This is a project I thought I’d never get to the end of. It’s not like I haven’t made lots of picket fences or gates before. But this project was a stinker. I say that because I was replacing a whopper-jawed chain link fence. You can see how it leans and nothing lines up.
The chain link wasn’t hard to remove. It was the metal posts that were the problem. There used to be big trees in this area, and over the years, the roots had moved the posts underground, to the point where nothing aligned. It was easy access for any raccoon, possum, or skunk. My attempts to keep them out were just plain ugly.
I’d been rolling this project over in my mind for years . . . how to fence this last side of my yard to match the other sides. Over the winter, I came up with a plan, and in February, to get a head start on the project, I started building the two picket sections and gate in my living room. You can read about that here if you so desire.
But the real problem was, with all the underground tree roots, there was no way I would ever be able to dig up the metal posts that were set in concrete. It was impossible to set new 4×4 posts in the ground to support the pickets. So . . . the way around that was too build faux looking, hollow posts that would set over the metal posts.
I have been asked for the directions for making the gate, so if you just want to see the final finished project, you can skip to the bottom of this rather long post.
I built the hollow posts out on the deck. Here you can see one with three sides showing the hollow inside. The hollow part had to be large enough that it would slide over the metal fence posts.
That solved the post dilemma, but only for a short time. The metal posts were not straight up and down in the ground, so everything was off kilter. That required more problem solving. I’m not recommending this solution, but at this point in the project, it was all my patience and limited skills were capable of. I proceeded to cut the metal posts off about half way down to where they were somewhat straight. Then I set the hollow posts over the top of them. I dropped the top part of the cut off metal section in the hole after that, and dumped half a bag of cement mix with some water into the hole in an attempt to make them study, and as straight as I could get them.
Once the cement had set, I made a trellis top, and hung the pickets in place. Believe me, nothing about this project ended up level or straight, which was why it was so difficult.
Then I proceeded on to the gate. I had also painted the gate boards in the living room. But in order to get the correct measurements, I could not make the gate until the fence was in place. This gate was being made to match the other two gates in my yard, but since it had been a few years since I had made them, I was essentially reinventing the wheel again. Once measurements were taken the boards were laid out on the living room floor and the bottom brace applied.
Measurements were taken based on the other gates, and modifications were made.
Horizontal boards were laid in place and a template made for the curved arch.
The arch was cut and the hummingbird cutout was penciled on.
Here is the hummingbird pattern if anyone should choose to add this delightful cutout to your yard. It can be enlarged to the size you desire.
Cross hatch and side boards were then cut and placed. I’m not very good with angles, so a lot of caulking was done to fill the gaps.
Holes were drilled into the hummingbird so a jigsaw could be inserted to cut out the bird’s shape.
And then slowly and carefully the hummingbird was cut out.
Every crack and hole was filled with caulk. Caulk is an amazing product. It can make anything look like you know what you’re doing. A thin piece of wood was nailed, glued, and clamped over the curve of the gate and left to dry for several days before cutting off the ends. Everything was then given a couple additional coats of paint.
At this point I thought I was on easy street. But not so. The gate turned out too wide and had to be cut down on the sides a couple times. And because the fence posts are not completely straight, the gate sometimes gets stuck when the wood swells from the rain.
There was also the matter of adding chicken wire to the picket fence sections to keep any wild critters from coming into the yard. While making this fence and gate, a skunk had taken residence under my garden shed, and that was a stinky fiasco. So my ultimate goal here was to make it impossible for a skunk to ever get into my back yard again. The chicken wire was stapled to the pickets and then to cover the sharp edges, it was covered and attached to the posts with additional strips of wood.
So it’s now June and it only took me four months to complete this project. I must admit that the gate and arbor did not deter the deer from jumping the gate. So a large sheet of gridded wire cut to size, is hung from the arbor to keep the deer out. The grid on the wire is probably something like 2 x 4 inches. It allows birds to fly in and out, but nothing larger, and can be easily removed when the gate is in use. It is visible, but not an eyesore or noticeable from the street. In the end, it’s inconvenience is worth not having deer eating my garden plants.
So finally, here is the end of a long project and a long post, if you’ve stuck with me this long. The picket fences are barely noticeable in the summer as large forsythia and oak leaf hydrangea grow on both sides of the fence.
You can barely see the fence and gate until you round the corner past the deck and oak leaf hydrangea.
And from the front yard, if you see the gate at all, through it, you will find my secret garden.