When in Doubt, Build a Fence

When in Doubt, Build a Fence

I have a very long, narrow garden bed along one side of my yard. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using those cheesy coated-wire fences to keep the dogs out of them, and suddenly, today, I couldn’t stand them anymore. Also, there’s a random patch of grass at the far end of the bed, beyond the plum trees, that I’ve been meaning to get rid of — it was about six feet by six feet, and mostly the dogs just seemed to use it to poop on. On the far side of the grass patch, is a long, narrow, vestigal bed where the rhubarb lives, and where I planted a few raspberry thinnings a friend gave me, but which died, I think, due to erratic watering. At any rate, that whole end of the yard was sort of random and odd, and I’ve been meaning to do something about it for a while.

So today, which was strangely wet — rainy and springlike — inspired me to drive down to Home Depot and investigate my options for replacing the crappy wire fences (which the dogs have been doing a number on). I wound up buying a whole bunch of 1 x 2’s — I have a pile of stakes left from back when I was building the raised beds, and so, I built a series of very simple low border fences — two 1×2’s on 2 foot stakes. I have some persistent wild sweet pea in that bed, sweet pea I’ve been trying to get rid of for the past three years, but I think, twined around my little fence, it’ll be nice. Maybe I’ll plant some morning glory too — or nasturtium, or even those viny petunias. With the shrub roses behind them, and the hollyhocks and delphiniums, it’ll be pretty.

Then things got fun. I have a 16 pound maul that Patrick left me. He spent most of his adult life working for a big tent company — Patrick was the guy who put up all the tents for things like Oprah’s 50th birthday party, or the Pebble Beach Golf tournement — and a 16 pound maul is a handy thing to own. So there I was out there in my backyard — not swinging that thing over my shoulder, which would have taken far more aim than I am capable of, but rather, lifting it up and dropping it on the stakes, setting my wee border fences in the long narrow bed along one side of my yard. I did accidentally drop said maul on my toe once, only from about three inches high, but that was enough to induce dancing and cursing to the extent that the dogs were alarmed. But for the most part, it was a successful afternoon. I have a new, sligthly wobbly but better-than-wire fence, I smothered the grass patch under wet newspaper and bark mulch, and then spent the evening poring over gardening magazines in search of tall perrenials that do well in semi-shade (the stockade fence throws off more shade than I’d anticipated).

So all in all, an okay day. When in doubt, conjure up a project. Get out the cordless drill, the 16 pound maul, and bags of bark mulch. If nothing else, it will feel as if progress was achieved.

3 thoughts on “When in Doubt, Build a Fence

  1. And progress indeed! (yay for pounding in stakes).

    Do you have any friends you can rip off perennials from? I tend to go to my mom’s garden and divide, divide, divide — instead of getting stuff from catalogs. (Tough Vermont perennials think the Hudson VAlley is paradise!). But really, locally raised stuff that you’ve taken from friends often does better in your own garden faster. . .

    My sister (who gardens in Ohio) tells me that Morning Glories are incredibly invasive and if you are thinking about planting them STOP. I planted bush morning glories last year and am sure I’m going to be ripping those suckers out for years. . . just be forewarned. Many many seed-pods. Are there any local wild roses you could do instead? (spoken by someone who intends to put wild roses by her intended fence and will most likely opt for zinnias instead!)

  2. I keep buying random local wild roses and sticking them in wherever — and considering the invasive, pervasive, unkillable wild sweet peas I already have, I think I’ll take your sister’s advice about the morning glories. Also I have some peonies that I need to move — there are two in the middle of the front yard, one on each side, and they’re lovely, but weirdly placed. And another in the side yard in the middle of nowhere — the problem is that peonies want to be moved in the fall, when it’s been dry, and they’re buried under all that hardpan, and I never get around to it … this year … I swear!

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