This is a brush pile. It is composed almost entirely of white ash saplings, with a few elm saplings thrown in for good measure. Some of these saplings were fairly large, since we’ve neglected our South fence line something fierce over the last couple of years. I spent most of Saturday afternoon sawing these suckers down, in many cases from under the neighbor’s fence. I only got about 2/3 of the way done, and opted to complete a different project the following afternoon due to blisters.
That project? Create a small flower bed around our mail box, and move some of the daylilies from the aforementioned South fence line to said flower bed.
At about noon, I walked out my front door and stood looking at the mailbox. I glanced at the fence, then at the brush pile, then at the mailbox again. The night before I researched wattle fencing, feeling morose that I had all these lovely, straight sapling branches and would probably end up just throwing them out for lack of a way to use them. I really hadn’t even thought of putting a fence around the mail box bed, but as I stood there in the sunlight, it occurred to me that I really had nothing to lose.
A little bit of sawing, strategic use of the garden shears, some spading, about 5 hours of total work, and one injured 7 year old, and I went from a mail box surrounded by lawn and a brush pile to this:
You can’t see it, but there are lilies in there. I might get some more of different colors and plant them as well. These should be pretty sparse this year, but I anticipate many years of lovely lilies in the future.
My little wattle fence is made using upright pieces roughly 14″ long, pounded into the ground up to half their length. The four corner pieces are roughly 1″ to 1.5″ thick. The twelve interior pieces are in the 3/4″ range. Then I took long, skinny branches (most starting at 3/8″ to 1/2″ at the cut end) and wove them between the poles. I used 8 narrow branches per row. First on one side, then on the opposite, and then on the other two sides, one branch is woven outside/inside/outside with the ends resting on the outside of the corner poles. The second branch is then woven inside/outside/inside, making sure that the fat ends of each branch are on opposite ends of the row. I think my fence has 8 rows. It is quite sturdy, and once the wood is no longer green, I think it will be even more so, since this fence is made of hardwood (mostly white ash, as I said above) rather than the typical willow whips. I may wrap the top ends of the corner posts to secure the final row from slippage while it is curing, and also for a decorative finish.
Truthfully, this is a little more “rustic” or “country” than my taste usually runs, but I feel so good about using these materials rather than wasting them that I don’t care about style. And the process was so much fun, especially with my daughter helping me (never mind the injury, which was quite funny, actually), that I have another little plan for the too-thin and/or too-short branches left in the brush pile.