May 10, 2011

Garden Fence & Pathways

*Apologies in advance.  I had every intention of capturing this process step by step, but my camera battery died and we couldn't find the charger until we were almost finished*

We wanted to be green, we tried to be thrifty, we tried reuse the fence posts leftover from the chain link fence.  It didn't work.  And we didn't figure out that it wasn't going to work until we installed 6 of them.  The idea was good in theory, but the execution was a disaster.  All of the fence posts had concrete at the base from when they were part of the big fence.  We buried them in the ground, concrete and all.  Then realized that one can't bury 6 inches of chicken wire (to keep out rabbits, chipmunks, and groundhogs) through concrete.  In our minds we thought we could bend the fencing around the concrete and still attach them to the posts, but it just wasn't working.

So we went back to Home Depot and picked up proper chicken wire/deer netting posts that have little fence hooks to grip and hold everything in place.  Installation was so much easier.  These posts could be shoved into the ground by hand or with a mallet instead of digging a giant hole.  And the fence hooks made the fences a cinch to put up.  If you ever have to install a garden fence, buy the proper posts!

The low fence is green vinyl coated chicken wire, which I mentioned before is to keep out the lower burrowing animals such as rabbits, chipmunks and groundhogs.  We used two different sizes of fence posts because we already had the shorter ones and the chicken wire needed more support on the long sides than every 12.5 feet.  We buried the fencing underground by digging out a 6" trench all the way around the garden, placing the fence in the trench and attaching it to the fence posts.  While we had the trench open, we also installed vinyl 4" black edging all the way around to help keep the grass from creeping in and provide an extra layer of protection. 

Once the chicken wire and edging was installed, we filled the trenches in with dirt, tamping everything down to create a compacted level surface.  From there we installed weed blocking fabric over all of pathways.  This water permeable fabric will let water drain away but block weeds for years to come.  Basically all you do is unroll the fabric to the length you want, cut it, and fold the extra fabric underneath for a clean edge.  You secure the fabric to the ground with inexpensive ground staples.  The fabric frays wherever you cut it, so leave extra fabric at the ends to fold underneath before stapling to keep everything together (this was a very helpful tip from my grandfather).  It was windy during our install, so having a partner to hold down the other end was necessary to keep everything from blowing away.  Most of the staples went in easily by hand, but we needed to use a mallet for a few.  We put staples in the corners and on the sides when needed, overall we probably used about 75 staples and 1.5 rolls of fabric.  I highly recommend putting down weed blocking fabric on pathways unless your favorite hobby is weeding  or you're a masochist.

We had 3 cubic yards of smooth rounded pea gravel delivered (in a pile next to the 5 cubic yards of dirt!) to cover the pathways.  We have a lot of water issues behind the garage and we wanted a pleasant and dry surface to walk on while gardening instead of the mud pit.  Also the gravel pathways look nice - my dream garden and backyard is straight out of my favorite gardening store Terrain (a concept nursery-shop-cafe owned by the same company as Anthropologie).  They use a lot of pea gravel on their pathways so I took a cue from them.  Of course they would use hand hewn fence posts made of reclaimed 200-year-old barn wood to hold up their fence, but we're not maniacs.

Hauling the pea gravel as a team wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and went a lot faster than we estimated (hooray for small victories!).  Of course the stone was really heavy and it took a lot of trips in the wheelbarrow and a lot of scoops with our shovels to cover the entire area with 2" of gravel, but it wasn't as bad as it sounds.

Once the stone was down, we installed the second fence - deer netting.  Deer are everywhere in our area and they will make quick work of any unprotected garden.  We installed this in about 5 minutes thanks to the hooks on the fence posts.

Up Next: Garden planting, our watering system and the custom garden gate that Mike built!
Note: The black plastic on the beds is for warming the soil and blocking weeds.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! AMAZING! I'm totally inspired to make my own garden - LOVE what you've done! - Amy