Sunday, September 20, 2015


I spent most of the weekend constructing a fence along the south side of the garden area. 

Over the last few years I have struggled with how to proceed. I always wanted to use plantings to demarcate the end of the garden and the beginning of the back yard. However, the grasses, including the clumping bamboo, never fully created a "fence line." I also didn't want to extend the existing fence style in this direction - towards the house and dinning room window.

More recently I considered a Yotsume-Gaki style fence. 

The idea of using bamboo seemed authentic and the open style appealed to me. I want to demarcate the garden, not seal it off from view. However, there was no local access to bamboo and shipping it was cost prohibitive. I always considered a cedar alternative, but locating small 2x2 cedar style pickets has proven difficult (I do not use treated lumber). However, two weeks ago I stumbled on an available supply.

My plan was simple - install 5 4x4s, cut 6 2x4s into rails, attach 30 2x2 pickets.

I spent one day with the posts and had them aligned and inserted by the end of the day.

The second day, today, I spent cutting rails and attaching them to the posts. 

I then cut the tops off the posts to keep the height of all the posts below the window of the house.

Next step, stain the posts and rails. I will then spend time during the next week notching the pickets, staining them, and attaching them to the rails. I am hopeful I can get this all done in the next two weeks before it starts to get too cold.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ring My Bell

After a couple of weeks, I finally finished the install on the garden bell. I decided to keep the roof for the bell simple. In fact, I was able to build it completely out of scrap wood from past fence and gate projects. 

After setting the main post, removing some peastone and laying new edging, I then moved a large spirea from the Dragon's Spine to the spot next to the stairs. After spreading some new mulch, the area looked much better.

I then began the process of building a roof for the bell. At first, I made the roof out of cardboard. I wanted to make sure my dimensions were correct and that it was proportionally balanced.

Next, I gathered scrap cedar boards and cut and sanded all the pieces. It all went together relatively easy. I also used some thin 1/4 inch cedar boards for the flat portions of the roof. My goal was to also keep the weight down since the post would only support the back half of the roof structure. If it were too heavy, the roof might sag in the front.

Unfortunately, after attaching some scrap roof shingles to the top, the weight increased dramatically. I had considered cedar shingles, but I didn't want to be bothered with the long term maintenance that would have resulted. To resolve that problem I inserted a metal bar through a hole drilled into the top of the post. This bar is attached to a hole in the interior of the front piece of the roof. It isn't visible from outside, but it adds support to the front to prevent sagging and displaces the weight back to the post. The bell itself is resting on the bracket that came with the bell and is attached lower on the post.

The roof was stained the same green as the fence in the garden. I also acquired some wooden ornaments to attach. I liked the large rosette because it resembled the Japanese Imperial crest. I also added a small flower to the top. By off-setting the stain colors, It added more dimension to the structure. 

I also used a similar staining process on the back.

It took some effort to attach the roof to the post on my own. It would have been easier if there had been a second set of hands. Nevertheless, after a lot of clamping and adjustments, I was able to attach the roof and keep it level. In the end, it came out pretty good.