A well-designed fence is like a beautiful picture frame for the garden. As a frame compliments a picture the fence should compliment the garden, while setting it off visually from the surrounding area. Depending on how the short, the garden fence It may also serve a functional purpose, perhaps keeping out small pets or acting as a trellis for rambling vines and perennials. Fences for small areas, like vegetable garden plots, should be relatively short and designed with gaps in the fence boards to form an unimposing border. Above all, the fence must be planned well before building commences.
Garden Fence Plans
Plans for garden fences can be found online for free. Libraries and bookstore provide many books that include garden fence plans. These blueprints can be followed to the letter or used simply as inspiration for developing customized plans. Fences along property lines are typically designed for privacy and security, but smaller, more transparent fences are best for cordoning off particular garden areas on the interior of a property. Picket fences are the most common for this application. With or without the pointed tops, these type of fences use thin vertical boards with spaces that allow plants to creep through and people to see in.
Planning the Fence on Paper
Graph paper rather than plain paper makes it easier to draw a scale model of the planned fence and work out the details before starting construction. This process is invaluable for determining the quantity of materials to purchase, as well. Start by measuring the dimensions of the area to be enclosed by the fence. Rectangular shapes are by far the easiest to build when working with wood, but angled sides can be incorporated, if dictated by the shape of the area. Choose a scale that allows the entire fence layout to fit on the sheet of graph paper.
For example, if the graph paper has 10 squares per inch and is an 8-1/2-by-11 sheet, a scale of 1 inch equals 10 feet will allow a fence plan for a garden area of up to 85 by 110 feet. A larger scale model can be made for a section view of one section of fence, showing how it will look when viewed from ground level. Finally, any details can also be sketched at this time, such as the exact shape and style of the pickets.
Designing a Short Garden Fence
A common height for a short picket fence bordering a garden is 3 feet. Using 1-by-3 lumber for the pickets is a suitable proportion for this size fence. Smaller fences can also be made, but the dimensions of the pickets should be reduced accordingly. For example, use 1-by-2 lumber for a 2-foot tall fence. White is the classic color for a picket fence, but there is nothing wrong with using another color if it better suits the aesthetic theme of the garden. Or, the wood can be left in its natural color, in which case pressure-treated lumber or rot-resistant woods such as cedar and redwood should be used. The tops of the pickets can be left pointed, leveled off or cut into a custom shape. Cutting spade-like forms, scallops or removing small triangles from the corners of the wood to make a "dog ear" picket are possible designs to consider.
Implementing the Plan
Posts will be necessary every 6 or 8 feet along the length of the sides, wherever there is a gate or opening and on all corners. To lay out 90 degree corners accurately, the 3-4-5 method can be used: Mark the location of one of the corner fence posts and place two pieces on the ground beginning at the corner -- one that extends 3 feet in length and another that extends 4 feet. Cut a third piece 5 feet long and adjust the orientation of the two shorter pieces until the ends of the string are exactly 5 feet from each other, forming a perfect right triangle. Secure the strings with rocks or other materials that holds them in place. This method can also be used to mark the fence lines and posts for rectangular fences. All the posts need to be set in concrete with 1/3 of their total height in the ground. For example, a 3-foot fence requires post holes 1 foot deep. After the concrete dries, 2-by-4 inch cross members can be mounted between the posts as a frame for attaching the pickets.
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