In the story of the Three Little Pigs, the second pig nearly becomes BBQ after making the poor choice of building his house from sticks. If you need to keep out wolves then this DIY lesson is not for you. But if you want an easy-to-build, virtually no-cost, and attractive rustic fence, then read on.
To keep our backyard chickens out of our garden I needed a small fence on the back side of the coop. After exploring many options I remembered the advice of many grandmothers: "When you're looking for something special, you don't have to look in a store. It's often right under your nose." And there it was, right on the ground all around me: sticks, twigs, and branches.
Fences have a long history. The Smithsonian calls fences "icons of the American landscape." Branches of trees on the African savanna were likely the first material used for fences. A fence later became a way of claiming land for private use. Throughout the millennia, when someone needed a fence, they built it with the material that surrounded them. In the American Northeast, stone and wood was plentiful. Many of these fences still stand hundreds of years after they were built by early settlers.
My yard is littered with sticks and branches. Like the early settlers, since the material was abundant and free, all I needed was labor. Willow is a wonderful wood for making wattle fences in the style of old English gardens. But they take time and, most importantly, willow trees. I have mostly maples. So with little time and lots of sticks I set out to make my super easy fence.
The only item I purchased was rebar for bracing the wood. Bamboo, wooden stakes, or posts would also work. I found that the rebar was easy to pound into the ground and flexible enough to allow for varied widths of sticks as I stacked them.
Here's the three easy steps to making a stick fence:
1. Collect and cut branches to length. You can make the sections of the fence any length you wish. It's easiest to make the sections no longer than the average size branches you have laying around. This will minimize the amount of work you'll have trimming the branches down to size and give you more flexibility allowing more branches to be usable.
2. Pound rebar posts about four to six inches apart, depending on how wide you'd like the fence. Try to get the posts at least two feet into the ground. Repeat for each section. For end sections you only need two posts. For connected sections you can pound in three posts so that the adjacent fence sections overlap each other.
3. Place sticks between the posts, stack, and tie. This is the fun part. You simply drop the sticks between your posts. Every foot or so it's a good idea to tie the posts with a piece of rope or wire. This will keep the top of the rebar from bowing outward as you stack your sticks.
My fence is simple and easy. I encourage you to go nuts. If you're interested in doing something more elegant or elaborate, check out my collection of Pinterest Stick Fence pics for some inspiration: https://www.pinterest.com/mattgrocoff/stick-fences/