Fences may not necessarily make good neighbors, but they do offer privacy to your living space. Fences can act as a windbreak and provide a microclimate for some of your delicate plants right next to it. They are useful for keeping dogs and other pets out of your entertainment space. Or you could use one to demarcate an inner area in your garden from a larger outer area or to divide off a cut flower garden or a play area.
The uses of fences are many, and so are the requirements for building them. So when you think of making one, pick the type that meets your needs and resources best. What is common to all fences is the vertical support or posts needed to keep them in place. The height of the posts more or less determines the height of the fence. And the way you fix them into the ground decides the strength and stability of the whole structure.
Let’s look at a few easy, DIY fences:
1. Wattle fence
This rustic-looking fence has a history as old as the sword-wielding knights of the Middle Ages. And to make this one you need nothing much other than some pruners and a mallet by way of tools. Well, you could use a machete or even a sturdy pair of clippers in place of the sword.
We are using rebars as vertical posts and thin branches, or “wattle” to go between them. This is a great project to use up all those branches you get while pruning your trees and shrubs.
- Pre-cut rebars sections 3 feet long.
- Freshly cut, pliable, plant branches 4 feet or longer.
- Rebar caps.
Mark the location of the fence using a long cord or garden hose. It can be a straight line or a more organic shape. Using the mallet, drive half a foot of the rebars into the ground at intervals of 1 foot to 1 ½ feet. Fix the caps on the rebars.
Now start with thicker branches, weaving them in and out the rebars, pushing the branches down as far as they will go. After finishing the entire length to the height of the rebars, use thinner branches to fill in the gaps. You can tie the top branches to the posts with copper or GI wire to finish off. If you think colored plastic caps of the rebars spoil the looks, get metallic ones or paint them to match the color of the wattle.
2. Stacked log fence
Nothing can beat the visual appeal of this 100 percent natural, build-at-your-pace fence. While it offers plenty of spaces for the smaller wildlife to hide and make houses in the winter, the fence itself will age gracefully and naturally.
- Lots of logs pre-cut into 1 ½ feet or 2 feet sections.
- Four sturdy wooden stakes 3 feet long.
Mark the location of the fence, and fix two wooden stakes each, side by side and 1 foot apart, at the two ends of it. One-third of the length should go underground as they act as end pieces, keeping the logs from rolling off.
Stacking up the logs layer by layer is the next part. If you’re making a straight fence, use a large ply board as a guide to stack the logs against on the fair side. It will make the wall more uniform on that side. You can make this fence in a wavy, organic shape to great effect. You may have to use a smaller piece of board as a guide and build in smaller sections, though.
One advantage of this fence is that you can make it a long-term project if you want, building up layers gradually. The whole family can pitch in, each one contributing a bit to the project. The main drawback is the amount of real estate required, as the fence is quite bulky. The height is ideally limited to 2 feet for safety reasons.
3. Bamboo roll fence
Tall bamboo fences are stately affairs, but at any height they add an oriental charm to your garden. Bamboo is a cheap, yet eco-friendly and renewable building material with a long life. You get a great variety in bamboo, such as canes, poles and split poles, and they come in easy-to-use rolls. Being lightweight, it is a safe material to use for fences, especially in earthquake prone areas.
In this fence project, 4×4 inch wooden rails 6 feet long are used as fence posts. Eight-foot-long 2×4 inch wooden rails connect the posts at the top and the bottom. Four-feet high and 8-feet-long bamboo rolls will give a finished height slightly above 4 feet as a small gap is left at the bottom.
Digging the holes for the posts and fixing them takes a bit of work. One-third of the post should go into the ground, so you could rent out some heavy machinery such as a power auger to make it easy work. Line the hole with two inches of gravel and then keep the post on top of it. Nail wooden pieces on the sides to keep it straight and then pour quick-setting concrete all around and pack it in. Fix the posts 8 feet apart and let them set well.
Mark the positions of the top and bottom rails 6 inches away from the ends. Screw the rails to the sides of the post, checking to make sure they are level. Keep a 1-inch thick board below the bottom rail and unroll the bamboo roll on it with the outer edge of the roll flush with the side of the first post. Screw the roll on to the top and bottom rails at several places. Drilling holes in the bamboo pieces will make it easy for the screw to pass through. If a bit of bamboo roll is extra on the other end, remove a few poles by undoing the fastening to get a snug fit between the posts.
4. Plashed lattice fence
People are often discouraged from trying plashed fences or espalier fences as they take years to develop. But this is a quick, short-cut way to a living fence that can be established in a single season. The trick is to buy tall shrubs from a plant nursery. Sometimes they may have overgrown stocks they want to get rid of, and would gladly offer you a discount. You could try to root some really long cuttings from fail-proof plants, too.
- 10 crepe myrtle plants that have grown over 6-feet tall.
- 10 bamboo stakes 6-feet long.
- 2 metal stakes 6-feet long.
- A roll of heavy wire.
- An old T-shirt cut into several strips for ties.
Mark out a 20-foot line where you want the fence to be. Hammer the metal stakes into the ground at the two ends. Tie 3 lines across the length with the wire. The frame work is ready now, but it will be removed once the fence is stable.
Plant the shrubs 2 feet apart close to the wire. Select the strongest plants with two or more healthy branches for the ends of the fence. With small pieces of wire, attach the bamboo stake to the three wires stretched across the metal stakes in such a way that their bottoms barely touch the ground. Tie the strongest pliable stem of each plant to the stake at two or three places using the T-shirt ties. Note that the bamboo stakes are not driven into the ground. Give the plants 2-4 weeks to establish themselves.
When the shrubs seem to be growing again after the shock of transplantation, remove all the unattached branches from each plant, except from the ones at the two ends. Those should be allowed an extra branch each. If the remaining stems that are attached to the stakes have side branches, remove them, too.
Cut off the wires, attaching the first bamboo stake to the stretched wires. Now move it to and fro gently along with the branch attached to it to make it flexible. Bend it 45 degrees towards the other plants and tie the stake in that position with a piece of metal wire. Free up the next stake and stem the same way, but bend the stem 45 degrees in the opposite direction so that it touches the upright stem as well as the slating stem of the first plant. Tie these stems together at the places where they touch each other.
Repeat this until all stems, except one from the last plant, are bent at 45 degrees, alternating the direction of every other stem. Tie the stems together wherever they cross each other, taking care to arrange them slightly to get a diamond lattice pattern. Tie the stems to the stretched wires, too. Trim the tops of all the stems to level and allow side branching to start from there. If the plants at the end develop side branches that can complete the lattice pattern at the sides, incorporate them into the design.
Which DIY fences do you prefer? Share you tips in the section below: