So what have we been doing the last week and a half? Figuring out how to put in a high tensile garden fence. We were supposed to have this all done in the week that Lee had off work but things didn’t work out as we had quite planned. So get ready for a lot of pictures as I bring you step by step through what we have done so far.
First, in overview, our garden fence encloses an area 100′ by 128′. This protects 14 fruit trees and about 9000 square feet of garden (in rotation). It will be 7′ high to discourage deer jumping, and have baited electric “scare” wires on all sides but along the public road. The bait is an apple scent which encourages the deer to sniff, ensuring that the deer’s first experience with our fence is a wet nose touching a wire with 10,000 volts.
The fence has two gates and uses 20 treated wood posts. We considered other post options, such steel pipe in concrete, but all have environmental positives and negatives. Wood posts are a proven and reliable technology when installed right. Most farm and building supply stores in our area sell extremely low grade fence posts. We were very unhappy with our options until we found a supply of great posts (and the best price) at Tinker Toy Fence Posts in Junction City, OR.
The post hole digger has marks on them so we would know how deep down the hole was. We were burying the posts three feet deep with the corner posts having 120 pounds of concrete in them. The corner posts leaned away from the strain of the fence and were offset one inch for every four feet.
We wrapped the posts with heavy 6mil plastic 3 feet and 2 inches up on the bottom of the post. Why would we do this? Well acording to a study done by the Oregon State University it can double the life of your post. It also minimizes leaching of the wood treatment (ACQ) into the surrounding soil.
For the end posts that were getting the concrete treament we put nails into the bottom so the concrete would have something to grip into. Instead of mixing the concrete in a wheel barrel we just poured about 30 pounds at a time into the hole, tamped, and added water. The idea is that the concrete will wick sufficient moisture from the ground to set up hard enough for fence holding purposes.
The posts were 10 feet tall with 7 feet being out of the ground. We really don’t want the deer in our garden. Here is what the post looked like next to Lee out and in the ground.
Most of the post hole digging went really smooth. Then there were the few that didn’t…… Yes there was some rocks. And some barbed wire under the rocks about 18 inches down. We scratched our heads on that one. There was also a charcoal line that was dug through, toys in the top 6 inches several times, and one horse shoe about a foot underground.
Lee didn’t want to buy a tamper for the holes so he made his own from a piece of Fir tree around our property.
Each corner post was part of an H-brace to resist the pull of the fencing. Here is how we made them. First a hole was drilled 57 inches up the post. The height was chosen to maximize the strength. Lee will probably discuss the reason for this height in a future post. Then a 5 inch brace pin was hammered part way in.
A hole was drilled in the center of the cross brace that would be fitted onto the 5 inch pin. This was done usually with me sitting on the post so it wouldn’t spin on Lee
The cross brace was fitted on the first post.
Next step was getting the cross post level.This was fun sometimes as the posts being uneven made it a challenge.
Once the cross brace was level with the brace post it was then marked with chalk.
Then the chalk mark was measured and a new hole was drilled all the way through the brace post.
Once the hole was drilled then a 10 inch brace pin was hammered just barely through. Basically enough so the cross brace will catch onto it. Once the cross brace was in place then the pin was hammered in leaving an inch of the pin out of the brace post.
Then came the level reading and adjusting of the post as it was filled back in with dirt.
One thing that took us so long was making sure that every post was level. We used wire though a hole in the level to hang them off the post. That way we could keep a constant eye on how we were doing.
In addition to the wood posts, we used 10 T-posts as line posts to support the fence material. (In retrospect, it would have been stronger and cheaper to use all wood posts of slightly smaller diameter.) Lee put in the last of the metal T-posts today. They were also 10 feet tall. Lee hated putting them in as they twisted and were a huge pain.
The garden fence posts are all in. Now we will be moving onto the next steps of putting in the fence in the coming week.