above the wire.

Now to find a way to keep the deer out…