Summer Vacation 2011

This year, my to-do list is benefiting from an extraordinarily long summer vacation…fortuitous, since the list of things to do is also extraordinarily long.  I spent a couple of leisurely days editing, reviewing and prioritizing my list.  Then it was time to plan and execute item one – the garden fence.

A few searches on Google Images yielded some ideas, then I refined the ideas on graph paper.  The design had to be one I could build in a reasonable amount of time and an equally reasonable (low) cost.  So the winning design took a kind of minimalist approach…a narrow lattice panel across the top of each span.

Fence Design
Fence Design

The garden fence was intended mostly as a decorative device…a way to disguise the fact that my garden is on a slope.  The garden’s symmetrical design was more suited to a flat space, but leveling the yard or creating terraces would have required more digging than I am prepared to do for now.   The idea was to make the fence level across the top.  Although the distance varied between the bottom of the fence and ground, the fence should create the illusion of straight and level space.

The fence also has a practical purpose.  Hopefully it will serve as a visual deterrent for the deer. Pretty and practical…perfect attributes of a formal garden where I grow vegetables for the kitchen.

Fence Concept
Fence Concept

I started by setting posts in the outer corners of each bed.  I didn’t have 4x4s but did have some surplus landscaping timbers, so I used those.  I used a string to level the tops of all the posts.

The next step was to build the fence panels.  For the horizontal rails, I ripped 2x4s down the middle.  I could have used whole 2x4s, but I wanted the lattice panels to appear very thin and lace-like.  For the vertical sticks I used 2x2s.  Lumber this thin, though, is going to warp over time.  In fact, most of my stock was already bowed. (Note: Planed lumber is always thinner than the stated dimensions, especially so with the 2x2s, which are more like 1.25×1.25)

Notching the Rails
Notching the Rails

Prior to attaching the verticals, I notched the horizontal rails.  When I put the panels together, I’d use the irregularities in the pieces to counter each other.  Bowed or straight sticks would apply opposite tension on the other bowed sticks…and I’d end up with a reasonably straight assembly.  Plus, the notched/joined assembly would be stronger and less prone to sagging.

Twelve panels were required: two 8 footers and one 10 footer for each garden bed.  I attached the panels to the posts as I completed each one, cutting of a few inches from each end to fit.

Completed Panel
Completed Panel

To attach a panel, I fastened some spare deck boards to the outside of the posts, like a kind of fascia.  The panel could then be attached to the inside of that fascia board.

Panel & Fascia Board
Panel & Fascia Board, and a weed among my sweet potatoes...

With all the panels attached, the overall effect was achieved.  The slope of the yard was less pronounced and the deer have not eaten my vegetables.  There are four openings into the garden, though, so I still need to figure out what to do for those.  Vine covered archways or arbors perhaps.

Garden Fence
Garden Fence

Still haven’t decided what color to stain the fence either.

After finishing the  garden fence, I still had lumber left over, and the horse people were in need of a mounting block.  So, since the tools were out anyway, why not keep building?

For the uninformed, a mounting block is a platform with stairs.  A rider leads her horse up to the side of the platform as she ascends the stairs.  Then she can simply step over the horse into the saddle.

I already had the stair stringers (the boards with stair notches), and the treads…no coincidence as the mounting block had been on the to-do list for awhile.   All the remaining deck boards were used on the fence, so I had to buy a few of those, along with some carriage bolts, nuts & washers.

Mounting Block Diagram
Mounting Block Diagram

The mounting block had to be sturdy enough for frequent use, but light enough to be moved for mowing, so I tried to use as little lumber as possible. The sides were assembled first, with diagonal supports to offset the stair stringers, and a few lap joints chiseled out for additional strength. The sides were connected with horizontal supports, then the treads and risers added (the flat & vertical step boards). Finally, I attached deck boards for the platform, arranged diagonally to prevent swaying, should a rider have to push her horse into position while standing on the platform.

Completed Mounting Block
Completed Mounting Block

4 thoughts on “Summer Vacation 2011

  1. Awesome mounting block! I’m searching around for ideas for building a large, stable, but movable block, and I think this is the one! Thanks so much for posting- love the tack cabinets as well!

  2. Turns out my wife wanted a new and improved mounting block for our barn. She saw your blog and the next thing I know I am building a new mounting block just like yours. So far, the reviews are excellent. Thanks for the inspiration. Here is a pic of ours:

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