-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

designing the orchard fence

The poor fruit trees need better protection. No sooner do they send shoots up than they get nibbled off by a passing sheep or kangaroo. The wire fencing doesn't seem to have worked as well for them as the gum trees, so they're surviving - but barely.

Dad reckons, and Dave agrees, that the only thing to do is put in a proper fence.

But I've been hesitant to do so, because I was worried it would spoil the feeling of open-ness and views through to the dam.

There's no alternative however, so after much deliberation we've come up with an idea.

The 'functional' goal is to keep the sheep and roos out, but make it possible still for smaller animals, like rabbits, to get inside and eat the grass to save us mowing. The 'design' goal is to make it look nice, perhaps even sculptural, not like a traditional fence and with minimal impact on the views.

Depending on price, we're hoping to use the kind of wire that has square holes, about 15cm x 15cm. It's strong enough to repel sheep, we can use tent pegs to fasten to the ground between pillars, and viewed from a distance you'd hopefully not notice it.

The question however, is what kind of posts to use to hold the wire up.

My first idea was to make it sort of mediterranean in feel... to make the fence posts like round pillars, and put planters for cacti and succulents on top. The concept was that we could sprinkle them through the orchard and that they'd appear to have a reason for being there - almost as if they were sculptures - beyond just holding up a fence.

Idea for fence

But, when I tried to envisage this while there, I realised it wouldn't work... it didn't have the right feel. So Mum and I came up with an alternative.

We'll make it one big fenced area around the orchard - but in a curved shape that feels natural to walk around and to fit in with the shape of the driveway. I had a go at marking it out using bricks, but suspect it'll evolve as I wasn't sure how much space needed to be between each post.
We'll use normal fence posts (ideally round, unless rectangular is a lot cheaper) with the idea being that ultimately we can paint them - perhaps in the dark blue of the house, with a gold 'finial' like detail at the top. Whatever paint style we choose, it can be a recurring motif throughout other garden features and help to pull it all together. To give you an idea of how the painted fence posts might feel, here's an example from a garden we visited in Olinda (ours of course would be much taller and with wire between):


To make it even more interesting and less 'fence-like', we could perhaps have every 5th or so post being not a post but a 'dead tree'. If we buy some uncut big branches from the local sawmill, ideally in different shapes with a few other branches coming off at the top, then they could be set into position almost as if they were the trunks of real skeleton trees. It'd give it a more natural feel and blend in with the gums of the driveway, and I could put pots and hanging planters in the branches perhaps. Hmmm... here's a sketch of the idea:

Idea for orchard wall

Of course, there are a few trees that are just too far out to be included in the main fenced bit. I'm envisioning that each of the mulberry and almond trees will have their own enclosures. For simplicity they could be rectangular, but the way they're lined up needs consideration. Mum and I toyed with a couple of ideas (aligning them with the walled garden; making them point to the dam) but in reality I think the best alignment will only become obvious a the point of building, as it'll need to fit in with the house, the drive, the slope of the land etc, so am not going to fuss too much about it for now.

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