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Portland Fencing Options for Community Gardens

portland fencing for community gardensA community garden, or one that is shared by multiple gardeners in the community, is a great way to beautify a neighborhood and bring residents together for a shared effort. Churches, schools and neighborhoods throughout Portland have developed dozens of co-op gardens, and some of them are visually stunning as well as enriching for the community.

As a grassroots effort, initiating a community garden requires a lot of planning, from securing the land to designing the beds to determining how participating gardeners will be chosen. One of the questions planners often ask is, “What are the best fencing options for a community garden?”

Community garden fencing can be as simple as a do-it-yourself chicken wire barrier to keep out small animals, or it can be a decorative element that complements the garden’s design or blends into the foliage. Following is a look at some of the considerations to keep in mind.

Fencing Questions to Ask

When choosing the right fence materials for a Portland community garden, it’s a good idea to first identify your goals, budget and other important considerations. Each type of fencing has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to know what your priorities are. Ask yourself the following questions:

What purpose will the fencing serve? Garden fences serve a variety of goals. Some are built solely to keep small animals from munching on the plants, while others simply to provide a visual boundary or design accent. Depending on the neighborhood, some community gardens may need fencing to control access and keep out vandals, in which case a taller fence with a locked gate may be necessary.

What is your budget? Community garden projects often have limited budgets, and some groups may decide to solicit donated materials from a Portland fence installation company. Keep in mind that on the spectrum of fencing materials, wire or chain link are among the more affordable options, while vinyl fencing lies at the more expensive end.

Popular Community Garden Fencing Materials

Chain link fencing. Chain link fences may not have a reputation for looks, but it’s a popular option for many community gardens because it’s relatively inexpensive, requires minimal maintenance and is strong enough to keep out most intruders. Although chain link won’t necessarily deter a resolute vandal,  it will keep out most people and allow you to control access with a locked gate. And while it’s not the most decorative fencing around, it’s an unobtrusive fencing material that can be easily masked with strategic plantings.

Picket fencing. On the more decorative side, picket fencing provides a classic garden aesthetic that complements both flower and vegetable beds. It’s also a style that provides plenty of opportunity for customization, as you can choose the height, picket size and how big the gaps between pickets should be. A well-planned picket fence will keep out most animals and provide a pleasant visual boundary for the garden. If price isn’t a concern, vinyl picket fencing provides all of the benefits of this fence style, without the maintenance associated with wood.

Good neighbor fencing. Typically made of cedar, good neighbor fences are popular because they look equally good from both sides. They are generally taller than picket fences and offer more security. On the downside, a cedar fence requires regular restaining and other maintenance, which could put a strain on your budget.

Learn more about starting a community garden.

[Photo by: Samuel Mann]

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2 Responses to “Portland Fencing Options for Community Gardens”

  1. Judy Sims says:

    Our two acre church property community garden site here in Santa Barbara, CA “broke ground” Nov. 6th 2011 and plans to build a fence and open for use with mounded plots at the beginning of March. I am chair of the garden committee that is dealing with issues of fence design, plot renter contracts, logo design, and more.

    We have a project manager (also a contractor, and church member) that has designed a grape stake fence, using metal posts 2×4 cross pieces, and hardware cloth 2 ft. down into the ground and 2 ft above ground, to help keep out gophers and rabbits. This fence design is creative and quite attractive (varying heights of grape planks), but a number of questions have arisen. (We did not have a development/decision making sequence in place that your helpful written material presents.)

    The purpose of the fence is to keep out critters and to have a locked, secure garden space. (There are two other areas, including an orchard and a multi-use community area, that are not part of the fenced space.)

    The cost of the fence, according to our project manager, is about $30 a linear foot, which seems very high, and this does not include gates. The height is approx. 4 ft., and while there is space between grape planks, it is not a “see-through” fence. I’m wondering, if for liability reasons, the fence SHOULD be see-through. (We are about to add insurance to our annual cost, tagging on to the church’s existing insurance–we’ve been quoted $506 a year.)

    Concern was expressed about using pressure treated wood in a an organic garden, and I heard that keeping the wood 6 inches above soil contact, and not having edible plants growing against the wood, would be OK–though since we DO want to grow edible vines on the fence, we’d need to switch to redwood or cedar, adding more expense.

    Do you have input for our garden committee, based on the above?

    Judy Sims, Chair
    Trinity Gardens
    Trinity Lutheran Church
    Santa Barbara, CA

  2. admin says:

    Hello Judy,

    Thank you for contacting us. Unfortunately, the laws and regulations are different from state to state. As an Oregon-based company, we don’t have a good answer for you. I would encourage you to contact a fencing company around Santa Barbara for more information.

    Rick’s Fencing

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