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Building Fences

     The fence around the vegetable garden at Poison Ivy Acres is almost finished. It is a rustic enclosure, created out of some black locust trees that fell in a winter storm. It is said that locust posts last one year longer than cement… being optimistic, and hoping that this is true, we decided to fence our garden with Robinia pseudoacacia. This tree is native to the southeastern US but considered almost invasive in New England. We battle the thorny black locust saplings that spring up in our new gardens, while thanking these trees for the materials we used to create the new fence.

     A black locust fence reminds me that there are two sides to every coin, and a curse can also be a blessing.

     Last year we planted our first vegetable garden at Poison Ivy Acres, and like most first gardens, we didn’t have many pests or problems. The Mexican bean beetles haven’t found our beans, and any neighboring rabbits and woodchucks have yet to make their way to the ripening produce we are growing. I have been a gardener for enough years to know that it’s unlikely that this will last. If you grow vegetables and haven’t had insect, animal or disease problems, I have two words for you: just wait. 

   Or, perhaps, be prepared. Our new fence is ornamental right now, but we are poised to staple chicken wire to those locust logs, buried, if necessary, to prevent digging groundhogs. We could, I suppose, attach electric wires on the top of the fence posts in order to prevent the deer from jumping into the garden. 

As I order kiwi vines to plant on the back of this rustic enclosure, and make plans for gates on all four sides, I think of Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall. The last line says “Good fences make good neighbors.”

I hope so.

This year I\'ll plant annual morning glories on the arbor.

This year I'll plant annual morning glories on the arbor.


A fence frames a garden, and is as important visually as it is functionally.

A fence frames a garden, and is as important visually as it is functionally.


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3 Responses to “Building Fences”

  1. 1
    Rhian:

    Just beautiful!

  2. 2
    Faith:

    Hi – I thought your fence was gorgeous and I need to put up the same thing, only I’d like the height to be at least 6 ft. How long do the posts have to be in order to have stability and 6 ft of post above the ground (that is, how did do the posts have to be buried) ?What are the dimensions between the posts? Any tips? My garden is 24′ x 12′ and I want to keep the deer out, mainly.

    Any advice would be most welcome.
    Thanks. Faith

  3. 3
    CL Fornari:

    Faith,
    We sunk the posts into the ground down 3 or more feet – the deeper they are the more stable the fence. If or when we have small animals to keep out (wood chucks or rabbits) we’ll put chicken wire on the bottom, and if we need to keep deer out we’ll put an electric wire around the top. Our fence is about 5′ high and I’d put an electric wire around at the 6′ level for deer.

    The space between the posts depends on how long your cross pieces are and the size of your garden. You could have the posts as close as six feet or as far as eight feet. Ours average eight feet apart – we just eyeballed it after putting in the posts on either side of the gates.

    Once our gates are in place I’ll put photos up.
    all the best, C.L.