More and more often you can see the simple, but visually very appealing wooden fences in gardens, which often take on their typical gray patina after just one year. Here is how to build such a picket fence yourself.
The construction of a picket fence is easy even for the inexperienced and can be done with just a few tools. The material is offered by the meter as a so-called roll fence, usually made of very weather-resistant sweet chestnut, and is available in many lengths and heights. The Romans already appreciated the wood of the sweet chestnut: as a stake for vines, it was significantly more durable than the wood of other tree species.
Even today, picket fences are mostly made of split wood of sweet chestnut. Chestnut wood is weatherproof and, due to its high tannic acid content, insensitive to fungal and insect attack. It does not need to be treated, comes from native forests and is therefore ecologically safe. By the way, the ends of the English picket fence model are blunt, and the French are sharpened.
Delivered by the roll, the picket fence can be easily installed in the garden: The split chestnut timbers are attached to two to three wires with metal cramps, depending on the height. Wooden posts driven into the ground, to which the picket fence is screwed, serve as supports.
Step by step: setting up picket fence
Pre-drill holes for fence posts
You can use an earth auger to pre-drill holes for the fence posts on heavily compacted soils. If you do not have a suitable earth drill at hand, you can also use a sturdy iron rod to drive a smaller hole into which the thicker wooden post is then hammered.
Drive in fence posts
A heavy wooden hammer is the ideal tool for hammering in fence posts. Splintering of the wood is thereby reliably avoided. If you have an iron sledgehammer, place a wooden board on the post to be on the safe side. This also prevents damage to the stake. Before driving in, the driving depth should be marked with a chalk or pencil line. A heavy post or pile driver can also be used to drive in fence posts without great effort or risk of splintering. The heavy sleeve is simply placed over it, lifted and dropped forcefully as often as necessary. Such pile drivers can be borrowed from many hardware stores.
Aligning the picket fence
In order to be able to align and fasten the pickets exactly vertically, especially at the end of the rolls, a simple trick helps: With two tension belts, which are attached directly above or below the wires, you pull the fence pickets evenly towards the next post in each case and can then screw them down easily.
Fastening the pickets to the posts
It has proven to be quite practical and stable to screw the fence slats to the posts with several wood screws at the height of the wire and it is best to pre-drill the holes first. Since the fence can stand directly on the ground, you do not have to laboriously lift the pickets to a certain height in the process. The distance between the posts varies depending on the height of the fence, as well as the required stability, but should not exceed two meters (6 feet) – otherwise the fence will sag in the middle.
Use picket fence in the garden
Especially well fits the picket fence in cottage gardens and natural gardens. It is available in heights from a good half to two meters (20 in to 6 ft), plus different types of gates. The fence can be used to enclose a plot of land, to separate a garden area, such as a vegetable garden, or simply to extend low around a flower bed or as a protection to the garden pond, so that children are safe. Another advantage is that the picket fences are not rigid, but can be flexibly constructed and adapted to the outline of the respective area. Even a rounded course is possible if you set the posts close enough.
The thin pickets and wire provide good support for climbing plants. However, do not choose species that grow too lush, their weight would be too great. Most clematis varieties or honeysuckle are suitable. Annual climbing plants such as sweet pea or nasturtium also look pretty and go very well with the natural charm of the picket fence.