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PVC as fence/gate frames?

 
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Looking for input from anyone.

I have some recently built 2x10 raised bed garden frames.  The frames themselves work just fine.  The problem I had was that the deer and bunnies ate a good deal of my produce, especially my sweet potatoes.

I did build a series of removable fence sections made of 2x4’s that could be lifted out of place to access the garden bed at any point.  However, they are heavy and somewhat fragile, even though each joint is liquid nailed and lag screwed in place.  The top rails are starting to pull out from lifting in and out.  Also, the frames sometimes stick and this worsens the frame fragility.

I need to add fencing to other beds and I have thought about using PVC pipes as the frames and making them swing out like a gate and not lift out.  Of course I would attach a wire mesh fence fabric to keep out the critters.

So what are your thoughts?  Would PVC make a lightweight yet strong frame material for a gate (each gate would be about 4’ long by 3-4’ high)?  This may be my winter project so thoughts are welcome.

Thanks in advance,

Eric
 
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Build one and see how it works.
 
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I use it extensively in fencing, including as gates.
Rather than gluing the joints,  I secure them with self tapping screws.
The netting is held to the framework with zipties.
1/2" EMT fits inside 3/4" pvc, so you drive a length of the EMT into the ground and slip the pvc over it.
 
Eric Hanson
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John,

Just using your imagination, what do you think is a reasonable diameter PVC pipe to use?  2”?  3”?  I would think 4” would be expensive, excessive and might just be too heavy—exactly what I am trying to avoid.  As it is, a 4’x8’ fence section made from 2x4 is pretty heavy and sticks—meaning it pulls apart when I try to lift it.

Also,

I was surprised by how expensive my 2x4 fence cost by the time all the hardware was included and the time needed to assemble was surprisingly high.  I am really hoping for something that I can just stick together inexpensively and still be effective.

Normally I would just surround the garden beds with fencing, leave a gate and be done.  However, my raised garden beds are all in line and parallel the driveway, leaving me no room to put in a fence and still have work space around the bed.  My fence/gates need to set right on the edges of the raised beds but still open so I can access the beds themselves.  Oddly, this was not s problem until I started growing in wood chips, after which the plants have been extra yummy to deer and bunnies—both a success and drawback of growing in wood chips.

Thanks for listening,

Eric
 
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We build a lot of stuff out of PVC pipe. It's not as environmentally sound as I would like, but we have constant "wet" in the winter that's the perfect temperature to decompose wood and rust metal! People will complain that PVC pipe will solar degrade, but we've got some that's had intermittent sun for 15 to 20 years and it's still functional. People who use it covered with greenhouse plastic recommend painting it to protect it from UV.

Our big chicken shelters have doors - you can buy what's called a "slip T" that is intended to swing on it's support and they're out of 1 1/2" pipe and work great.
Our "mini-hoops" have slip T pop-doors and they're out of 1/2" pipe - definitely thinner walls and more flexibility, so I'm not sure you'd want to go as large as you're implying.
I've been meaning to build a couple of gates because we *really* need to get some fencing up, and I was thinking of either 1" or 1 1/2" pipe and sliding it over rebar hammered into the ground. The suggestion of sliding it over EMT is similar, but I expect in our soil it would rust too quickly.
At one point we glued everything, but now we use a mixture so that if something breaks, we can either repair it, or salvage parts.

I agree with your observation about the cost of hardware. We qualify as a "farm" so we can get our hardware from an industrial outfit which helps. Again, due to our climate, we've moved steadily to stainless hardware which you really want to find in bulk or the price is just too much. We've also given up on chicken wire in favor of hardware cloth as too many things, including bunnies and rats can chew through chicken wire.

As William mentioned, zip ties are an option, but they need to be a decent weight and UV stable or they don't last and again "plastic".

In the States there are things called "Cattle Panels" that people seem to find cost-effective. Some people put vertical supports and have hooks that they just hang the sections from. The problem is that you probably need them to go higher to keep deer out, and need something with finer mesh at the bottom to keep bunnies out. On my Island, any that I've seen have been so ridiculously expensive, that we haven't tried them.
 
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Question: What is EMT?

Following closely, as much as I hate the plastic I too live where it is wet, wood rots, is pricey, and heavy.

Does anyone have pics or sources of the greenhouse fasteners or the "slip on" holders or the hinge thing mentioned? I have been toying with a simillar plan to keep critters out (the tiny obnoxious ones) by using PVC for screens around the property. We rescue sick, injured or orphaned critters, and keeping flies off wounds is a constant battle, and can be life threatening.

My thought was the hardware cloth on one side, bug mesh on the other held onto one inch PVC with clips of some sort.

I use zip ties extensively to hold the chain link panels together to create pens, the black ones are generally UV stable for at least a decade - I even have the regular ones that are just starting to fail at 15 yrs (we do reside on the Wet Coast of Canada so do not have super hot/suny weather). Unfortunately, zip ties will not work with bug screen, although I have used wire laced through the hardware cloth, in a continuous strand, every inch or so, around thin metal frames with great success. It is just tedious...

Looking forward to more input on this thread.
 
Eric Hanson
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William,

I don’t suppose you have a picture do you?  What you are describing is intriguing.

Jay,

When I started my fence project I thought that the main price was going to be in 2x4’s and fencing fabric.  The hardware really added up fast.

Eric
 
William Bronson
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I didn't have any photos,  so I went and took some.
IMG_20201222_193423.jpg
A basic panel.
A basic panel, covered in snow fence.
IMG_20201222_193127.jpg
A gate, it has a piece of old baby gate strapped to it for the "netting"
A gate, it has a piece of old baby gate strapped to it for the "netting"
IMG_20201222_193136.jpg
Close up of the gate hing
Close up of the gate hing
IMG_20201222_193234.jpg
 This gate is almost 4 foot across and made of 1 1/2" pvc
This gate is almost 4 foot across and made of 1 1/2" pvc
IMG_20201222_193253.jpg
Close up of the hing. I drilled two 3/8" holes in a piece of 2" pvc, and drove deck screws through the them to affix it to the post. The 1 1/2" slips inside with room to spare.
Close up of the hing. I drilled two 3/8" holes in a piece of 2" pvc, and drove deck screws through the them to affix it to the post. The 1 1/2" slips inside with room to spare.
 
Eric Hanson
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Thanks William!

That is exactly the type of idea I was thinking about.

So a mere 3/4” is good enough?  That’s great.

Eric
 
Jay Angler
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:

Question: What is EMT?  

Electrical Metallic Tubing - electrical conduit - some is now grey coloured PVC. It's used in the building trade to protect electrical wires from weather, abrasion, or critters chewing on it.

As to things like slip T's an expensive place to get them is: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/garden/planting/greenhouse/67332-pvc-connectors
But it has pictures and it has some of the weird ones that aren't used for plumbing. They have the special clip things that are used for holding plastic to the pipe for mini-greenhouses, but I've never tried using them. I'd be afraid they wouldn't cope with the wind. To attach hardware cloth to pipe, I use a SS fender washer with a #8 screw (also SS = Stainless steel) and I *always* make a pilot hole even if the screw is self tapping, because it's really a lot easier if you do. We have two battery drills (for women, particularly ones with small hands like I have, battery drills are better ergonomically for my hand as the weight of the head of the drill is balanced by the weight of the battery) one set up with the pilot drill bit and one set up with a Robertson drive bit (usually #2 if you're using #8 screws) and I just keep swapping back and forth as we attach things.  That might be too much information, but I've been doing this sort of thing for a while, and I've figured out what works for me.

I will try to take some close up pictures tomorrow of some of the "frame + door combos" we've built over time, but it's snowy and dark out there at the moment!
 
Jay Angler
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Eric Hanson wrote:Thanks William!

That is exactly the type of idea I was thinking about.

So a mere 3/4” is good enough?  That’s great.

I'd agree that for that sort of size and shape, 3/4 inch is plenty, but it looks as if William's using plastic snow fencing sort of stuff. The first lot of "modular fencing" we built was done with plastic fencing. We recently bought some similar looking stuff which is supposed to be used as a layer for stabilizing roads which is supposed to be much stronger but even then, I wouldn't trust it near the ground as I suspect critters would chew through it. If you want to only build this once more, I'd at least consider the lower areas being something like hardware cloth. Yes, it will cost more, but I wasted a *huge* amount of time last spring trying to resurrect that modular fencing as I needed it desperately. Between solar degradation, animal holes, or unknown trauma, I'd have been much further ahead to change the system, but wasn't given that option. We've also used this fine, black mesh that's sold as "deer fencing" and it's not coped with critters near the bottom and hasn't stood the test of time in the ways we've used it. I'm in a similar situation with long lengths needing protection, rather than a simple large area that can be protected all together and farmed inside of. I've got bits of fencing all over trying to use my limited sun to grow things that deer would like to harvest for me.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Jay: thank you so much for your explicit description - I am one who "thinks" in pictures and was able to easily "see" what you were describing.  

Been online to Amazon and there is a host of PVC "film clips", and nope at around a buck a clip they are not cheap...could one use a grinder or cutter and simply use the same pipe and cut a third to a quarter out of the center and make ones own clips, I wonder.

I think it's time for a hardware store visit and some experimentation! Thanks Jay!
 
William Bronson
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Question: What is EMT?


My thought was the hardware cloth on one side, bug mesh on the other held onto one inch PVC with clips of some sort.



EMT is a a thin walled metal pipe( officially it's "conduit") meant to protect electrical wire.
It is generally galvanized steel, fairly cheap in the smaller diameters and often found discarded in short lengths.
There are special tools designed to bend it precisely,  which is another plus.

You can sometimes make clips for pvc pipe by cutting about 150° out of the side of a piece of pipe that is the same size,  or one size larger.
Rebar wire is cheaper than zip ties and it last a long time,  despite rusting readily.
Stainless steel wire is available at reasonable prices at Harbor Freight, maybe else where.
The problem with wire is the ends,  which can be a real hazard.
They do sell pack of rebar wire already cut into lengths, with loops at the ends,  but this won't work for insect mesh.
The self tapping roofing screws that come with washers are very good for affixing metal mesh to wood,  metal or plastic.

 
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I have raised beds. I defend them from wild rabbits, thieving squirrels and rats...

I discovered pvc pipe when my neighbor put a rack her (deceased) husband had made, on the curb. She said he had made it to help her 4 o'clocks stand up. He had used pvc that is made to stand up to the sun. He must have gotten it from his work, decades ago. I didn't find any "sun proof", but the big orange box store provides many options. Mary said it made her happy that the rack would have a new life.

I matched to the 3/4 OD from the rack and bought a little more pipe, some tees, elbows and connectors. I didn't use pipe glue because I wanted to be able to change the configuration til I got a working set up. I also bought garden wire and lattice fencing. Later I added plastic and recycled tent screening. This year I discovered greenhouse clamps.

I made 4 foot tall 8 foot long frames, because that was the length and width of the lattice. I used zip ties to secure the wire on the inside and the lattice on the outside. I wanted the lattice on the outside because I thought it made the fencing look better. However, the combination of wire and lattice really helped keep the rats out. I was surprised.

I used pipes from a former mini greenhouse to make stakes in the ground over which I can slide the pvc uprights to make the fence stand. These are about 2-3 feet, pounded about 1/3 of the way in. I have clay soil. The stakes are cemented in.

I added cross connectors so I could create a tent like set up over the bed for plastic or row cover. This was not as successful, but it was me over engineering the whole thing. The plan was to be able to pop the top off and lift the fencing out of the way, but 8 feet was too akward. And I could not find a connector with the angle I wanted. Think roof. As I said over engineering...

I recommend 4x4 sections and put the cross connectors on the corners. Of course, if you meet the height requirment to swing 8 foot long fence panels around, go for it.😁

I find the pipe gets wobbly in places after opening /closing/ lifting because I  refused to use glue. I have been working on a reconfiguration that I may glue...(insert waffle dance here). It's stronger and stabler in shorter sections.

This fall DH and I built a potting shedish thing out of former hoop house panels and used pvc pipes to make doors. I have made pvc gates using wire and zip ties and the former mini greenhouse poles.

So give it a shot. Make short sections, wait until you are happy before gluing. Expect to reconfigure.  
 
William Bronson
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I agree with Jay,  hardware cloth for at least the first couple of feet off the ground.
I built a crop enclosure for my mom,  used 1/2" hex  on the bottom 2 feet,  ran out,  used deer fencing on the rest.
The 1/2" hex is cheaper than hardware cloth,  but hardware cloth is just better.
It doesn't stretch,  and it's very well  galvinized.
Much easier to use.
Deer netting is basically disposable, I had bought it originally to use in a concrete roofing project.
It's thin enough to rip with my hands and it's messy to use.
I covered the top of the enclosure with it as well,  and managed to leave a hole where a birdy slipped in.
My mom  had to go let it out,  and my mommy only likes animals at a distance!
So that's gonna be upgraded to hardware cloth...

Here's is the enclosure.
It is made of 2x2s, 1x2s and  cedar fence boards.
I ripped the cedar boards and joined them at an angle to form the uprights.
Small cross sectional wood is an option for your fence,  but it's not as light or easy to use as pvc.
It does allow you to use staples to affix the netting.

IMG_20200525_192030.jpg
Cant find a photo of it totally finished...
Cant find a photo of it totally finished...
IMG_20200719_132249.jpg
 Consolation prize? The bed and enclosure I built for my sister from 1x2 furring strips. It now has deer netting, drapped over it and hooked over screwws alomg the bottom. Good enough for deer, not for tiny pests.
Consolation prize? The bed and enclosure I built for my sister from 1x2 furring strips. It now has deer netting, drapped over it and hooked over screwws alomg the bottom. Good enough for deer, not for tiny pests.
 
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The grey pvc tubing sold as electrical conduit is UV resistant, supposedly.


I am also on the wet coast, and have some EMT that has been out in the weather for about 6 years, so still looks new.. time will tell.


My favorite way to do quick, large gates, which might work for removable fence sections, is with nested pipes.

Pipe #1 is a ~10ft length of decently stout steel pipe, something like chain link top-rail at a minimum. Then find  pipe #2; a size of pipe that will slide around this with a bit of slop.

Then cut around 20" of pipe #2, and drive it into the ground. Use a bit of wood on top, to minimize mushrooming while driving it; cut the top bit off if it deforms past usability.

Attach flexible plastic deer fence to the top 8ft of pipe #1. Drop bottom end into the buried pipe #2. Repeat as necessary.
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