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A fence that doesn't penetrate the ground?

 
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Hey, y'all, if anyone can help me it will be one of you. I have a piece of land that (according to the well/septic designer) is all rocks and gravel. The rocks are so thick and big that I haven't been able to drive so much as a t post into it. I need to build fences, was thinking a pallet fence in a zig zag style with 2x4s screwed in on the inside corners holding the pallets together, maybe 2 per junction. Does that sound feasible? I would think that would keep dogs out or in but could I push it further and add upright 2x4 posts in the corners and wire between that to keep out deer and elk? Doesn't sound lovely but at this point I just need to get a start. Am starting an osage orange hedge along the front but it has to survive the wildlife until it grows up and I'd really like to have some garden and get some fruit trees started. Thoughts, anyone? Thanks - Cici
 
pioneer
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I can't recall what thread I had seen it in, where a fellow with rocky ground had constructed  a gabion style rock basket   in kind of a right triangle  fashion   to hold his posts upright. Looked as if it worked well.
 
Carmen Rose
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ben heidorn wrote:I can't recall what thread I had seen it in, where a fellow with rocky ground had constructed  a gabion style rock basket   in kind of a right triangle  fashion   to hold his posts upright. Looked as if it worked well.


The gabion was triangular or they were offset, forming triangels? That's a good idea, what with all the rocks around there . . . Thanks!
 
pollinator
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there’s pics somewhere on here of some of the fences using rockjacks at wheaton labs. like gabions, but just stacked rock, no cage.
 
pollinator
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Gabion baskets are common here, cattle panel or chunk of woven wire tied in a similar circle and filled with rocks the plow finds in the field.  Wire stretched tight between them and maybe a spacer standing in between-basically a cheap post resting on the ground with the wires tied off.
 
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Deer, elk and dogs? Electric fence, for now, so you can plant and succeed. You can build rock walls later.
 
greg mosser
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here’s the thread on rock jacks. there’s a few more pictures of them in the junk pole fence thread, too.
rock jacks
 
pollinator
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I have heard that some of those caged rock fences need to be called "trellises" and not "fences" depending on if city codes don't allow fences without a concrete foundation.
 
gardener
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Deer, elk and dogs? Electric fence, for now, so you can plant and succeed. You can build rock walls later.

We struggle to get electric fence posts into our ground, so I'd try a few before making a commitment to all the equipment needed. Granted it's particularly an issue with the electric chicken mesh as the fence posts are integral to the netting so I have less choice as to exactly where to put the posts in. I haven't seen ones tall enough to discourage deer either. The time I tried to use some to keep deer out, it was an utter failure.
Carmen Rose wrote:

The rocks are so thick and big that I haven't been able to drive so much as a t post into it. I need to build fences, was thinking a pallet fence in a zig zag style with 2x4s screwed in on the inside corners holding the pallets together, maybe 2 per junction. Does that sound feasible?

How flat is the area you want to fence. If the pallets aren't "square with the universe" you'll struggle to attach them together. The places I've used them, I would trench enough that the skid's top was level, or occasionally, use a shim to raise one side.
If you look at what Brian Michael's done here: https://permies.com/t/147662/Show-composting-setups-pretty#1153521
and the picture at the end of my post here: https://permies.com/t/147662/Show-composting-setups-pretty#1160600
you can see two ways of using pallets, but both are fairly level. The advantage of the "cube" way I've done mine is that deer aren't likely to jump both "high" and "wide" and if the short side is to the outside, the tall side blocks the view of where the deer will need to land, which will definitely discourage them. There's no reason you need to fill these with compost if rocks are easier, but if your land is that rocky, you may want all the compost you can get, so this can be a form of stacking functions. I actually figured that in a couple of the ones to the left in the picture, I'll add some fencing and plant pumpkins straight in the cubes. If you've got tree companies willing to drop of wood chips, filling the cubes with wood chips and inoculating them with a decomposer mushroom (Winecaps are frequently mentioned) would be another approach. More importantly, you don't have to build the cubes attached to each other, but can use them as sturdy cubes and attach other fencing between them. I'll attach a picture of my new strawberry raised beds that are half pallets with home-made brackets at the corners. Once filled with punky wood, compost and dirt even the half skids aren't going anywhere, but I had to level their footprint within reason.
2020-sturdy-strawberry-bed.JPG
I can sit or stand on this bed - it is solid!
I can sit or stand on this bed - it is solid!
2020-2nd-raised-bed-corner-bracket.JPG
This bracket was a scrap of sheet metal, but for a recent larger bed, I made brackets out of aluminium "L" material.
This bracket was a scrap of sheet metal, but for a recent larger bed, I made brackets out of aluminium "L" material.
 
steward
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Another fix for the pallet zig zag fence on uneven terrain is to have posts at each intersection.  They don't need to go into the ground, just set on the ground and raise up the low end of the pallet to be level.  Dogs might dig under the gaps if they're too big but that's what more rocks are for...
 
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A super old article by Paul (who no longer cares much for concrete): Fence Post Doughnuts



This is kind of a precursor to to the more sustainable rock jacks.

My neighbor also talked about how her dad used to fill old tires with concrete with the fence post upright in the concrete. They used them as semi-mobile fence posts (you could tilt them roll them around to new places).
 
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In my rambling days, I spent a couple years working in the remote outback or northern New South Wales, Australia.  While there i did a fair bit of cattle fencing.  From what I saw, wild pigs can get through just about anything by dint of having a ridiculously tough snout backed by a cement mixer type build, so if you're trying to keep pigs at bay, good luck.  We fenced in some extremely rocky country.  We'd occasionally screw two old truck tires together side by side, stand a post up in the middle and pour concrete around it.  These make some pretty solid stay posts and as others mentioned leaves them moveable if extremely heavy.  I believe we even used a large 50-gallon drum for the same purpose on a long stretch on time lol, that one became basically a permanent fixture.  Run mesh fence between your "tire posts" but don't spread them too far apart.  You could then use long ground staples to tack the bottom strand to the ground every few yards... I'd assume there's enough dirt between your rocks to allow for that at least!  4' high mesh, plus maybe a single strand of barb or electric wire strung 6" above the mesh should do it.  Keep us "posted" on how things turn out!
 
Jay Angler
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Nicole Alderman wrote:A super old article by Paul (who no longer cares much for concrete):
This is kind of a precursor to to the more sustainable rock jacks.

My neighbor also talked about how her dad used to fill old tires with concrete with the fence post upright in the concrete. They used them as semi-mobile fence posts (you could tilt them roll them around to new places).

I admit I'd hesitate to use concrete if it isn't permanent, not just because of the embodied energy, but because the results are difficult to deal with if you do change your mind, or if the fence becomes unnecessary (like in the case of protecting young trees while they get established.) However the tire idea reminded me of something I did a few years back - I needed a guy wire, and it needed to be in a spot that happened to be moss-covered bedrock. Normally I use lengths of rebar with flagging tape on them (I don't much like flagging tape either, but it's better than a tripping hazard). So I used our rock drill (think hammer drill on hormones) and drilled a hole in the bedrock at the angle I needed, dropped the rebar in, and since the hole was slightly over-sized, pushed some sand in around it. It worked fine for the 2 years I needed the guy rope for, and was easy to remove when done, although it took Hubby's hand strength. This leads to a second idea - if the OP's rocks come in the over-sized-flat-bottomed version she could rent or borrow a rock drill, have a bunch of victims lined up to go, drill a bunch of holes, and she'd have temporary somewhat easy to move fence posts. We have a heavy duty dolly that we move big rocks on at times, but we've also got a tractor...
hole-for-lifting-rocks.JPG
This wasn't for a fence post, but just because the rock drill was handy and we needed the rock to move.
This wasn't for a fence post, but just because the rock drill was handy and we needed the rock to move.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Nicole Alderman wrote:My neighbor also talked about how her dad used to fill old tires with concrete with the fence post upright in the concrete. They used them as semi-mobile fence posts (you could tilt them roll them around to new places).


Good idea! Taking it farther, old tires on rims are easy to come by. If you could mount a post on the rim (welded? bracket?) and cover it with gravel/rock, it would be fairly sturdy.
 
Carmen Rose
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Deer, elk and dogs? Electric fence, for now, so you can plant and succeed. You can build rock walls later.



I don't know why I didn't think of electric - except that it intimidates me. Well, that and the fact that I don't have electricity there yet. But I will soon and that's a great idea. I can learn it and there's a basic small area cleared where I could use it right now. You really think it will work for elk?
 
ben heidorn
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That's what I was thinking of, thanks Greg.

Carmen, as keeping deer out goes, some can clear an 8ft fence with ease.  A 4 ft fence with a single  strand of wire  in front of it a few feet away where the deer would initiate the jump from is quite effective. I tried to find the article  but the one that came up stated two 4ft fences 4ft apart were required,  but that just seems like added expense.

Lots of great ideas in here keep em coming.


I would  imagine if one went with the rock jack idea, you could incorporate the secondary wire in a manner that didn't require more posts , and doesn't interfere with trimming outside the fence.
 
Mike Haasl
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I've had good luck with this design.  Uneven ground would be a problem and I'm not sure what livestock I'd trust in it.  But it keeps deer and chickens out.

Wavy deer fence
 
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Jay Angler wrote:So I used our rock drill (think hammer drill on hormones) and drilled a hole in the bedrock



If possible I would go this route and put in a serious permanent fence and be done with it.
 
pollinator
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Here are my rock jack gate posts, built onto bedrock with salvaged old growth from a burned down old structure for the frame and native boulders. Working well for about a year now.
IMG_3445.jpg
Rock Jack gate posts
Rock Jack gate posts
 
pollinator
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My understanding is that gabions aren't structurally sufficient for fence posts. Around here they are mostly decorative and a place to put all the smallish rocks. I would happily be wrong as we have so much rock.
 
Ben Zumeta
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It’s only been less than a year, but these 3000lb rock jacks have held up to 70mph winds supporting gateposts, and along with a couple H-braces (also partially supported by their own rock jacks as the bedrock is 18-24”down), it holds up a 200ft run of fence on a steep slope. Overall the fence is about 800ft. We rocked in salvaged old growth redwood 6”x6” for corner posts. For t-posts, we have heavy duty 10 footers driven 24-30” into the ground, with the bottom 6” into bedrock. It is soft rock, but still a bear of a job by hand driving into it with a manual post driver. We rented a beast of a pneumatic post hole driver, a jackhammer and auger for the bulk of the hardest spots, getting through about 60 in two days. 15per day was the best we could do by hand with a strong helper.
 
Jay Angler
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Stacy Witscher wrote:My understanding is that gabions aren't structurally sufficient for fence posts. Around here they are mostly decorative and a place to put all the smallish rocks. I would happily be wrong as we have so much rock.

It's not that simple - it's an intersection set of the local conditions (wind, wild animals, domestic animals) and the foot-print you start with. It takes a *lot* of rocks to fill a 4 ft x 4 ft gabion to 3 1/2 ft tall, but that's what would be needed to keep an elk out and I'm not sure it would stop a large bear or moose. A 2 ft by 2 ft foot print is substantially smaller as area is the square root and volume is the cube root. So yes, many gabions I've seen are more decorative than serious, but then, so are many fences! In many ways a fence is a "deterrent", rather than a guarantee. To some degree, they only work if the animals decide they can get food easier elsewhere.
 
Stacy Witscher
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That makes sense, thank you. I'll have to look into more. It would definitely be something that I did over time. But I'm always looking for places to put rock.

When we had fencing installed, they used a mini-mini to dig the post holes that then were cemented in and even then the fence stretcher pulled down some of the fence posts, so imagine that type of fence wouldn't work with gabions. Our entire property is pretty sloped which I expect would further complicate things. I have one area that I'm thinking of just using for a dairy cow and a horse that is pretty flat, maybe it could work there.

Very interesting thread.
 
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Carmen, just wondering, if you can't pound in a T post, is there enough soil for the roots of the hedge and fruit trees to go as deep as they are tall?
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Cristo has a point: if it's all rock/gravel, it's tough country to grow in.

Offhand, I would start to think about a deal with a sand/gravel company: you excavate this section to xx feet, and truck in black dirt to fill the hole, and we'll call it even.
 
Carmen Rose
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I plan to garden in raised beds. I'm getting older anyway so I won't miss having to get down on the ground. As for the trees, a neighbor has an excavator and can dig me a few really big holes which I plan to fill with a combination of rotted wood, any dead animal I find (for the bone), horse manure and the sand that surrounds my rocks.  There are also 2 sets of old perc holes that I can plant in. I am concerned about the nutrition of the soil but recently read that scotch broom (which covers every open space) is a nitrogen fixer. Who knew it had an upside!? I don't want to ask too much of my new neighbors, though, so I won't ask them to dig a whole set of post holes. If the guy is agreeable, I'll pay him to dig a trench where the hedge needs to be and fill it also with manure. I have a source for plenty of that. He's a contractor and has all those nice big toys. Apparently hazel nuts don't mind all those rocks. They're already growing prolifically on the property which was forest until it logged some 10 years ago. But I love hazel nuts and won't mind sharing with wildlife if I have plenty of them. I also have access to quite a lot of laurel trimmings. Anyone have an opinion on that as a hedge? What I like about laurel is that it doesn't drop its leaves during winter.

I can't believe how helpful this has been! I really only posted here out of desperation, not thinking there was really a good answer and here I have more than one! I'm really favoring that wavy fence. I've heard the theory of deer not going over fences that weren't so straight and tidy. I'm getting older and my joints have already needed repairs. Thanks so much, everyone.
 
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