A good fence can turn a noisy, bright, busy, constantly changing place into a lovely sanctuary.
This is the view we shielded ourselves from, close neighbors and Market Street traffic:
It took 2 short mornings and 1 long day, and we spent only $240 for 27 feet (using mostly new materials, having spent most of our salvage materials on the chicken coop last summer).
(Harvesting wood in the forest would have been more ecological and saved money, and we seriously considered it, but this fence matches the existing fence, was much easier and quicker to build, and is more private than a rougher-material construction could ever be. In this neighborhood, it seemed the right choice.)
First, we followed standard fence-building procedure, marking the fence post line with stakes and string.
(And, yes, we’re building our fence right up to and nearly touching our neighbors’ house. Our houses were built before proper surveys, and our lot line had to be moved from under their house to the edge of their house. Today, their electrical box and even their most recent stucco job hang over our property!)
When all the posts were up and the concrete had cured a day or two, we put up the rails.
(The posts on either side of the corner are 4′ from the corner. The post in between is 1′ in from the hypotenuse of the right triangle.)
In the two sections of the front corner, we attached these scrap 2×8 pieces on top of the rails. It was a little tricky getting the curve drawn just right. I held the center of an imagined quarter-circle while Greg cast an arc in chalk across the 2×8’s, again and again til everything lined up just right.
When the 2×8’s were removed, cut, and replaced, the pickets (alternating 4″ and 6″ wide) went on smoothly and quickly.
A few hours of easy work later – we were done!
I have an affinity for the humble globe mallow, so we worked around this frail plant for three days! I’m so glad we did. It was in bloom, and they say that faeries especially detest the rudeness of making them move during flowering time. And since I began to respect that possibility, my garden has been happier and I feel even more loved and supported by it. So I took the job of digging that hole, right up to the edge of the plant, we were careful in our tasks near it, and it survived and now adds beauty!
Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, I had to do something different with the gravel, so I sorted out the whitest ones and scattered them in a rough arc around the large stones, then finished the section of earth with the mix which blends nicely with the neighbors’ gray gravel.
(The pickets are not as bowed as they appear. They’re bent because, inside the fence, as I explain next, I’m bracing the trees upright.)
Inside, we pruned the drought-hardy shrubs and two desert willows (one pink, one purple, the second an odd volunteer) and braced them to stand more upright, as they’d both been flagged hard by the winds. With the surrounding fence, they’re beautiful corner trees! (They were hardly noticeable before, as you can see in photo 2 above.)
Here’s the finished design in context: two matching curved corners, enclosing a driveway – which we think might become a new garden instead! – in which case, we’ll add ten more feet of fence and a gate. Not daunting at all!
Do you need a fence?
Don’t let mundane things delay you. I wish I’d built both fences years ago. They have made all the difference in our experience of this house! The energy of the yard is indescribably sweeter! It’s the like difference between how you feel in a parking lot or on a street versus how you feel in a park. The energy change is powerful!