This is the Enemy!
Hera & Zeus
Don’t say “how cute.” They are the reason for this story. Labrador‐Australian
shepherd mix with a penchant for garden destruction. I recommended having
them listen to a band called “Youth in Asia” but Terrye would not hear of it.
You will have to use your imagination. There used to be a garden here. We have
pictures, but are too tired to find them. Fruits, veggies and other garden fare were
once happily farmed here. This is after THEY arrived…
Previous fences that did not pass the
“your fence is still weak” Labrador test.
Revenge would be ours!
The Marauders tore
through every planter
box, pulling up and eating
everything they could
and chili peppers)
Then they left us plenty of
“doggie nuggets” to show
that the area was
War was declared, but
first the dead had to be
Just a moment of silence…
For those plants that did not make it. Nearly three years
without a garden! On the up side, we did have a bumper
crop of weeds. We took care of that. The horror…
There were survivors…
We planted four trees and used chicken wire and metallic posts that were
bordered with wood that survived the onslaught and were never penetrated
by the dogs. This planted the idea that it could be done. It would just require
a bigger, better fence than anything we had done to date. The dream of the
Uber‐fence had begun…
Phase One: Dig Holes
This is a one‐man auger. That is a lie. One man,
if he is really burly, fresh from the joint, with
extra “yard muscle,” might be able to use this
alone. We don’t recommend that. We don’t
recommend this particular tool at all. We
suffered with it because we needed to get
close to the fence and the two man auger
would not work. Bruises for all my friends! It
took two of us to use it in the deadly clay soil
of our backyard.
We dug ten holes with this beast. Our
blisters had blisters at the end of the day.
The holes were on the average of 21 ‐23
inches deep and 8 inches wide.
Phase Two: Put down redwood 4x4 fence posts
We did not use concrete to fill those post holes, (seeing how we spent a few
days before, removing concrete blocks buried two feet deep out of the yard
from a previous foundation.)
Our enlightened method is to use road base. Dig hole, fill with road base,
plant post, crush base into hole, use water, and fill hole to finish. Sets well
and provides good support without the horror of mixing your own concrete.
Terrye learned this from her work with Habitat for Humanity.
A long view
of the yard
From this angle it is about forty
feet to the corner post. It took
about 8 hours to drop all 10 posts.
There was another hole that was
hand dug at the last moment due
to a tree root that was in the way. I
recommended removing the tree,
but was over‐ruled.
If you look carefully, you can see
our next fence project boarded up
Phase Three: Crossbeams
Douglas fir. A bit soft but relatively easy to use.
The objective was to create a frame to mount a strong wire mesh. The upper and
lower bars were 2x4s and a wire mesh would be stretched and stapled between the
posts. Then a second 1x2 would be screwed down over it to ensure the stability of the
mesh. Our Labradors can detect any weakness, so there must be none. (All that debris
on that deck was stuff we dug out of the yard before we could dig the post holes.)
Problem Corner: Tree in the way
This corner presented several problems. The distance between this corner and the
fence was over 10 feet. No other span was greater than 7.9 feet. This made the
distance between the posts and the strengths of the crossbeams to be questionable.
So we dug, by hand, an extra hole near the tree and reduced the distance between
the corner and the fence. The hole was filled with a concrete pier support and the
redwood post was screwed into the top of the support. We decided to use some
redwood lattice to help support this corner.
Anchoring in soft soil
We had to dig a much larger hole since we had to sink a concrete pier into the hole.
After digging a 18 inch deep hole that was over 12 inches wide, we placed road base
at the bottom of the hole for drainage and filled around the block for stability. We
then anchored the redwood post to the top of the pier with multiple screws. Since this
corner was weaker than the others we thought we would support it with lattice work
and extra wood if necessary. To make this more challenging there was a tool shed next
to the tree and the soil was very soft and loamy providing very little support.
The secret weapon was a sandwich of wire mesh
Strong Wire Mesh between a 1x2 bound to each post and to each
crossbar. This would allow no weak spots
anywhere along the fence line. Each 1x2 was
anchored by a 2.5 or 3 inch plastic‐coated screw.
We know that this mesh would work because we
have used it successfully around our fruit trees
using a makeshift post arrangement.
The extra wire is cut away with wire cutters across the top and the sides but leaves tiny
spurs at every cut point that will need to be filed away due to its amazing levels of
flesh‐rending sharpness. I suspect it will require a power tool to deal with the problem.
Phase four: Creating the Gates
Each gate is custom made. There are two gates, one on the short leg of the garden,
the other on the long leg. Each gate provides access to the garden closest to it. Each
gate is 44” wide. The longer leg will likely be used to allow access to wheel barrels and
other support tools. One gate is using 45 degree corners, the other uses a box cut. We
experimented with each to see which would be stronger over time. Each gate uses
three hinges and a simple latch to keep it closed. The gate can also be locked with a
padlock. With the addition of the gates the doggie apocalypse draws near.
Quality tools make the difference
Adjustable Miter Box Saw Squeezable C Clamps (4)
Two power drills (one for drilling, the
Plastic Coated Deck Screws – 2”, other for driving screws, rotary saw for
2.5”, 3” 3.5” lattice cutting, long extension cords (3)
Beauty and Strength in a finely varnished package!
This fence project took approximately 1week and
1 day to complete. The solid construction with
reinforcing wood overlays and wire mesh
screening has successfully repelled repeated
attempts by the dogs to enter the garden. It
should be able to resist any further attempts at
entry and we will build 2‐4 additional planter
boxes and see what we can grow this summer.