New DIY project – Mini picket fence and landscaping rocks !

The 12 foot section is 75% complete. The side panel to the right will be placed in last.

A few weeks ago, I went out the front door, and I noticed the impending invasion of the Bermuda grass on top of the river rock that frames the front of the house. Taking a closer look over all, I noticed the picket fence was getting a bit old looking. Looks like its another DIY (do it yourself) project. Good, I like staying busy.

The old mini picket fence, rusting screws and dingy paint.
The old mini picket fence, rusting screws and dingy paint. The Bermuda grass invades the rocks without a fight. This do it yourself project would take about a week to complete. Geesh that 20 foot run is crooked as heck. Yeah. Time to redo.

I decided to rip up the 20 foot section of fence and spray the area down with Round-up Extended version. In that 20 by 5 foot area, I spread out two gallons of Round-up and two days later, the battle with the Bermuda grass was won, at least on the rocks.

Bermuda grass can invade an area quickly, and difficult to get rid of. Round-up Extended formula did the trick.
Bermuda grass can invade an area quickly, and difficult to get rid of. Round-up Extended formula did the trick.

I wanted to come up with a way to keep the grass in general in check, and keep the fence up since it helps keep the people delivering the mail from cutting across the rocks and scattering rocks  as they go for the mail box.

I knew the answer, but it would be a semi-painful event. I recently bought a John Deere E130. With that purchase came a promotional dump cart. I asked my son to assist in grabbing some landscaping rocks from the back yard, which were circling some bushes. They were originally there to help the bushes along,  keeping the dirt in place as the bushes got settled in and expanded the root system.

The next day, I come home from work, and my son was outside, looked a bit spent.  He had the John Deere Lawn tractor out in the front, loaded with landscaping rocks. I got out of the truck, donned some gloves and started to pile landscaping rocks off to the side. I thanked him for getting them remaining rocks, as I was using a utility cart, getting 5-8 per trip. After two trips, I knew there was a better way. That’s why I opted for the John Deere E130 and the dump cart, it was a winning combination. This WILL come in very handy on the list of DIY projects I want to complete before winter sets in.

I decided to place a few of the landscaping rocks under the old fence to see if I could make this work. My only concern was that the fence would be about 6-8 inches higher, and it would hide the clay pots from the road. Eh, it would be a small price to pay if I can keep the grass out of the rocks and give the landscaping a nice uniform look.

Placing a few landscaping rocks under the old fence to see if the effect.
Placing a few landscaping rocks under the old fence to see the effect.

Whoa Nellie…. These rocks were quite dingy with dirt. I decided to give the rocks a well deserved bath. I have a extendable brush that I use to wash the truck and tralier with, so put that on a hose and turn the water on low. The scrubbing didn’t take long, but the drying would. It was hot outside, probably near 85 degrees F, and it would take a while for the landscaping bricks to dry.

Scrubbing the rocks will get rid of the dirt and allow the paint to adhere to the rock better.
Scrubbing the rocks will get rid of the dirt and allow the paint to adhere to the rock better. After about an hour, the rocks were about 25% dry. I decided to let them sit overnight.
Spacing out the rocks made it a lot easier to scrub all of the dirt off. Scrubbing about 45 rocks took about an hour.
Spacing out the rocks made it a lot easier to scrub all of the dirt off. Scrubbing about 45 rocks took about an hour.

OK, this looks like a winner idea. But the color is awful drab, and I wanted a bit more of a red, to accent the maroon shutters on the creme colored house. So off to Lowe’s I went and picked up two gallons of patio and cement paint. The paint was on sale, effectively 50% off each gallon, with online rebates. I chose a brick red color, and started painting a few rocks. Below is the comparison of how they looked before, and how they would look with a new thick coat of paint on the landscaping rocks.

 

Here is a comparison of the landscaping rocks without and with new paint. That brick red definitely looks better.
Here is a comparison of the landscaping rocks without and with new paint. That brick red definitely looks better.

As the paint dries upon the bricks, now comes playing with wood. The front yard has two sections I need to do. If facing the house, the right side is 12 feet wide. The area to the left is 20 feet wide. I decided to work on the 12 foot section first making sure I like the overall appearance before I pushed all in on the larger 20 foot area.

I decided to make two 6 foot sections of fence so it would look even.  With the 6 foot 2×4’s cut and painted, I simply place the 24-inch picket at each end. Framing the outside, I then made sure the frame was square and level. Once that was done, the rest of the job was making sure the measurements were good. I used a 4.25 inch wood spacer between each picket and it worked out pretty good.

The six foot mini picket fence to be used on the 12 foot area.
The six foot mini picket fence to be used on the 12 foot area.

Geesh, I painted a lot of landscaping rocks. I realized these were about a foot long, which meant I would need many. On the 12 foot section, I would need 17 painted landscaping rocks. On the 20 foot section, I would need 25 landscaping rocks. The days were hot, which aided in painting the rocks. But my tolerance to heat isn’t the best and I took many breaks and drank plenty of water. Geesh these things looked like meatloaf, one of my favorite meals. I promised myself a massive dinner with meatloaf and smashed potatoes when this is 100% complete !

Painting the landscaping rocks took quite a while. These long days, doing some sweat equity, I promised myself a large Meatloaf and smashed potato dinner when its 100% complete !!
Painting the landscaping rocks took quite a while. These long days, doing some sweat equity, I promised myself a large Meatloaf and smashed potato dinner when its 100% complete !!

While the landscaping rocks were drying, I ripped up the front side of the 12 foot section of fence. Once 12 landscaping rocks were dry, I cleaned out a trench, pushing the river rock back in order to manipulate the rock line better.

ooooooh. that Red on the lansdscaping rock looks sexy. With the dark green emerald grass, it looks impressive.
ooooooh. that Red on the lansdscaping rock looks sexy. With the dark green emerald grass, it looks impressive.

I decided to stand up the mini picket fence upon the rock to get an idea what the finished product would look like. My son wandered outside to see what I was doing, and I got him to assist in placing the metal posts so I could make this a done deal.

The 12 foot section is 75% complete. The side panel to the right will be placed in last.
The 12 foot section is 75% complete. The side panel to the right will be placed in last.

Sweet ! It gave me motivation to keep going. The sun was going down, but the temperature was still hovering over 80 degrees F. I took my time and cleared out the trench where the landscaping rock had to be. I placed the landscaping rocks down squared them up pretty decent and was happy with the way it was coming along.

The landscaping rocks were in place on the 20 foot section. Now I needed some wood for this side of the project.
The landscaping rocks were in place on the 20 foot section. Now I needed some wood for this side of the project.

I went back to Lowe’s and seen 2×4’s that were ten feet long and bought 6 of those home. This way the 20 foot section only needs two sections, vice three. I decided to cut up some more pickets, paint the wood and create a 10 foot section of fence. With the sky a dusky dark, I decided to give the project a break. I deserved a shower and a night out. I went to my favorite eatery and decided on a decent cut of prime rib dinner. After that, I came home and was truly relaxed and ready for a well deserved rest.

One of the two 10 foot fence runs is done. I will do the other section early in the morning and beat the impending heat – it’s supposed to be in the 90F+ range tomorrow.

One of two sections of 10 foot mini picket fence is done. The project is coming along nicely and without any hiccups.
One of two sections of 10 foot mini picket fence is done. The project is coming along nicely and without any hiccups.

I’ll complete this post when the project itself is done – before I get the meatloaf dinner. I hope to have it done this Memorial Day weekend. I have the Red and White readily available, and the Blue comes with a touch of nature.

The Red, White and Blue is complete. The new landscaping bricks and fence line will be completed real soon !
The Red, White and Blue is complete. The new landscaping bricks and fence line will be completed real soon !

Today is Sunday 26 May, and the weather guessers have decided to call for a 30% chance of rain this afternoon. Some storms are popping up, so I decided to not wait until tomorrow to do what I have to do.  Last night was a thunder and lightning show from about midnight to 4 am.  So at 9:30 am I went out and started to work on this project. I was up a tad bit late, but I wanted to see if I could get the last 10 feet of fence created.

At 9:30 am it’s close to 85 degrees outside, and I opted for creating the fence line in the garage so I could be a tad bit cooler.  In about an hour or so, I had the fence built. It took about that long to set the fence, align it and then use some support posts to secure it in place.

Alignment looks good. It looks incredible compared to the last fence line. That old three section fence looked really misaligned.
Alignment looks good. It looks incredible compared to the last fence line. That old three section fence looked really misaligned.

The view from the corner of the lot looks great. The last thing I have to do are the end caps, one on each end of the fence line and the job is complete. Lowe’s is having a sale on paint through the weekend, so I will get the boards and paint I need to complete that last section and call it done. Overall, the project wasn’t that hard, just a lot of sweat equity and patience.

The view of the fence line in place. The only thing left are some small end caps that go on the extreme right and left sides.
The view of the fence line in place. The only thing left are some small end caps that go on the extreme right and left sides. The left over landscaping bricks will be used in a back yard project that will be when the weather breaks and its a lot cooler.

For this project, I had left over 2×4’s and pickets from doing my picket fence last fall. The only extra costs were six 2x4x10 lumber and two gallons of brick red patio and concrete paint. A pretty good project, in a about a week, mainly part time, except for a Saturday and a few hours on Sunday.  One more Do It Yourself Project complete.

Time for a Meatloaf and Smashed Potato reward meal  !!  =)

2018 Spring Project #1 – Picket fence replacement

Picket fence in front of the house has been completed for a few weeks. Soon two-thirds of the project will be complete !

It appears all of a sudden once I had returned from Valencia, Spain trip I now have a lot of free time on my hands. In the Winter of 2017, my plan was to replace some picket fence line which is more than 6 years old. The property has fence line on the left and right side of the fence that measures over 120 feet long.

The back of the property line is about 75 feet wide. The front of the house has close to 50 feet of fence as well.

Mind you, I started this project March 26. 2018. I have completed about 75 feet of fencing in the front yard. The street side run of 125 feet will be completed when good weather returns. There is only 12 feet left to do. It’s now April 15th 2018. Its some pretty good progress considering time to purchase raw wood, paint it all with 2-3 coats of paint and then hang all this lumber. About 75% of the time, this was done solo. But two-thirds of the picket fence project is complete.

The back property line is completed. The only big job will be the remaining 120 foot run on the left hand side of the property.

Th front of the house showing five sections of new picket fence. The old picket fence to the right, is older and much lower.
Th front of the house showing five sections of new picket fence. The old picket fence to the right, is older and much lower.

I was sitting here contemplating if I should put up a 6 to 8 foot high privacy fence in the backyard area. I see alot of pro’s and cons to both. Most of the pro’s relate to privacy and security where as the cons are focused on sweat equity and replacing about 24 to 30 4×4 posts that are currently cut down to hold the current picket fence.

As I put up this picket fence, I am not cutting the boards down this time. The original board length will be used.

height comparison between the new fence and the old. The new picket fence will stand about 6 inches higher than the old picket fence.
height comparison between the new fence and the old. The new picket fence will stand about 6 inches higher than the old picket fence.

I will do the smart thing and start replacing the picket fence in the front of my house first. The original posts still look decent although they definately need a new coat of paint throughout. The posts have been whipped by the weed whackers and alot of the paint fom the grassline down is missing. No big deal, but it is one more small job associated with this project.

The gothic pickets come without any paint on them. So I decided to buy some Maximum paint/stain which will seal the picket. This paint/stain comes in 5 gallon buckets, it is heavy and it costs about $170 US dollars for 5 gallons, or about $34.00 a gallon. So far, I have painted (12) 2x4x96 horizontal boards, and rounghly 120 pickets. All that have been painted so far have 2 to 3 really thick coats of paint on them, and as far as I can tell, I have about 2.5 gallons of paint left. Eventually these will receive another coat of paint when a run of fence is completed. I don’t mind using as much paint as needed, especially if this fence will hold up well for another 10 years or so.

Olympic Maximum stain and paint good for 10 years
Olympic Maximum stain and paint good for 10 years

 

The first time I put up the picket fence, I aimed for a wide spread and shortened the pickets down. This time I am going to leave the pickets at their original length and lessen the gap between each picket. I have already started this project in the front of the house this week when the temperatures finally broke and we had two days over 60 degrees.

The idea is to figure that most 4×4 posts in the ground will be the same distance. I have a lot of the posts close to 8 feet apart, which is ideal. I then attach two douglas fir 2 inch by 4 inch lumber onto the posts so I can secure the pickets to them. From this 96 inch spacing, I subtract 3 inches from each end. I use this 90 inch area as my usable picket area. I try to adjust the spacing so the 90 inches of usable board length divided by the spacing comes out to a whole number, or close to it.

I want to try to keep pickets from appearing in front of the posts, just in case I decide to use some sort of fancy post cap to dress up the fence. I want to make sure they are seen, but for the people – mainly kids – looking to tweak or mess with the caps, the spacing should be just enough to give a hint that the cap exists.

For those thinking about changing up a fence line, you can either pay someone a lot of money to do it for you, or you can do it yourself. The choice is up to you.
I will attempt to show you the steps that I use which work for my situation. I will show the steps of what I have done and write up some comments at the bottom of the photos.

The first thing I do is measure the distance between the two posts. I measure dead center on each posts. Typically this is 96 inches. Since this is a fence re-fresh and not a total fence replacement, I am going to use the same basic height for the 2 inch by 4 inch by 96 inch douglas fir lumber. I asked a wood professional about the type of wood that can be used off the ground that if a coat of paint/stain was applied would last a decent length of time. He highly recommended the Douglas Fir 2x4x96 inches so that is what I went with.

Once the two horizontal 2×4’s were in place, I had to decide on the spacing between the pickets. The old spacing was a little over 5 inches wide. This would allow enough room for some one to put their foot in between the pickets and hop over the fence. Mind you, the old pickets were cut down by 6 inches or more, and that would have aided in people being able to jump the fence. I decided on a 3.5 inch spacing between the pickets.

With a higher picket, this will close up the gap just a bit and offer a bit more privacy. I already noticed this when I looked at the photo on the top of this page. I’ll attempt to show you the views in both measurements so you can see the benefits of each. The smaller picket spacing will also allow more of a sun block to some of the grass when the sun is rising and setting. That will be something positive in the harsh summer months here in Virginia.

With the horizontal 2×4’s up, I wanted the pickets off the ground. I purposely did not mow the grass, and it is a little higher than normal. This gives me a gauge on how high I want the picket off the ground. I simply lifted the picket off the ground when it was leaning against the horizontal 2×4 and when I was happy with the gap at the bottom, I took a tape measure. From the highest 2×4, at the top I marked this test picket. It was almost 16 inches. I decided to use this measurement. I measured from the top of the picket to the top of the highest 2×4 and then, took several other pickets and measured 16 inches top the top of the picket down 16 inches, and drew a line. This aids in hanging the inital pickets if your doing this solo.

I measured 3 inches in from the end of the horizontal 2×4 and drew a line. I did this on both ends. In a 96 inch run, this gives me 90 inches of picket area. It gives me an idea how many pickets I will need between each set of posts. The gothic pickets are 3.5 inches wide. The space between pickets in another 3.5 inches wide. This means from the center of each picket will be spaced 7 inches apart. With 90 inches to work with, I divided this by 7 and I came out with 12.85 pickets within this 90 inch area. That is extremely close to 13 pickets bewteen posts and I am OK with that. It will allow for a bit of error here and there.

Now that I have a line scored on the back of the picket I simply find the 3 inch mark and place the right side edge of a picket on that 3 inch mark. I raise the picket up until I see the 16 inch measurement line in the back of the picket and have it equal to the top of the highest horizontal 2×4. Holding this in place with one hand, I take a wood screw and twist in enough into the board to make it stay. Then, with a power drill, I secure the picket to the horizontal 2×4.

Picket with the 16 in mark level to top horizontal 2x4
Picket with the 16 in mark level to top horizontal 2×4

Now, I find a small level and make sure this inital picket is level as it can be. I then drive a second screw into the picket adjacent to the first screw. Per picket, I will have two screws in the top horizontal 2×4 and two screws in the bottom horizontal 2×4. This pattern will help the pickets stay in place, resist bowing and provide more stability to the fence line.

I secure two more pickets in the same way.

I go to the garage and I find a piece of scrap picket. I want to create a “spacer”. I use my saw to cut a piece of picket 3.5 inches wide. This will be used as a spacer tool in between each picket so the spacing is just right. It also eliminates the need to use a measuring tape to do this step on each picket. The spacer is a time saver, and can be held up with one hand.

A handy dandy picket spacer to make sure all gap measurements are the same.
A handy dandy picket spacer to make sure all gap measurements are the same.

I learned these tricks when I was doing the pickets for the first time. Another trick is bungie cord the level on top of the pickets. This eliminates the need to measure each picket to the same height. With the level on top of the pickets, it offers a stop point to push up the picket to the right height. With the spacer in place, I have the correct with and height and this can be accomplished with one hand. Once the picket is in the right place, I drive a screw into the picket securing the picket to the horizontal 2×4. I then level the picket and drive in a second screw at the same height. Depending on the length of the level, I can get 5 to 7 pickets done before I have to move the level and bungie cord. I use the bungie because the level WILL fall off the top of the pickets. With the level secured, the process of hanging pickets is a breeze.

Using a level with a bungie cord frees up one hand. Level stays put better.
Using a level with a bungie cord frees up one hand. Level stays put better.

In a 8 foot run, I only do two screws to the highest horizontal 2×4. Later on I will find the center of the bottom horizonal 2×4 and draw a line across all the pickets. This will allow for a uniform, more professional look. I know these pickets I have already painted, but I will be adding at least 1 more coat of paint/stain to the pickets when a section is finally done. I do this to make sure the pickets are totally covered, just in case some areas were missed or have chipped in the assembly process.

I looked at these taller pickets and I wonder, since I have a 16 inches from the top of the picket to the top of the highest horizontal 2×4, will I need to add a 2×4 that will be attached to only pickets with no post support? This WOULD keep pickets from curling. I will have to research this a little more and make a decision and go with it.

Here is the look at the street side of the house with 75 to 80% of it complete.  It is looking sexy !  The extra grass WILL be removed from the sidewalk once it gets a little cooler. Its a bit hot this week (80+F) so I want to do the harder labor when its cooler, or just before dusk. I’ll update the photos when everything is complete.

Street side is nearly complete. the walk in gate is in need of replacement, and the last 10 feet of fence at the end of the run needs to be replaced.  One 120 foot run is left to do. That’s on the left side of the house. Most of that is in shade, so it will be a more comfortable job in the morning and afternoon.

The street side picket fence is 90% complete. A section of picket fence near the end of the 120 foot run needs replacing, and the walk in gate as well.
The street side picket fence is 90% complete. A section of picket fence near the end of the 120 foot run needs replacing, and the walk in gate as well.

 

The street side picket fence is 90% complete. A section of picket fence near the end of the 120 foot run needs replacing, and the walk in gate as well. Sidewalk view
The street side picket fence is 90% complete. A section of picket fence near the end of the 120 foot run needs replacing, and the walk in gate as well. Sidewalk view
Picket fence in front of the house has been completed for a few weeks. Soon two-thirds of the project will be complete !
Picket fence in front of the house has been completed for a few weeks. Soon two-thirds of the project will be complete !

A new gate was built basically the same way. The old gate was close to 11.5 feet wide. The new gate is about 16 feet wide. My son and I added hardware to the gate that I hung, and it is now complete. Here are 2 photos. One street side and one within the property.

 

16 foot wide picket gate complete with guy wires and locking posts.
16 foot wide picket gate complete with guy wires and locking posts.
16 foot wide picket gate complete with guy wires and locking posts. Property side.
16 foot wide picket gate complete with guy wires and locking posts. Property side.