Trellis and Wire Fences
When creating a garden setting, it often best to keep unnatural items to a minimum. The additions of fountains and benches are useful, but these accents should not overrun the garden. The idea for structural additions is that they should always be temporary.
The use of a wire fence should not be permanent, but should be used as a hedge is growing. At the points where the wires start and end, the posts should be heavy and well strutted, to enable sufficient tension to be put on the wire to make it taut. The intermediate posts may be lighter, but should be firmly planted to ensure they remain upright.
Barbed wire needs to be avoided. Instead consider ordinary iron telephone wire. This can be attached to the posts by “screw eyes”, which should be galvanized. You can also just pass it through the holes made by a gimlet, and knotting up the protruding end.
The stretching is best managed with a block and tackle, but if you do not have such a device, you may make shift with an extemporized lever. When the wire is taut, you should knock the end with a hammer close to the hole and turn wire around a stout nail two or three times. You can rub the kinks and bends out of the wire with the handle of the hammer, while it is taut, just before the final tightening.
There are really only two good types of fencing to use when trying to enclose the garden. In the all-rail pattern the post heads are made separately and nailed on, their purpose being to protect the end grain of the post from the weather. A temporary fence can be made from a rough unbarked cedar or other timber that may be readily and cheaply.
A lattice or rustic fence is a short lived fence, and often rather monotonous. It often looks better with the addition of a top rail. A better type one in when the posts are made of unbarked cedar, and the side and top rails of the same halved. Ordinary iron cut nails may be used with advantage, as their "rusting-in" makes them hold much better.
Make sure you keep your lines straight, from point to point, by using a stretching guide for fixing the posts. The tops of the posts should be adjusted in line by sighting, two T pieces being fixed as levels to work from at each end. Spacing of posts depend upon the design of your garden, of the fence and the length of timber purchased for the rails, but ten feet is the maximum advisable, and less is better. There are also all kinds of iron fencing, which are suitable for the garden.
A trellis is a good idea for a garden setting, but you should be aware of some rules. A trellis that is already made is so cheap that is does not pay to create on at home. Make sure you provide extra strength for your trellis as they are not strong and they are flimsy. Make sure all the edges are supported, and secure them to the frame with nails.
The practice of leaving a raw edge at the top is sloppy, and causes the premature decay of the trellis. All trellises should be painted several coats of a good oil color that is worked into the angles at the crossings, as rain finds its way in at these points and can decay the trellis. The diagonal pattern has come to be so common that most gardeners accept it without question, but you can choose other patterns as well.
If you can use tools and have some creativity, you can try your hand at making a "woven trellis" using cleft oak laths. To begin this project, you need to design squares of adequate size to allow the laths to bend easily. You will need to pin them at the crossings with oak pegs. A trellis of this kind does not require painting and it has a character of its own which makes it much more beautiful than the machine made trellises. You can also omit interlacing and join the laths in the ordinary way, either with pegs or galvanized nails.