How to build a cedar post and hog panel fence…
I made a simple cedar post and hog panel fence so that our hens, A.K.A the rakes with wings, have their own yard to free-range when they are unsupervised (otherwise mass destruction occurs)! I think this would work well to fence in a veggie garden as well, and I just may do that too. Lets get to it…
Step 1: Locate cedar posts for the posts, and staves for the gate. In Texas, this is not hard to do. Texas cedars (which are not true cedars at all) are water guzzlers that ranchers want off their land. Help a friend clear land and get materials for free – for me, I do not like chain saws and my husband was away on business, so I located some on craigslist for $4 each post (approx 3-4″ diameter) and $2 a stave – all 8 feet long.
Step 2: Map it all out and measure carefully. I wanted my posts 6 ft apart, except where my gate will be which I did just under 4 feet so I could pass a wheel barrel through. I ensured I had a straight line with a piece of rope, and then I used orange spray paint to mark the ground where the center of each hole would be. Then after I dug all the holes I used my rope again to make sure they were all straight and on center.
.Step 3: Start digging! I used my shovel to score the dirt all around that center orange mark and then I dug down as far as I could with the shovel. Then, especially if you are in Texas and have a lot of rocks in your soil, you need to do the rest with a solid steel digging bar. It is the only way to get that hole deep enough – which by the way is 24 inches if you can. BUT FOR SURE the two gate posts need to be 24 inches deep, or even a few extra inches deep for good luck, as the gate will be subject to a lot of movement. The holes need to look like a soda can shape when you are done, not a bullet shape at the bottom. So nice and flat and the same width all the way down – no tapered holes that thin and round near the bottom.
Then measure to ensure those holes are deep enough. You are not doing all this work for nothing. Do it right the first time. Trust me, you do not want to re-do this again if your fence falls over because you did not dig deep enough. Also, I have no idea why I am smiling for this picture – I want to smack the smile off my face – this stage is NOT FUN.
Then deal with this……and this while you work! Okay okay back to it…but they are so cute! Yet a tad annoying at times ;) GrrrrrrrrrrrrrStep 4: Set your post (not your kids) in the hole and then with help use a long level and level the post. Next, brace them with 2×4 ‘s so the posts stay upright and level. When you think you are done this step, double check and make sure every last post is level again!
Step 5: Once every last post has been braced and levelled, then and only then, start to mix your cement. I used the Quikrete ready-to-use cement that you just add water to. I mixed one bag at a time in the wheel barrel. Each hole will take approximately one and a half bags of the 80lbs bags or approximately 2 of the 60 lbs bags. Do yourself a favor and buy the 60lbs bags – the 80lbs bags are too hard to handle even though they are more economical. If I had it to do over, I would get the 60 pounders. The cement sets in approx 25-45 minutes so for this step have some help. As you pour the hole and work the cement in the other person needs to check the level….again and again and again while you begin mixing the next bag. This is why it is imperative everything was ready to go with the posts and the work area was de-cluttered before you began mixing. And voila! You have yourself a fence post! We had a little family fun before the cement set up with the kids. Use your imagination – we used letter/number stamps, glass, and hands.Step 6: Buy hog panels at your feed store of choice. They come in 16ft and 20ft lengths (at the places I went) so take this into account when you map out your fence post intervals – the less seams the better. Also, if you don’t have to cut the panels at all because of strategic post placement, all the better! Don’t forget to let your cement cure for a couple days before moving on to securing anything to them.Step 7: Buy these gigantic barbed staples to secure your panels to your posts. WEAR GLOVES. TRUST ME. Ouch!
Step 8: Cut your hog panels to length if you have to. Lucky for me, the managers at the feed store who delivered the panels for me cut them to length on site. THEY ROCK! I highly recommend Alex and his team at Jupe Mills Bandera Rd. location in Helotes, TX for their great selection and incredible customer service.
Step 9: Start securing your panels. This is the easy part. Once you have your holes dug and your cement work done you are laughin’.I wanted to do the fence close to the coop so that we just have to reach over to retrieve eggs without entering the yard at all.
And here is the other angle. We are tearing out that shed in short order to make more room for the girls as well as several compost bins. Also…imagine orange lantana cascading all along the bottom of the fence with a few giant Lindheimer’s muhly tuffts thrown in for good measure – YUMMY!
This project was not hard – but very labor intensive. I do not plan on digging any 2ft holes or mixing cement ANY TIME soon. To re-cap what I learned and would do differently the next time:
-Do yourself a favor and dig one day, and set the posts the next.
-Get the 60lbs bags of cement instead of the 80lbs bags and save your back!
-We cut our 2×4 lengths for the braces too short. They should have been longer and affixed higher up on the post for more stability. Play with one and get it right before cutting all your 2×4’s up.
-Plan your post intervals around the lengths the hog panels come in. Go to your feed store and find this out before solidifying your plan and starting the project.
cedar posts and staves
solid steel digging bar if you don’t have one already
cement mix of your choice
2×4’s and wood screws to make supports
1 1/2″ double-barbed staples
Coming soon: How to build a cedar stave gate…