Pets can come with practical problems. Justin Newcombe shows us how to keep your animals in without compromising aesthetics.
Containing animals can leave your front or back yard looking like a bit of a prison exercise yard. Dogs tend to run around a lot and fencing in a dog is mandatory these days. From my own experience a good deal can be achieved through training, but sometimes it is just the individual dog or its breed that generates the impulse to escape.
The last time I owned a dog I didn't need a leash and fencing wasn't mandatory. Naturally, my dog was usually well-behaved, but my neighbour's dog was a different story. Ian was an extremely big, well-loved, gun dog who took any opportunity to shoot through (pardon the pun). For all the trouble he had caused, Ian would receive the softest of tellings off. "Ian, you naughty boy," followed by a friendly chuckle and a gentle roughing of the head. In all honesty Ian might as well have been given a biscuit.
Many owners of large dogs have to face the fact that when you put a dog together with a garden, the garden often comes off second best. These days my main concern is how to keep the chooks out of the vege garden but the principle is still the same. Time for some effective, but attractive fencing.
The main benefit of this project is that, by pairing animal-containing fencing with attractive planting, you're able to have a fence which is part of the garden rather than merely turning your yard into large pet container. The wire mesh, which has a 50mm opening, is supported by a post and rail fence frame I've painted black. I've planted Bearss limes (also known as Tahiti limes) hard up to the fence so that, over time, they will grow through the opening in the mesh to form a hedge on both sides of the fence. That means my hedge will also be edible, but any hedging-type plants will do.
And there's no reason you can't make a taller fence. Bunnings has wire at all different widths, and while you're there you can select a plant with which to cover it.
Clear the fence line of vegetation and other obstacles and set up a string line which goes past the end of your last post.
Dig post holes approximately 1.5 metres apart. Each of my posts are 1 metre high out of the ground and my holes are 350mm deep, so the total length of each post was 1.35 metres.
Put a spadeful of concrete in the bottom of each hole, then set each post into position using concrete. Recheck that each post is level and in line.
Leave the posts to set for at least 24 hours; three days is best. Set a string line as a guide for positioning the rail. Measure and cut the rail then clamp in place. If you are attaching the rail to posts set in only day-old concrete, you may want to use exterior screws so you don't crack the concrete away from the post.
Once both top and bottom rails are secure, paint the posts and rail.
Unroll and clamp the wire in place, then attach to the rails using fencing staples.
Plant your selected hedging trees as closely as possible to the fence line so the branches grow through the mesh.