Jean McWeeney is a freelance garden writer, a garden coach and owner of The Natural Garden Coach, a Master Gardener, and blogs about her own garden at

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How to Build a Living Fence
by Jean McWeeney       #Design   #Hardscaping   #How to

The simple wood and wire pergola of the entrance gate is alive with an ‘Old Blush’ climbing rose. This small courtyard garden is the entrance to the mud room and houses herbs, flowers and a rain barrel covered with the same materials as the fence.

Fences can fill a number of needs in the garden: They can enclose a space and define it, they can keep the dogs in or the neighbor’s cats out, they often tell the gardener where to stop planting. But they can also become part of the planting and design scheme itself. That is, they can support plants and allow their form to be seen in their best light. Of course, the typical cottage garden picket fence does a great job – but construction is not always easy or cheap. There is an alternative though – a wood and wire fence.

It is relatively easy to build, economical, and provides support for vines, flowers and plants – perfect for the rustic, cottage look. If you read my article in last month’s magazine, “A New Kind of Raised Planter,” you’ve probably already thought of how nice a wood and wire fence would go with stock tank planters or ponds. You can even build a stand-alone, mobile wood and wire system to provide a vertical element in the garden and the perfect trellis for vines. Once you see how easy it is to construct a living fence, you’re sure to visit the hardware store soon!


This fence, on a deck overlooking a creek, will be home to potted vines. It will also keep the dogs in the area.

A staple gun is used to attach the wire to the wood.

Tools and Materials:

• Heavy-gauge wire fencing, aka cattle panel, hog panel, etc.

• Posts

• Pressure-treated 1x6 skirt board

• Hammer or staple gun

• Wire cutters or electrician’s pliers

• ¾ inch U-staples

• 2-inch galvanized screws


How to:
Make the fence as high as the fencing is wide. Any higher than 48 inches may require a mid-rail for extra support. Set posts 8 feet apart. Dig a trench to bury the fence if you need to keep animals in/out. Attach rails along top and bottom to posts. Roll fencing along top rail and attach top edge with U-staples, making sure to align the top of the fencing to the top of the rail. Similarly, attach to bottom edge of fencing. Once the end post is reached, cut fencing with wire cutters and use plenty of staples for stability. Optionally, ¾-inch-thick pressure-treated lumber can reinforce the attachment at each post; use galvanized screws. An added skirt board will provide reinforcement along the bottom rail.


A version of this article appeared in an April 2011 print edition of State-by-State Gardening.
Photography courtesy of Jean McWeeney and Jennifer Estes.


Posted: 04/09/18   RSS | Print


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