Garden Diary - July 2009

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Tuesday, 14 July, 2009
Fence & Fedge

I get these ideas, these concepts. In my mind they seem attractive, reasonably simple to accomplish, and moderate in price. Then I present them to the engineering half of this team and discover A) it's not that simple, B) it's going to cost more than a pittance, and C) he has projects of his own that he finds far more interesting. Eventually, some of my sugarplum visions do actually come to fruition. Like the fence.


I bought several white plastic lattice panels so long ago I'm not even sure what project they were for. Whatever it was, it didn't happen. The panels were getting deformed, so I hung them on the back wall of my toolshed, where they stayed for a few years. Meanwhile, in the woods, across the drainage creek, and at the back of the section I call Magnolia Way (having planted half a dozen star magnolias there, also a few years ago) there was a sort of fence. It was made of several 7-foot and 5-foot tall green metal fence posts, with plastic slatted roll-up shades hung sideways so the slats were vertical. Looked O.K. - until the UV in the sunlight sort of rotted the plastic slats and things began to fall apart.

Simple, I thought. I'll take down the yucky rotting plastic blinds and we'll put up the plastic lattice. Sounds good, doesn't it? Presented with the idea, the two of us went down to Magnolia Way and looked at what was there. Then went back up the driveway where I managed to excavate a lattice panel section from behind the sheetrock buckets, very large plastic pots, two plastic garbage cans stored there for the summer that cover the hardy banana in winter - well, you get the idea. Measure. Discuss.

I was informed that the existing metal fence posts were the wrong size. Vagaries of fate. Since what I had were 7-foot and 5-foot tall, what were needed were 6-foot tall posts. And, of course, the existing ones would have to be removed. So I yanked and dug and muttered and got all except one out of the ground. And will work on it later in the summer. And went off to buy four 6-foot green metal fence posts.

I do own a post driver. That's a metal tube with two handles and I guess concrete filling part of it. Fit the open end over a post, whang it down, and the post starts moving into the ground. Beats beating on it with a sledgehammer. Of course, the 6-foot posts are just that marginally taller / I cannot lift the post driver high enough so Paul got that added to his to-do list for the project. Set one post. Measure. Set second post. Use clamps to hold lattice to posts. Drill hole to line up with existing hole in fence post. Slip washer on bolt, fit bolt through holes, place second washer, add nut, tighten. Repeat. Several times, as each post receives 4 bolts to hold lattice panel. Next post. Measure out 8 feet for next panel and repeat clamping, drilling, bolting. Fortunately I decided on three lattice panels. Could have been more . . . .

I think the result of the project is a pleasingly attractive fence that's a good background for the garden.


Then there's the fedge. A number of years ago when I accompanied a tour to Ireland as horticultural guide I learned that fedge is a term used for a fence + hedge. Clever concept, it uses a vine covered fence in place of a hedge as a space divider. Narrower than a hedge, quick screening, delightful idea. I kept that concept tucked away in my mind for possible future application, and this summer its time had come.

The falling apart and rotting plastic shade-as-fence had another section needing replacement. Only this simple fedge took shopping at three stores, hours of my time for painting, and a couple of hours of our time to install. First was removal of collapsing shades. That was easy. I decided to use green, plastic coated wire fencing. Since I wanted to add some rigidity to the structure I envisioned small diameter PVC pipe attached horizontally to the posts, spanning the gaps. Didn't want them glaringly white. So I parked my car outdoors for a couple of days while I used the garage bay as a paint shop: first primer, then forest green enamel.

Turns out the fencing doesn't come in 6 foot widths. I had to buy a 50-foot roll of 3-foot wide wire, which was, fortunately, sufficient for the distance to be covered.

Something was needed to hold the fencing to the posts. Natürlich my thought that I'd just buy some pressure treated boards was not as simple as it seemed. Boards thin enough for what I wanted were too wide and Paul had to trim them down on his table saw. And even though pressure treated I thought it prudent to apply wood preservative to all surfaces, especially the cut edges and ends.

It's installed, it looks good, and will look even better when the Parthenocissus quinquefolia 'Variegata',
white variegated Virginia creeper I planted takes off and covers my fedge. So nice to see ideas made real.

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