All decks need railings because they are extremely important safety features.  But, who says they have to be eye sores?  There are many different styles and designs available these days, and the article below showcases several of them.  We can work with you and your ideas to create the beautiful deck railing you want!  Keep in mind that we can also do custom plasma cut pieces!  You can browse through those in our gallery after reading this post!

Deck Railing Design Ideas

An essential safety feature, your deck railing is also a key component of your overall deck design.

By: John Riha

Choosing a deck railing design is putting the icing on the cake of your deck-building project. You can add a railing system that matches the material of your deck, or mix it up, like adding a colorful powder-coated aluminum railing to your redwood deck.


Whatever you come up with, remember that building codes have a lot to say about how to build a deck railing. Railings are required on decks that are 30 inches or more above grade, railings must be at least 36 inches high, and balusters must be no more than 4 inches apart.


With the codes in mind, here are basic types of deck railings:


Composite + Vinyl

Composite and vinyl deck railings come in many styles and colors, and are virtually maintenance-free. Railing kits have posts, balusters, rails, and connectors that make installation a DIY-friendly project. The structural core of the system are pressure-treated wood posts covered with a composite or vinyl sleeve, and some systems offer mix-and-match baluster materials, such as steel and aluminum spindles. Composite and vinyl kits are readily available at home improvement centers for $25 to $30 per linear foot.



At $40 to $60 per linear foot, glass makes an oh-so-chic but oh-so-expensive deck railing system. Nevertheless, they’re great when you want to see all the vistas your deck has to offer. Use tempered, shatterproof safety glass, but check with your local building codes about glass railings before you proceed. Look for modular railing systems with aluminum posts and supports. Choosing tinted glass helps prevent birds from flying into clear glass.



Metal deck railings are made of either powder-coated aluminum or steel. Both are rugged, but only aluminum is rustproof. Metal deck railings that you find at home improvement centers come in a limited number of styles and colors. Expect to pay $30 to $40 per linear foot for a metal tailing system.


Cable railings

Cable deck railing systems are another good way to open up views, and to give your deck design a modern aesthetic. They include stainless steel cables and posts made of wood, aluminum, or composites, and a system runs about $125 to $150 per linear foot. The cables run through intermediate posts and usually end at a corner where the cable is attached to a turnbuckle for creating — and maintaining — the correct tension. To comply with codes, the cables must be no more than 4 inches apart, so maintaining the proper tension is vital.



Wood railings run the gamut from inexpensive to downright pricey, depending on the wood you choose. Pressure-treated wood is the most budget-friendly, at about $10 per linear foot for a railing system. Tropical hardwoods such as ipe run up to five times as much.


If you’re looking to liven up your wood railing, try these deck railing design ideas:

• Style up a wood DIY railing with classic designs, such as Chippendale and Craftsman. Look online for motifs you can copy.

• Build your own railing sections, using galvanized wire mesh in place of balusters.

• In places where your deck is less than 30 inches above grade, trade out a railing for built-in benches to define the edges of your deck.


Want to fence in your property or just part of your yard but don’t know where to begin?  This article from Forbes by professionals over at Houzz offers any and all considerations for the right kind of fence for your needs.  Need to keep pets in or other animals out?  There are specific fences for that!  Need to secure your pool or an entrance from the street?  There are fences for that, too! Continue reading below, and you will be full of ideas for your project.

How To Choose The Right Fence

Houzz, Contributor to Forbes

Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

Need a new fence for your yard or patio? Whether you crave more privacy in your outdoor space; need to block chilly wind, mask a street view or secure your pool; or keep your dogs in (or deer out), we’ve got you covered. Here’s the need-to-know info on choosing the right fence based on space and needs.

Gain Privacy

If you want true privacy, choose a fence with little to no space between boards. A closely spaced lattice can be nearly as private as a solid material when combined with the lush foliage of climbing plants. The height willdepend on the slope of your yard and your neighbor’s yard, the position of your seating areas and any applicable local building codes. Try using a length of paper or cardboard the height of the fence you are considering, and have a friend hold it up while walking the perimeter of your yard. Stand up and sit down in each area of your yard to see if the fence will be high enough for your privacy needs.

Consider going gateless. If ease of access is more important to you than security, consider forgoing the gate entirely and installing several offset fences to allow room for a path while blocking the street view, as shown here.

Consider a stepped design. If it seems like too much to have a tall privacy fence all the way around your yard, consider going with a stair-step design to get privacy just where you need it. For instance, you could have a taller section of fence around your seating area and hot tub, and lower fencing beside the lawn.

Shield Wind

When you need to block strong breezes but don’t want to lose the light — or a grand view — the best option is glass, as shown on this stunning rooftop patio. If blocking a view is not an issue, any privacy fence with few to no gaps between boards will work well. For height keep in mind that if you primarily need to keep the wind out of a seating area, the fence can be a few feet lower than around an area where people will be standing, such as around the grill.

Feel Secure

The most important features to have for a security fence are a taller height, a lack of places to grip and a sturdy, lockable gate. Any security fence should be at least 8 feet high, although you can add a few feet of trellis to the top of a 6-foot fence for security that doesn’t look quite so imposing. Choose a fence with flush boards and no horizontal rails on the outside, to deter potential intruders from attempting to climb it.

Block a Street View

When your home is on a busy street, creating a peaceful backyard space begins with the right fence. If you want to allow some light in, pick a fence with small gaps between boards (or even a lattice-like design) and layer lush plantings on both sides to provide additional privacy. Or try a frosted glass design, as shown here. As with privacy fencing, it can be helpful to test out the fence height you are considering before you commit.

Keep Your Dogs In

The first step is knowing your dogs. Are they jumpers or diggers? How high can they jump? Are they likely to try to escape from your yard, or are they generally content to hang out? A 3- to 4-foot fence could be adequate for smaller dogs and those who do not jump; larger dogs will need something taller. If your dogs are diggers, bury the fence at least 6 inches underground or place hardscaping along the fence line.

Consider blocking visual stimuli with a solid fence.While nearly any type of fence can do the job of keeping your dog in the yard, if your dog is excitable or loves to bark, consider investing in a solid fence to block the visual cues (cars, pedestrians, cats) that get him going.

Keep Deer Out

Some deer can jump nearly 8 feet high, making it quite difficult to keep them out of garden beds using normal fencing. A solid privacy fence is ideal because it blocks the deer’s view of your tasty plants — it’s not likely deer will jump into an area if they can’t be sure it is safe. If privacy fencing is not desirable (for instance, you want to be able to see and enjoy your own garden), you can make a regular garden fence taller by attaching netting to taller poles, in effect making a taller (but nearly invisible) fence. Another option is to make your fence significantly wider by planting large hedges along one side — deer cannot jump as high if they must also clear a long distance.

Secure Your Pool

Even if you do not have children in your home, it is important to take steps to secure your pool — friends or relatives with children could visit, and neighborhood kids could try to sneak into your pool without your knowledge. Be on the safe side by securing both your yard (with a security fence) and the pool itself. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s safety barrier guidelines for home pools suggest using a fence with a minimum height of 48 inches, a maximum spacing of 1¾ inches between pieces and no handholds or footholds for children to use for climbing. The gate should be self-closing, should be self-latching with a childproof latch and should open outward from the pool.

Before You Buy That Fence …

  • Check local building codes and apply for a permit if necessary.
  • Find out where your property line is. Hire a surveyor to map it out for you if you are unsure.
  • Be sure there are no underground utility lines in the way.


If you have been wanting to spice up your yard by adding landscaping, look no further!  There are ways you can landscape along your fence to accentuate the fence instead of hiding it.  The article below offers some ideas and even suggests how you can bring in even more nature with certain plants.  Use these ideas for inspiration and then get started!

Landscaping Along Fencing for Beauty and Privacy

Fences, by nature, are often quite boring and bare. But you can change that. The addition of plants along your fence adds beauty, provides additional privacy and gives you more room to grow the plants you enjoy.

Choose Plants Based on the Type of Fencing

  • White fences highlight colorful plants, such as flowering shrubs and perennials.
  • Chain-link fences aren’t attractive, but flowering vines can transform your fence by covering it with appealing foliage and blooms.
  • Horse fencing, whether made of vinyl or metal, doesn’t provide much privacy. By adding smaller trees and shrubs (horse safe, of course!) along the fence, you can create areas of privacy.

If you have a lawn, install a border to separate the lawn from the landscaped area and to prevent grass from growing into it. The border should be at least 12 ft. away from the fence to allow space for plants to grow. There are different types of landscape borders available, including flexible plastic, metal and brick. The height of the plants you select depends on your fence. If your fence is decorative, choose lower-growing shrubs and perennials that won’t cover the decorative details of your fence. However, if your fence is plain-Jane boring, then select plants that will grow tall and cover it.

Ideas to Get Started

  • For a tall, plain fence, create a layered landscape with tall shrubs planted in back, shorter perennials in front and groundcovers along the border. This will add depth and beauty to your landscape.
  • Create a colorful seasonal display with annual flowers in front of a white fence. Plant cosmos, daisies, marigolds and nasturtiums. Another great option is to plant a row of brightly colored sunflowers.
  • Instead of a straight border, create a curved border, which will soften straight lines and angles. Use a garden hose to outline the area to help you create the curved shape you want.
  • For beautiful color contrast, use plants that have leaves and flowers that are a different color from your fence.
  • Grow vegetables! Plant tomatoes, cucumbers or beans along your fence. Provide tomato cages to support tomatoes and trellises for cucumbers and beans.
  • Attract butterflies or hummingbirds to your garden by creating a habitat just for them along your fence. Add agastache, bee balm, penstemon, red salvia and trumpet creeper to attract hummingbirds. Butterflies will enjoy the colorful flowers of cosmos, dogwood, lantana, milkweed and purple coneflower.

When selecting plants, keep your property line in mind. Keep unwanted trees and plants from extending into your neighbor’s property. Avoid adding invasive plants along your fence, since they can be difficult to keep under control.

So start looking at the area along your fence as a great opportunity to add beauty to your garden!



Does part of your fence need reinforcement until the whole thing is
ready to be replaced?  Do you need to make sure your pet doesn’t escape
or someone doesn’t get hurt?  You can reinforce your fence posts easily
if you follow the suggestions in this article.  After getting together
your materials, you can be your own handy man!  Continue reading below
for directions.

Reinforcing a Weak Fence Post

SF Gate Home Guides

A wobbly fence post is an accident waiting to happen. Whether children climb on the fence, fall off and get hurt or your dog lunges at the fence and makes an impromptu escape due to the weak point, it’s trouble. Because reinforcing a weak fence post isn’t a difficult task, take quick action to repair it as soon as you discover it and prevent a possible catastrophe.


Before you can reinforce a weak fence post, it’s crucial that you assess the amount of damage that lies below the surface. Wiggle the post with your hand to determine whether it seems to be intact from top to bottom. Wood fence posts may decay and metal ones may rust. Shine a flashlight into the hole surrounding the post to see if it is still in one piece. If necessary, dig away a small amount of the surrounding soil to increase your view of the post for further assessment. Check nearby posts to determine if they need reinforcement too.


Fortunately, the materials required to reinforce a fence post, whether wood, vinyl, steel or aluminum, are minimal. A bag of rapid-set cement mix, gravel, a gallon of water, a shovel, a spirit level and a rubber mallet are sufficient equipment to get the job done. Wear old clothes to reinforce the fence post, particularly when working with cement mix. Add a pair of heavy work gloves to the ensemble, especially if you’re working with a wooden post that may cause splinters.


To begin reinforcing the post, dig a few inches of soil away from it around the perimeter. Fill the hole with approximately 6 inches of gravel. Top the gravel with rapid-set cement mix powder to fill the hole to 3 inches below the surface of the soil. Use the rubber mallet to pound the fence post into place and place the spirit level on top of the post to ensure that it’s level vertically. Add water to the cement mix that is already in the ground. One gallon per 50-pound bag is a good rule of thumb. Because you’ll probably use less than a whole bag, decrease the amount of water accordingly. For example, if you’ve used 25 pounds of mix, decrease the water to a half gallon. Wait 30 to 40 minutes for the mix to set into concrete.


Once you’ve set the fence post in gravel and concrete, chances are it won’t require your attention for a long time. However, that doesn’t mean all the fence posts are equally secure. Periodically walk the fence line to inspect your entire fence for damage. Check each post to ensure it’s secure by applying pressure to the post to see whether it shifts or gives way. If you find a loose post, repeat the procedure for reinforcing a fence post to secure it as well.

There are ways you can add some beauty to your fence without breaking the bank. like painting, hanging planters, and other eco-friendly options!  We know that there are a lot of suggestions out there for decorating fences, but this article seems great for summer!  Check it out below.

7 Ways to Dress Up Your Fence

Sometimes a drab old fence can be an eyesore, even in a landscape brimming with beauty. But instead of allowing plain planks of wood to become an unattractive focal point, use them as a backdrop for an exciting design. There are many ways to accessorize a fence, from a new coat of paint to unique, mounted art.

1. Give It Color

A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to revitalize a boring fence. When choosing a color, think about what will highlight your landscape. If you have mostly greens and browns in your yard, pick something with a pop of color such as bright yellow or turquoise. If your garden is already colorful, go for something neutral but eye-catching like moss green, charcoal, or a rusty red.

If you like a more natural and rustic look, think about using a wood stain, which will bring out the natural luster and pattern of the wood itself. It highlights the earth tones, making them richer, deeper, and brighter.

2. Make a Pattern

If you really want something eye-popping, consider painting a pattern instead of a solid color. This can be as easy as painting the planks in alternating colors. For a pattern like thick zigzag lines, houndstooth, or paisley, do a quick internet search for wall painting stencils. These come in every shape and size and are as easy to use on a fence as they are on a wall. Prices range from around $20 to $60. To use them, simply put down a fresh coat of neutral paint, wait for it to dry, and then paint over your stencil in the color of your choosing for an instant “Wow!”

3. Paint a Picture

Murals are certainly more involved and time-consuming, but you come away with a one-of-a-kind piece of art right in your own yard. Not artistic? Search for a local muralist in your area. Many are reasonable on price and, depending on the size of the fence, can have the piece done in one or two afternoons. Themes are unlimited and can include personal aspects like a favorite scene from a family trip, an important quote, a favorite book cover, or a dream destination. They can also be totally abstract.

4. Go Green with Vines

Plant perennial or annual vines beside or in front of your fence, and train them to climb up and over the fence or to spread out along the face of the planks. This will take time, but within two growing seasons your vines will nearly double in size. Although many vines will not scale a wooden fence, there are a few easy ways to get vertical growth.

Set trellises in front of the fence, either simple wood ones or wrought iron, and train the vines up these. Get them started by tying the vines loosely to the trellises with dental floss. Soon, they will figure out which way is up and start climbing all on their own. You can also mount chicken wire directly onto the face of the fence using a staple gun and train the vines onto this. The narrow wire is perfect for climbing and the vines will wrap their tendrils around it in no time. Vigorous vines include clematis, wisteria, and trumpet vine, which all have striking flowers. Keep in mind that some vines like wisteria and ivy are very strong and have been known to pull down houses. Make sure these are climbing on freestanding iron trellises to avoid damage to your fence.

5. Go Green with Planters

Another way to use plants to hide your fence is to mount planters or hanging baskets directly onto the wood. Many pots are made with a flat side or with a side hook for vertical mounting. Window boxes are also excellent choices because they commonly come with hooks so that you can hang them over your fence without having to affix them permanently. A sunny fence would be an excellent place for an herb garden or for butterfly-attracting plants such as lantana, pentas, zinnias, and canna lilies. Trailing annuals, like Swedish ivy and sweet potato vine, will dangle prettily and blow in the wind.

6. Let the Moss Grow

An easy way to cover or dress up a shady fence without messing with pots or soil is to spray it with a moss mixture. With a little time and moisture, the moss will germinate and grow right on the wood. All you need is two handfuls of fresh moss (from a nursery or just picked from your yard or the woods), two cups of buttermilk, and two cups of water. Get an old blender and mix up these ingredients. Then, grab a hose and give your fence a nice rinse. Pour your ‘moss milkshake’ into a spray bottle and spray it on the moist planks, or use a paintbrush and paint it on. To get creative, paint it on in words or pictures. Keep the fence damp by giving it a light spray from the hose once a week, twice in drought conditions, and watch your moss grow!

7. Use Unconventional Decorations

You don’t have to rely on plants to dress up your fence. There are lots of cool things you can hang or mount onto it that will add an element of whimsy. So, instead of just painting a new color or pattern, have your kids or friends paint small pictures on the fence and mount multicolored picture frames around them.

Other popular ideas right now include things one would not typically find on a fence. For example, you can mount thrift shop mirrors of different sizes for a flashy and unusual hint of silver. Try something themed with your items too, like drilling bolts into the fence and using ceramic glue to attach teacups, teapots, saucers, and serving platters to the bolts for a very Alice in Wonderland-esque look. Also try using some wooden crates; spray paint them fun colors and mount them on the fence, and then use them to display interesting chachkies like potted plants, statues, candles, and pretty colored bottles. Using repurposed items for décor is both a cost-effective and trendy way to achieve something different.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mix and Match

Keep in mind that you can use two or more of these methods in tandem. Painting your fence a neutral color and then hanging decorations and plants are all beautiful ways to accessorize. Start small and build on key focal points that you really love. The most important part of decorating any fence is to make it be a reflection of yourself. Your garden fence, and of course your garden, will soon mirror your personality, complimenting your home perfectly.


Fences should always be designed and installed so that they withstand strong forces like the elements, animals, and general settling over time.  Thinking about strong winds specifically, there are certain kinds of fencing materials that are superior to others.  Learn what they are in the article below.

Best Fences for Areas With High Winds

Fences are a great way to give your property line a definitive border, to make your yard safer for pets or children, to add curb appeal, or to increase privacy levels. When you install one around the perimeter of your home, you expect that it will be strong and durable enough to stand up to the outdoor elements. If you live in an area prone to high winds, however, you may want to tailor your fence choices accordingly.

Read on as we explore the best fence types to withstand the wear and tear that high winds can have on the structure, as well as tips and tricks for installing and maintaining them.

Picket Fences

Known to be both warm and welcoming, picket fences are probably one of the most common out there, and are highly desirable because they’re aesthetically pleasing. Although these fences don’t necessarily offer much privacy given the openings between slats, it is exactly this feature that makes them a great contender for high wind regions. The openings between slats allow for the wind to pass freely through the structure, minimizing the wear on your fence, even among the windiest conditions. Note that these fences are only ideal for windy conditions when the vertical slats have several inches of space between each of them, as smaller spaces will not let the wind pass freely.

Because picket fences are made of wood, they require maintenance to prevent them from rotting away. While these structures should last 10 to 15 years before requiring replacement, you can lengthen their lifespan by applying a wood preservative to seal it, which will protect it from rain and other natural elements. You should also avoid letting your sprinkler touch your fence and reduce the weight put on it by keeping bushes and vines away.

Iron Fences

Iron fences are a superb option for windy regions because they are extremely sturdy, and the space between iron posts allows for air to freely flow, which ensures that the tension put on your fence is minimized during windy spells. Iron fences are of great quality and are sure to last for years to come, not to mention their regal look that’s guaranteed to up the curb appeal of your home.

One important note about iron fences is that they must be maintained in order to diminish the chance of rusting, which is likely to happen after repeated exposed to rain and humidity. The best defense against rust is prevention. To cut down on the chances of this damage occurring to your iron fence, it should be treated with a protective sealant or a coat of wax. You can also coat it with paint to put a layer between the iron and the air, which is helpful.

Vinyl Fences

Vinyl fences are about five times stronger than wooden options, besides being more flexible. That makes them the perfect choice for windy areas, as they’re less likely than wood to break even in the windiest conditions. This option has other benefits, as well. These types of fences are not susceptible to problems such as termites, rotting, warping, and mold.

Vinyl fences have a long lifespan, but they do need to be maintained. They are prone to grass and even algae stains, and a power washer may not always do the job in getting them clean as a whistle. To renew their look, you can use your garden hose with a sprayer attachment, dish soap, and a non-abrasive scrubbing pad to wipe the structure clean. You should work from the bottom up while cleaning the fence.

If that method doesn’t work on tougher stains, you should substitute the dish soap for bleach. (If you are using this mixture, you might want to wear rubber gloves as you scrub, since bleach can be harsh.) In general, you should mix one part bleach with five parts water to create the cleaning solution. However, darker colored fences require less bleach and lighter shaded ones require more.

Safety and Longevity Tips

When installing any fence, first ensure that you do adequate research and have all buried utility lines located and marked. When choosing the materials of your fence, you want to pick those that will stand up to the test of time. Use treated lumber that is approved for ground contact along with weather-resistant galvanized nails and exterior screws.


 If your fence sags or breaks at a bad time and you need a quick fix while waiting for a fence repair company to come, there are a few things you can do.  However, you will need to use a variety of tools to aid the process so it is helpful to keep these tools on hand at all times before a situation arises.  The article below from Hobby Farms lists several tools to start your supply.  Check it out!

9 Tools You Need For Fixing Fences

You never know what you’re going to get when you go to fix a fence post, so make sure you’re prepared with all the equipment you need.

by J. Keeler Johnson

November 8, 2016

Some farm projects are simple, but fixing fences is rarely one of them. When a fence needs maintenance—either routine work or a quick repair of a damaged section—it can require an impressive array of tools to get the job done. Here are nine tools that I like to have on hand when embarking on any fence-repair project.

1. Electric Drill

After expounding on the virtues of electric drills in a previous column, I have to rank them as one of the most important tools for fixing fences. From drilling holes to screwing things together, an electric drill is essential.

2. Post Hole-Digger Or Auger

During fence repairs, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually need to move or replace fence posts, and having a post hole digger or an auger on hand is the way to go for digging new holes.

3. Digging Bar

Few tools are more useful on a fence-fixing project than a digging bar, my tool of choice for loosening the dirt around posts, prying the posts out of the ground, and later tamping dirt back into place. Being 5 or 6 feet long and made of steel, they’re heavy, but they’re worth it!

4. Shovel

Replacing old fence posts or adding new ones requires moving a lot of dirt. Even if you use a specialty tool for actually digging the hole, you’ll want a shovel on hand for shifting the dirt around and adding it back into the hole once the post is in place.

5. A Lot Of Drill Bits

Remember that summer when you accidentally bought square-head screws instead of your usual star-head screws? It’s not uncommon for fences to have been assembled from a variety of screw types (whatever happened to be handy), so you can save yourself some trips back to the tool shed by bringing along a variety of drill bits …

6. Hammer

… and also a hammer! Just when you think you’ve got all the drill bits you need, you’ll discover that one part of the damaged fence is held together by nails. Use a claw hammer to remove old nails, and bring along a few new ones if you like to use them.

7. Pliers (Multiple Pairs!)

Even massive fences that surround acres of land are made up of tiny components, and these can be troublesome at times. Maybe you tied that knot in the rope a little too tight when you first installed the fence, or maybe you need to hold on to a nut while you tighten a bolt. I always have multiple pairs of pliers on hand, including at least one pair of locking pliers (commonly called vise-grips) that clamp in place and hang on tight without any effort on my part.

8. Wagon

As you can see, fixing fences requires a lot of tools! You’ll want a wagon of some sort (perhaps a yard cart or even a tractor-pulled trailer) to carry all your supplies to and from the work site.

9. Safety Goggles

Although not technically a “tool,” plastic safety goggles are great for protecting your eyes from flying objects (because you never know when you might need to break up a piece of concrete holding an old post in place).



Farms utilize fences for many reasons, but the top priority is keeping animals and livestock within the boundaries.  For that reason alone, it is important to keep fences intact and strong.  If you notice part of your fence is broken or sagging or a gate is broken, use the tips in the article from Hobby Farms below.

6 Fence And Gate Repair Tips

Sometimes the farm fence or gate needs repair. Here are six cost-effective (and easy) fixes for fences and gates on the farm.

by Heather Smith Thomas

February 18, 2009

Keeping fences and gates in good repair is an important part of maintaining a farm, whether large or small.

Good fences help keep livestock safely housed: A sagging fence or gate, broken wires, and downed or loose poles may tempt animals to make a break for it—out on a busy road or into hostile territory—possibly injuring or killing themselves in the process.

Here are a few simple and inexpensive tips to help make fence and gate repair easier.

Tightening Wire with a Hammer

When mending a wire fence—such as tightening sagging wires or splicing broken wires back together—a fence stretcher is nice, but a simple carpenter’s hammer will also do the job. To repair a fence with broken wire, you may need to add extra wire—a short piece (one to two feet long) of smooth wire—to make your splicing task easier. The additional material gives you enough wire to loop the ends of the broken section and make a “hammer roll” to pull it tight.

To start the splice, make a loop in one end of the broken wire and run an additional piece of material through the loop. Place the hammer against the wire and anchor the loose end between the hammer claw. Then roll the wire around the hammer, making as many twists as necessary to get the wire very tight.

Once the wire is taut, untwist the hammer, leaving the wire tight where it bends. Then you can go ahead and twist the remainder of the loose ends, finishing your splice. Using the hammer this way, you can pull the wire much tighter than you can by hand, making the bend in the wire tight enough to hold until you can finish it off by wrapping it around itself.

Tips for Tightening and Splicing

    1. Make a loop in one end of the wire and pull the other end through it.
    2. Anchor the loose end between the hammer’s claw.
    3. Twist the hammer so the wire wraps around it.
    4. Keep twisting until the wire is as tight as you want it.
    5. Untwist the hammer, leaving the wire still tight where it bends.
    6. Take the hammer off the wire, leaving the tight crimp to hold the wire tight.
    7. Finish the splice by wrapping the end of the wire tightly around itself.

Chicken Wire to Protect Wood Fences

If you have horses, you’ll find they like to chew on posts and poles, especially if they are confined in a small area. Horses that grow up in big pastures don’t develop the wood-chewing habit as readily, but if they are kept in small pastures or pens without enough room to roam or grass to graze, they almost always chew wood. Some horses will ruin a good fence in a short time, eating clear through posts or poles.

However, wooden fences are usually safer for horses than barbed wire, metal posts and other types of unforgiving fence material, but they must be protected from chewing or they won’t last long. Wood preservatives and foul-tasting applications used by many horse owners to protect fences will deter some chewers, but not all. Some horses will chew wood regardless of how hard you try to discourage them. In addition to being poor deterrents, some “anti-chew” remedies are toxic—old motor oil, for instance, contains lead which is highly poisonous.

One way to keep horses away from wood fencing is to use an electric wire in conjunction with the fencing—the “hot” wire is installed inside the fence line, adequately spaced, so that horses can’t reach the wood without first getting a “zap.” This works well in pastures or large pens, but is often not advisable in a small area where horses (or people) may inadvertently bump into the hot wire—or be forced into it by overly playful or aggressive animals.

A better way to protect wood fences that enclose a pen or corral is to cover the wood with small-mesh chicken wire. To do this, use tin snips to cut the chicken wire into strips sized to completely cover the exposed portions of the wood. Posts, poles or boards in a pen or paddock can be protected this way because a horse cannot, or will not chew through the chicken wire.

The chicken wire can be stapled to a post or pole at frequent intervals so there are no loose patches or sharp protrusions—just a smooth surface that the horse can’t grab hold of. It takes quite a few staples to secure the wire properly to ensure that there are no loose edges or pieces of wire sticking out that might otherwise attract curious horses. To avoid injuries, all cut edges should be carefully tucked. Use staples that are large enough to hold securely and not pull out. Wood covered with small-mesh chicken wire is not accessible for chewing, and it is not pleasant (abrasive on the teeth) so horses tend to leave it alone. To help maintain your fencing, a non-toxic wood preservative, such as log oil, can be applied to the posts and poles periodically with a brush, even after the chicken wire is installed.

Chicken wire is inexpensive and a roll will cover a lot of fence. But your installation time will be a factor. However, when you weigh these costs against replacing poles, boards and posts—or rebuilding corrals and pens—you’ll find that chicken wire is a thrifty way to prolong the life of your wooden fences.

Fixing a Sagging Gate

A wooden or metal gate can become a heavy burden to open and close if it begins to sag and drag on the ground. Gate posts should be sturdy and set deep to avoid sagging. But unless the posts are set in concrete, even well-constructed gates can drag because posts can “give” over time. In some areas, the ground is unstable and won’t hold a post well, especially for a heavy gate. For example, frost can push posts upward, making them less secure. Occasionally a simple pole panel is used as a gate in an opening that does not have a sturdy post for hanging a proper gate. Having to lift or drag the panel to open and shut can be a back-breaking chore. These problems can be solved, however, by putting a small wheel underneath the moving end of a panel or sagging gate. The wheel takes all the weight and supports a gate or panel to prevent further sagging and enables easy opening and closing.

Just about any type of small wheel will work for this purpose. On our gates we have used old wheelbarrow tires and small metal wheels—the kind you sometimes find in old junk piles or salvage from a piece of ancient farm equipment. A wheelbarrow tire can be easily adapted by bolting the uprights (or even just one of them—the piece of metal that comes down either side of the tire to hold its small axle) to a wooden or pole gate.

An old wheel or tire with any kind of long axle attached to it can also be securely wired to a metal gate by fastening the axle to the bottom rail or pipe. If you use stiff, strong wire and secure each end of the axle (close to the wheel and at the opposite end), the wheel will stay solidly in place and the weight of the gate will not alter the angle of the wheel much, if at all. You want it securely attached so the wheel or tire will stay upright, with no wobble. Then it will roll freely and easily on the ground, taking the weight of the gate without binding or catching.

Easy Fix for a Gate Latch

Metal gates are handy in pens and pastures, and some of these have latches that work with a handle that is pulled or pushed. Typically, the latch is a metal prong that inserts into a hole in an adjacent post when the gate is shut; to open this type of gate, the latch is usually pulled to release from the post. These latches work fine if the posts are solid and never move. Sometimes, however, posts can shift over time, and latches no longer reach them.

A simple way to fix this without having to reset posts or rehang gates is to securely nail two small poles or boards on both sides of the latch hole on a gate post. Then the metal latch (when shut) will insert between the two poles or boards and “catch” to hold the gate closed.

Electric Fence Gate Crossing

If you use electric fencing around horse or livestock pens and pastures, you’ll generally have an insulated handle on every gate so you can open and close without getting zapped. On frequently used gates, you may find it easier to install a tall pole on each side of the gate, so you can route the electric wire up over the gate, high enough that people, animals and large machinery will not touch the hot wire.

However, if you do use insulated gate handles, always situate the handle on the end toward the fence charger, so that the gate “wire” will have no electricity because it’s disconnected from the charger when the handle is undone and the gate is open. This way if the hot wire gets looped over the wooden or metal gate, or thrown on the ground while open, it won’t shock anyone or short out and possibly start a fire in dry grass or weeds.

If the hot wire is spanning a metal gate, the wire may become a nuisance at times if it happens to touch the metal while the gate is closed and short out the electric fence—or electrify the gate and shock anyone  who touches or tries to open it. It can be tricky to open and shut a metal gate if you forget to unhook the electric handle. Even if the electric wire and its insulated handle are a few inches away from the metal gate, the wind may sometimes cause the wire to touch the gate.

A good way to eliminate any chance of having the hot wire touch the gate is to put that segment of wire through an old garden hose. Cut the hose to match the length of the metal gate—with a couple inches to spare on each end so there’s never any danger of the wire touching the gate. The rubber or plastic hose will adequately insulate the wire where it travels along the gate, to prevent any shorts or shocks.

If the wire you use for the gate portion is somewhat stiff, it’s not difficult to gently push it through the length of hose, and then attach the electric fence handle to the end of it.

Easy-close Gate Idea

Occasionally a gate may be made of wire rather than metal or wood. Wire gates (made of netting, or six to eight strands of wire, with “stays” to keep the wire properly spaced) can sometimes become difficult to close, especially if they are tight gates that livestock can’t get through. One way to make such a gate easier to close is to put a handle on the gate post to give you more leverage for pulling it shut.

A metal handle with a wire loop attached can be securely fastened to the top of the gate post by means of a flat platform that is bolted onto the post. The handle, when open, with the wire loop attached, gives you an extra 12 to 18 inches of reach for shutting the gate, eliminating the struggle to get the end of the gate into the wire loop.

Then when the gate end (small upright post) is put into the loop, you can use the handle for leverage, pushing it up and over, which automatically tightens the gate and brings it up snug to the post. When it’s closed, and the metal handle is folded back over the top of the gate post, it can be secured with a pin in a raised metal tab to keep the handle from ever popping up or opening accidentally due to cows and horses scratching against it.

For a barnyard or pasture gate that needs to be nice and tight, yet still easy to open and close, this arrangement works very well, especially for those of us who don’t have long, strong arms for getting the gate shut.

This article first appeared in the February/March 2003 issue of Hobby Farms magazine.


Get the most out of your outdoor space this summer by transforming it.  After getting the much desired privacy by adding a fence to enclose your yard, make it even more inviting by using some of the ideas in this article.  From lighting to furniture, you can easily create an outdoor living space that is inexpensive and eco-friendly with recycled materials.

10 Ways to Update Your Outdoor Space

Jul 19th 2014 9:03AM

By Laura Gaskill

Been gazing out at your backyard, wishing you could spruce up your hangout space? You don’t need to spend a lot to make a big difference in the way your outdoor rooms look and feel; you can whip up furnishings and decor, hunt for vintage bargains and make smart choices about new purchases. Here are 10 ideas for updating your space on a dime.

1. Hang a vintage sign. One big, statement-making piece is enough to bring an outdoor room into focus. Hunt through the stalls at local flea markets or search online to find a sign that speaks to you. Spending a little more than you’re used to on this one item can actually be worth it, because it will make everything around it look instantly cooler.
2. Rig up a sawhorse table. Need a table fast? Head to the hardware store. A pair of sturdy sawhorses topped with a door slab makes a quick dining table that can be taken down and stored when not in use. Paint the sawhorses and tabletop, or simply cover the whole thing with a giant tablecloth.
3. Cover an imperfect patio with a colorful rug. Cheap and cheerful plastic outdoor rugs are perfect for covering up less-than-perfect brickwork or cracked cement.
4. Hunt down a used outdoor fireplace. These homeowners found the cool outdoor fireplace shown here for $100 on Craigslist. Keep an eye out – you might get lucky! Also try searching for used fire bowls, patio furniture and big planters. You won’t know what’s out there unless you look.
5. Make some furniture with salvaged pallets. Stacked wood pallets can make an almost-instant outdoor bench, love seat or daybed. You can buy salvaged pallets, find them on Craigslist or see if local stores have any they want to get rid of. Paint them first if you want, then top them with thick cushions and toss pillows.
6. Hang outdoor curtains. Look beyond the catalogs to find ideas for whipping up your own outdoor curtains on a budget – painter’s drop cloths, cute shower curtains and tablecloths can all work. If you don’t want to sew, purchase a grommet-making kit and pop in grommets along the top side of your fabric, then simply hang it from any curtain rod.
7. Use a coffee table and poufs in your backyard hangout. Poufs on sale can be quite a bit cheaper than dining chairs, and they make for a fun twist when entertaining. Less formal than a dining table and chairs, and more convivial than an outdoor living room, the intimate setup here encourages chatting, snacking and sipping.
8. Choose gravel instead of stone. Gravel costs far less to install than pavers or other hardscaping, and can look just as chic. For a beach-inspired twist, try spreading crushed oyster shells instead of gravel – if you live on the coast, it may be cheaper than gravel, too.
9. Make a table from tree stumps. Four solid trunk sections make a sturdy table base when trimmed to the same height. Set an old wooden door or scrap-wood slab on top, no nailing required.
10. Never underestimate the power of café lights. A strand or two of outdoor café lights (the kind with large bulbs and exposed filaments) is a can’t-miss way to bring life to an outdoor seating area. If you do not have access to outlets, hang solar-powered string lights instead.

It’s the time of year where people begin to plan how to spruce up their outdoor spaces to enjoy in the warmer months.  A fence is a great addition to any yard for privacy, increased security (especially for pets), and curb appeal.  However, the decision can be made difficult because there are so many options of fencing materials and designs available. The two most popular materials are wood and metal.  If you can’t choose between the two, this article from might help.

Wood Fence Panels vs Metal Fence Panels

It’s time to put up that fence, but there are so many choices to choose from when it comes to wood fence panels and metal fence panels that it’s hard to make a decision. The below information explores the various pros and cons of choosing wood or metal for your fence panels.

Wood Is Most Popular

You will find that wood, even today, is the most popular choice for fence options. Most fences you come across will be made of wood.

Wood Is Easy

Wood is easy to work with. Wood is mainly worked with using only a hammer and nails. It’s also easy to find. Lumber yards and local home supply shops will carry new wood, or wood can be salvaged from old homes and projects for a different look. Different sizes, different treatments and different looks are available.

Wood Is Eco-friendly

Wood is a natural material, and is renewable. Basically if you want to get down to it, when you are working with wood, you are really working with trees.

Wood Is Not so Durable

Wood is not as durable as metal. Wood will be subject to insects, rot, and old age, making it weak.  While there are treatments ad protectants available, wood will eventually fall pray to damage.

Wood Is at Risk from Heavy Weather

Wood can be damaged by any weather if not treated right, but the best treatments cannot protect a wood fence from high winds or heavy snow.

Metal Has Options

There are different kinds of metals you can use for your fence. There is aluminum, wrought iron, and chain link. Each have their benefits, and each have their downfalls.

Metal Can Rust

Most metal materials actually will not rust. The exception is wrought iron, which is prone to rust. Rust will create structural weaknesses over time. Wrought iron must be painted regularly to protect it from rust.

The Look of Metal

Wrought iron is beautiful, very pleasing to the eye. Aluminum gives the look of wrought iron and is also pleasing to the eye, even though it doesn’t give you a wide variety of colors to choose from. Chain link, however, is not so pretty. We’ve all seen chain link and it will never win an award for any designing competition. However, there are chain links that are coated with vinyl in different colors, so it may add a little character to it.

Metal Is Strong

Most metal materials are very strong. Aluminum is the exception. Aluminum is to be seen and not touched. If you are looking for a fence that your kids can touch without worry, aluminum would not be the choice for you. Wrought iron and chain link, however, are very strong and can withstand a lot.

Some Metals Make Better DIY Projects than Others

Choosing the right material is up to you, and if actually installing your fence is something you wish to finish yourself, choosing either aluminum or chain link is the right metal material to go with. Wrought iron should have some soldering done, which makes it a little more complicated on your part.

Hopefully you are feeling more confident in choosing which material is right for you. Weigh out the above information,and just remember that the material needs to do exactly what you are looking for.

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