Finishing Fences

It has finally happened, I have finished the fence that we built back in April. It only took 6 months, but at least I got it done before the winter hit and our 2021 landscaping season came to a close. I actually built the last piece of our fence back in May, and wrote about it in my post called “Swinging Gate”. Apparently a bit has changed in 6 months.

The original plan was to add a gate to the space between the corner of our house and the fence. There is a natural run there that the previous owners had created. It carries down into the back yard and all the way to our shed. There is a secondary fence from the back corner of our house to the shed that creates the run. Eventually we hope it will become a chicken run. In the meantime, it has been a bit of a dumping ground. We do our best to make sure we clean it regularly, but often store stuff in that are that we need to take to the dump, or have nowhere else to store the items. Right now it has the lattice panels that we took down from our old fence, some piles of dirt and pulled weeks, some scrap wood, some bricks, a garbage bin that needs to be tossed and a tupperware container that is also headed to the dump. It’s probably at it’s worst right now.

When we started on this adventure in landscaping our 1/4 acre yard, we had a bobcat come in to clear the junipers that took up 3/4 of the yard. In order to get the machine into the backyard, it came down the side of the house and through that run. We had to remove a few fence panels from the inner fence to make room for the bobcat to swing into the yard. That is the only time that we have had to access that side run from the front of our yard. Due to that work, the fence panels that we took out have never been the same, and now that fence is on its last leg….literally.

All but one of the posts have rotted and broken, resulting in a severe lean. We really finished it off when we were building our new perimeter fence by leaning pieces of wood and old fence against it while we were working. All summer I have been waiting for it to finally fall over. Thankfully it hasn’t since it is pretty much the only thing keeping the dogs in the yard. With a busy main road running in front of our house, it would not be a good thing if the dogs got out. Ellie would stay on the property, but Basil would likely go for a wander.

With a few good gusting storms and Basil’s constant desire to sit under the section that is leaning the worst, just waiting to be squashed, it was finally time to stop procrastinating and get that gate panel up. Only it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The building of the gate panel was easy. Getting it up and closing the gap between the house and gate was not so easy, hence the procrastination.

So the original plan was to put a few metal brackets on the house, to attach the gate post to. This would help stabilize the post so that it could handle the weight of the gate. We had to cement the post about 12″ from the house due to irrigation lines running from the front of the house to the back along that wall. I called my dad over since it was stressing me out thinking about drilling into the side of my house. As we got started, we made a realization that completely change the plans. The cement foundation went much higher than we had anticipated and we couldn’t screw the brackets to the wall.

Not only do we need the post to be secured, but I also needed something to screw some boards to, in order to close the gap between the house and the gate so the dogs couldn’t get through. It was a bit of a conundrum with dad considering getting his cement drill. As we pondered, I remembered I had a tube of no more nails. The whole idea of that stuff is to be able to adhere things to areas that nails (and screws) can’t be used. Voila! Having used the stuff for a lot of theatre applications, I was confident that it would give a solid enough hold for what we needed. So, we glued a 2×4 to the wall and attached a section of plywood to that and the post. Once dry, it completely stabilized the gate post.

Now, just because it stabilized it didn’t meant that it would be able to handle a large 4′ swinging gate. So change of plans. Dad had a great suggestion of making it so that the panel could be inserted and removed as needed, rather than as a gate that swung on hinges. Same final use, but different application. Fantastic. I went and grabbed the few items that I needed. Then Kurt hurt himself at work with a chest wall injury. No more landscaping or yardwork for him for the rest of the season. So the gate once again sat for a week. Again, I was back to watching the fence that is slowly falling over. More storms rolled through and I felt that I was pressing my luck with the giant opening that could become a reality at any time.

So I decided that I would put the panel up. I grabbed all the items I needed and hauled it up to the corner of the house. Though the gate is somewhat heavy, it was still manageable on my own. Once I got it up there though, I began to realize it is difficult to do finicky work on a large panel of fence on your own. To attach the eyelets and the hooks, while ensuring the fence was level was going to be a bit of a task. And I was worries in a strong wind that it would rattle around a bit, causing my grief since it was going to be against our bedroom wall. Nope, I didn’t want to be trying to fix that in the middle of winter.

Plan C! In the 8 years we have lived here, it is just once that we have needed to gain access to that area. So, I took all the hardware off it, stuck it into place, levelled it and screwed it in as though it was a fence panel, not a gate of any sort. I figure, if we need to remove it, we can do so by removing the 4 screws, which in my opinion, is just as easy as lifting it off some eyelets. Voila! Part of it was done.

Filling the gap was fairly easy. A few quick measurements, some cuts in the wood and some brad nails and I had built a mini panel that fit perfectly between the gate and the wall of the house. I had to cut out a section that accommodated the transition from the concrete foundation to the siding, but it was only a 1″ difference, so it was an easy cut out. Snug as a bug in a rug. It is a nice fit, and was easy to screw into place using a few pieces of wood on the backside, and a couple screws from the front into the 2×4 that we glued to the house. Lovely. Now our yard is completely fenced with no opportunity for the dogs to get out. Unless one of us stupidly leave the gate open, but we are very mindful of that.

Lessons learned here; have lots of backup plans; procrastination isn’t a bad thing as long as it gets done eventually; and call dad when you need to come up with backup plans!

Next steps will be some dump runs to get rid of the garbage out of that area, take down the fence so it doesn’t fall on one of the dogs (use it to create a coffee table for the rec room), and prepare it for the spring when we will have to try to get the grass to grow there until we are ready to develop it.

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