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Picket fence hangups


A few days ago I was all aglow about our fence plans, teasing the dogs with stories of how long I’d let them run and play, free from the restraint of their leashes. We’d be one big happy exhausted family after hours of throwing and fetching. But now, it seems that the picket fence was not meant to be. At least not in the near future.
We took measurements in the yard, keeping in mind our budget and future plans to build a patio/deck type element out back. Rather than fence in the entire back lawn, we decided to go about 30 feet from the back of the house and stop there. Plenty of room for any type of outdoor activity we could dream up. Our plan was to buy the (medium to low quality, but very wallet-friendly) picket fence that Home Depot sells. It’s the french gothic type, which isn’t our favorite picket style, but it was pre-made so it would require less effort on our part – a key selling point.

It looks something like this:

Picket Fence

We ran into a big problem though…….. Nero, the nuttier of our two small dogs, would be able to wiggle himself through the slats. How did we find this out, you ask? Teague whipped up a little testing tool using scrap lumber. He screwed two pieces of wood to a frame, spacing them 4 inches apart – exactly the width of the spacing on the gothic fence. Nero’s barrel chested, with a 5.5″ circumference at his widest point, so I thought for sure he wouldn’t be able to squish his way through there. Turns out he can suck that ribcage in any time he needs to. Not good news.

Our next step was to see how expensive it would be to build something closer to our favored style, like this, minus the cool points at the end (since that’s WAY too much cutting):
Picket Fence

Unfortunately, building this style would cost about 2.5 times as much AND require lots and lots of sweat equity. It’d look great though, wouldn’t it?

So, right now we’re re-evaluating. We have some big things to do before winter, like rewiring the rest of the upstairs, putting wallboard up in the stairwell, and blowing in some insulation so we don’t have to sell drugs to pay the gas bill. In other words, have plenty to keep us busy already. Though a custom-made picket fence would be nice, it’s not going to change our lives dramatically.

One of the parts I hate most about all this house renovation is this type of decision-making! Pffft. Maybe next spring we’ll revisit the fence idea. At least we know what we want!

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Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Greg had this to say on 08.18.06:

My friends have added a small wire fence that’s quite invisible from the street. They just took something like chicken wire, but with 3 inch square openings and about the same gauge, and stapled it to the inside of the fence. The wire is 2 feet high across the entire fence. From 10 feet or so you can’t even tell it’s there but it keeps the varmints out, or skinny dogs in.

Leah had this to say on 08.18.06:

Isn’t it funny how, with so many pressing issues at hand, you can still dream about the non-essentials…? For us, the daydream is all about a deck. Forget the fact that we sleep in the dining room and technically still aren’t allowed to use the whole upstairs of our house. What we REALLY need is a deck and then all would be right with the world. Yeah, let’s go spend our time putting THAT plan into action. Haha.

Carol had this to say on 08.18.06:

Just a word about cutting those points on the tops of the pickets: you can line up 6 of them or so on the table and saw them all at once with a circle saw set on a 45 degree angle, then rotate and do them 3 more times. Like I said before, it was 10$ a foot for materials but a nice sturdy picket fence, customized for your escape artists’ width.


Derek had this to say on 08.18.06:

The points on the top are for more than looks, they help shed water off the end grain. We had to build a fence in our backyard when the house was in disarray, with 2 small children it’s pretty much essential.

kk had this to say on 08.18.06:

We also have a fence-wiggler and a french-gothic-picket-premade-panel-put-it-up-so-the-dogs-can-run-FREEEEEE fence. Fortunately we have learned that she won’t wiggle through unless we are on the other side (and our whole yard is fenced, so we are pretty aware of when we are out and she is in) — but our back up plan was to screw in an additional 1×2 cedar board near the bottom of the pickets so that she would not be able to wiggle through. Just a thought…

We also have gardens growing along 95% of the fencing which also helps to discourage the fence squeezing even when we are on the other side.

Lee Ann had this to say on 08.21.06:

We just put up that exact gothic fence this past spring. We have a Chihuahua and the spaces were going to be too wide for her too. So we measured her across the shoulders and then made the spaces smaller than the width of her shoulders. Now she can look through but can’t get through them. Worked like a charm.

David Mullins had this to say on 07.12.07:

I have a cost effective way to do your picket however, cost effective will mean more cutting and work.

If you take a pretreated 2″x4″x8′ piece of wood and first cut it in half then set up your table saw to cut 5/8 to 1 ” cuts.

Turn the 2×4 so your cuts are made along the 2″ side. You will be able to get 6 to 10 pickets per 2x4x8′. your cost per foot will be anywhere between $5 to $7 per foot for the entire fence (post,pickets,rails and nails).

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