Anyone ever build a wattle fence?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Ravenlost, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    After looking through some gardening books the other night hubby and I have decided to build a wattle fence around my garden. We have lots of willows and other small trees to thin out so all materials are free. :bouncy:

    Any pointers on building a wattle fence? Seems pretty easy, but I'm wondering just how long it will take us to construct it. My garden space is about a half acre and the wattle fence will be around three sides (back is horse fencing).
     
  2. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    I took this two years ago when we were driving around Hudson's Hope, BC, about 80 km from our place. We were thinking about making a fence like this around the garden . . . sort of changed our mind . . . still like it though better than our 7'-0" high barbed wire garden fence.

    [​IMG]
    Is this what you mean?

    OH well enjoy anyway,

    All the best,

    Alex
     

  3. Thatch

    Thatch Well-Known Member

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    Well if your copicing your willows you'll be set. It takes lots of staves to make but once you have a form they go together fairly easily. Your form (not the traditional name, can't recall that off hand) has the holes drilled for your verticle staves in an arc so that once the wattle is complete and you remove it it pulls itself back straight and in the process tightens the whole section. It's also good to build with a "window" these allow the wattles to be carried on a staff if you want/need to change your fenced area around. Of course if you'r not moving your fenced area it's not an issue.

    I'll have to look through my books to see what US publication books I have on the topic that are good. Most of my reference books are UK pubs, which would be hard to come by in the US.

    J
     
  4. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

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    I made a wattle-type fence when I was a kid. I didn't make anything in sections to be moved around. I just pounded the bigger sticks in the ground about every 2 feet and wove the smaller sticks in between them.

    A word of caution. If you try this with green willow branches, they may (probably will) take root and sprout where you plant them.
     
  5. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would love to have a live wattle fence, but hubby cut most of the willow last Fall so I don't think any of it will take root.

    Alex, that's very similar to what I have in mind (only horizontal) but my fence will only be just over waist high...mostly for decorative reasons and as a boundary for the garden space (I plan to plant climbing veggies and flowers on it).

    Thatch...you lost me! What you described sounds much more complicated than what I pictured in my mind. I was planning to pound posts well into the ground and then just weave smaller branches between them. Not planning to ever move this fence.

    :help:
     
  6. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    What Thatch is talking about is called a 'hurdle'. They were used by shepherds to create a moveable fold for sheep.
     
  7. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We made a small one like that, just for fun. Pound the willows in upside down and they won't sprout (or put them in the right way up if you want them to grow). The biggest problem is stability and rot. Ours lasted about 3 years in a sheltered spot with some live saplings as posts (deer ran through it and brought it down this winter). I think you would have to build it in a zig-zag pattern to make it more stable over a long stretch.
     
  8. Thatch

    Thatch Well-Known Member

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    Well yes, hurdles are often movable but the permanent fence sections are typically still made in a form and then attached to posts for permenant placement as well. You can build them in situ with continuous woven fencing but the lack of the curved form will keep you from getting the weave as tight as possible, which ultimately will effect longevity. Hurdles are a better way to control the integrity of the fence.

    You can of course just put some pole in the ground and start weaving them together but the craft of wattle/hurdle fencing is a bit more involved then that. It all depends on how long you want your effort to last. If you make it in sections each willow "weaver" (the horizontal sticks) are turned back on itself and create a complete unit. If you have a problem down the road it will be an issue of one hurdle needing to be replaced or potentialy a much larger section.

    I'd suggest reading up on the topic.

    J
     
  9. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    I'd never heard of a wattle fence...that's cool! Glad you posted a pic, Alex.
     
  10. country_wife

    country_wife Evil Poptart

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    We built a wattle fence last summer..talk about tedious! It is not as easy as it looks. But ours was for the chicken pen and getting the branches in tight enough was the problem..gaps let critters in and out. If you are doing it for decoration, you don't have to build a tight fence. They do look nice and are fun if you have the patience..which I lack. :cool:
     
  11. wilderness1989

    wilderness1989 Well-Known Member

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    After I built some fence for my cattle I became interested in different kinds of fences. You'll find out what I mean after you start building. While driving across the Country of Texas I found the most interesting fences built of just what was around. Wire fences and wooden fences but the most interesting were all different types of wattle fences made with what was available. I wish I would have stopped and take pictures. If you travel across Texas you should find it interesting.
    :cowboy:
     
  12. Thatch

    Thatch Well-Known Member

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    This isn't a great photo in that it doesn't illustrate the arc alignment of the holes I was talking about before however it does show some other good points.

    [​IMG]

    First off, obviously you can see that he is using a form. Railroad ties work well for this. The holes are drilled in a gentle arc (again, so that when removed the section pulls tight). You can also see that he is turning the weavers back in on themselves, rounding the end stave and weaving it back into the hurdle. Obvioulsy this is going to make the hurdle resist coming appart. The other thing to note is that he doesn't start the weavers at the end of the hurdle, but in the middle. Also, you can see that the last weaver ls left long till the next weaver is put into place so that there is somewhere to tuck the end of the previous weaver into.

    This appears to be made of hazle. It should be noted that often times these hurdles are both started and ended with willow of a smaller diameter. The willow, though woven in a similar fashion is able to be woven tighter.

    Once the individual hurdles are made they can either be used as temporary movable fencing or afixed to permenant posts. If you are making them to be movable the first and last stave are kept long (about 8-10") and are cut to a point so that each hurdle can be stuck into the ground.

    J
     
  13. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Well, this is just exciting! I think I want one around my garden this year. Perhaps a live one that I clip back. Wonder if my garden is too small? A short one may work better so that it doesn't block the sunshine...
     
  14. Dubai Vol

    Dubai Vol Well-Known Member

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    That's a great pic (and explanation) Thatch, thanks for posting it.
     
  15. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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  16. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks Thatch! That photo cleared it up for me.

    It rained during the night so everything should be perfect for us to get started this weekend.
     
  17. Thatch

    Thatch Well-Known Member

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    no problem. Good luck with the fence.

    J
     
  18. Salmonberry

    Salmonberry Registered Nut

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    "The Budget Gardener" by Maureen Gilmer shows a quicker alternative if time is an issue. She suggests weaving branches vertically into wire field fencing. Its not as attractive, but looks better than just field fencing.

    Salmonberry
     
  19. Dry Bridge

    Dry Bridge Well-Known Member

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    We started on one of these fences this weekend for our garden (intending for it to be only about 40 inches tall).

    Agree with folks that it is labor intensive, and unless you have a ready supply of trees such as willows it will be incredibly difficult to close up the gaps.

    We started with 3 ft spacing on our verticals, but found that 2ft spacing is probably the best option for your vertical post (although this restricts using larger trees for your bottom horizontals). Best recommendation - focus on one wall at a time...don't attempt to lay out multiple walls, as you'll probably run out of materials and end up with less than half a fence.

    Our purpose for the fence is: Primarily decorative (so as not to detract from 150yr. old farmhouse), to keep dogs out, to inhibit the would be trespasser (ducks/ chickens...etc.) from casually entering the garden plot.

    Paul B.
    Paul B.
     
  20. jlrbhjmnc

    jlrbhjmnc Ouch! Pinch you. Supporter

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    There is a video of either Victorian Farm or Edwardian Farm where they make either wattles or hurdles - but it looked just like the photo in post #12.