Fence & Gate!

I immediately did not love the fence between the garage and the house – and not just because it was falling down and the posts rotting away into oblivion, but because it seemed unnecessary. After we moved in, though, I began appreciating the bit of privacy it provided (and potentially could provide) for our back courtyard space. But man was it ugly.

Despite my eventual appreciation, it was still falling down, rotting, and missing a hugely important piece for a “privacy fence”: a gate. So, fixing and completing the fence I originally hated jumped pretty high on the priority list.*

We started in November: Elliot and I replaced the eastern-portion post and straightened out the buckling fence. There were many steps involved:

  • removing old rotten post(s)**
  • digging down two feet (harder than it sounds)
  • clearing out the massive layers of dirt that were shoving the fence-base outward (and bending the whole thing – also harder than it sounds, dirt is strong)
  • bending the fence back into a straight line (through sheer force of Aly – and some cement blocks)
  • making sure the new post was straight (giant level came in handy!)
  • refilling the hole with rocks, dirt, and constant stamping (much harder than you realize while you are doing it — or remember months later when you think, ‘hey! let’s install another fence post today!’)
  • screwing the fence into the not-rotting post (yay!)

We also started digging the western-portion’s post hole, but immediatly hit the concrete some prior fence builders had used to hold the rotten, useless post we’d previously removed – so we gave up.***

In the meantime, my gnat-like attention moved on to the gate. The gap between the east and west portions of the fence was bizzare – too wide for a standard one-door gate, too short for a double. I kept searching (2 hour train commutes are good for that), and happened to stumble on to a gate-hack: buy a fence panel and turn it into a gate**** (much, much less expensive).****

Eventually I got around to ordering an 8′ fence panel and Elliot picked it up in Poughkeepsie. With the help of our visiting expert (Dad!), we made a ~6′ gate for our quirky little fence.

  • I measured once***** and cut it down to size
  • Added a cross-bar for support^*
  • And (eventually Elliot) used some cool black-iron hardware to attach it to the east-side portion of the fence (that’s the side that we replaced the rotten fence post with a nice new not rotten one)
Fency!

The gate itself isn’t actually done yet. But it’s up and privacy-allowing, so I’m taking it as a win. But I’m also going to fix it in the spring.

Fast-forward another month. Mid-January 2020 came with a glorious weekend filled 60+ degree days. Blog-translation? I got antsy to get something done and Sergiu (finally) agreed to help me install the fence post for the west-portion of the fence.

What I didn’t tell him, until after he agreed, was that there was a giant cement thing that was definitely going to make digging a bit more difficult. This is where I would usually laugh a bit maniacally, but of course the giant cement post-holder thing was no match for Sergiu.

So, the process for the west-portion was about the same as the process for the east-portion – though made more difficult by buried concrete and just massively more dirt forcing the bend in the fence itself. But, once again we:

  • dug down two feet (Sergiu. Sergiu dug down 2 feet, and oddly really wide, too)
  • cleared out the massive layers of dirt that were shoving the fence outward (I did this, and it was so much worse than I remembered)
  • bent the fence back into a straight line (Aly-strength wasn’t enough for this much-worse side of the fence, so Sergiu lifted while I straightened)
  • made sure the new post was straight (while level-straight, I did screw it up and it was a little twisted. woops.)
  • refilled the hole with rocks, dirt, and constant stamping (Sergiu wanted to use the sledge hammer instead of the stamp-post (not a real name) – the stamp-post being the actual tool designed for this task. Stamper worked great.)
Hole, rocks, slightly broken shoes

And that was that. Sergiu screwed the fence to the post, and everything is now awesome.

Except the gate. Still need to finish/fix that damn gate. 🙂

Next step: staining.

*Not, you know, heat, water, or working septic-level of priority, but still pretty high up.
**We removed the east and the west rotten posts, thinking – foolishly- that we would be able to complete both in one day…
*** Sergiu insisted that we, too, would need to use concrete, but the ol’ Miller stubbornness won out and we just dug a 2 foot hole instead. Elliot hates concrete-bound fence posts, largely for the reason our shovel literally hit while trying to dig: he hates having to deal with giant concrete block and rotten wooden post-bits when trying to replace a rotten post.
**** This blog was helpful, too
*****My bad. Def didn’t get it right. But at least I used a hand saw, unlike those lazy fools on the how-to posts! 😉
^*Wrongly. Installed it wrongly. But I’ll fix it later.

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