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Our new house has a garden, and part of the fence needs to be replaced. Part of what needs replacing is the pole that holds the lock for the garden-door.

Last year, we replaced that part of the fence with a fence made of woven branches, 2 to 5 cm in diameter. We did not use the garden entrance then, but I really want to start using it (because dragging the bicycle through the house to the garden shed is a pain.)

Anyway, a year after we put the fence up, half the branches were completely rotten, and the whole thing literally fell apart.

I believe hanging a untreated fence made of woven branches or bamboo about 30 cm off the ground would make it a lot more durable. If we go for this option we would just need a durable pole to put in the ground. There is a pole of something like concrete at the other end, we could suspend the fence in-between.

Or we could put up a fence that starts at ground level, at least making it less easy for our neighbour's cats to come shit in our garden.

Options are:

  • impregnated wood: the greenish type. Either just the pole or a whole fence.
  • a 'baked' wood pole or entire fence. Heating the wood makes it suitable for outdoor use, but also quite expensive.
  • a tar-impregnated woorden pole, hang untreated fence from it.
  • a stone, brick or concrete pole, hang untreated fence from it. (Is this a DYI project?
  • a plastic pole of fence?

What do you recommend as a sustainable solution? I live in the Netherlands.

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A wooden fence of a rot-resistant material should give you many years of service.

In the various parts of the United States, consider Thuja plicata ("Western red cedar"), Robinia pseudoacacia ("Black locust"), or another similar material.

You can probably search for a rot-resistant wood that is more readily available in your area (or update your question to indicate generally what part of the world you are in and perhaps someone else can find a good option for you).

  • This is interesting, afaik durable wood sold locally is tropical hardwood and suspected to be the product illegal logging. Maybe you have more options your side of the pond or i didnt do my homework (or both). – Ivana Mar 20 '18 at 12:59
  • A little bit of quick looking around suggest you may have black locust as an option... but only maybe. Since it's not native, some folks might argue that what few individuals are around are fair game to be harvested. I'm not gonna argue one way or the other on that one. And they may be rare enough that practically you can't get any, anyway. None of the other species I saw in my brief searching jumped out at me as very rot resistant (of course, I know a lot less about native netherland species than native US species so ...). bomengids.nl/uk/bosbomen.html is the list I found – Jean-Paul Calderone Mar 20 '18 at 13:23
  • But are you saying you recommend sticking the fence poles into the ground just like that, untreated? – Ivana Mar 20 '18 at 16:16
  • I would recommend sticking black locust or red cedar straight in the ground, untreated, yes, and expect that you would get a minimum of ten years service out of them (perhaps much longer if you don't have the worst possible conditions). I have heard of black locust in this kind of use providing 30 years of service. – Jean-Paul Calderone Mar 20 '18 at 17:14
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    You can "treat" your cedar or locust posts in an eco-friendly way by charring them. Build a nice campfire, maybe even get out the marshmallows, especially if you have kids. Put the "ground end" of your posts in the fire pit, and turn occasionally until fully charred. Most rot enters in via the end grain, which is also difficult to char properly. I use a small propane torch to make sure the ends are fully charred. This technique will extend the life of your poles by perhaps 25%, without using any harmful chemicals. – Jan Steinman Mar 30 '18 at 4:41
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Based on this Dutch site and the answer by Jean-Paul Calderone i have compiled a ranking. The fence and the pole for the door-lock can be seen as two separate problems, so solutions for the first (a hedge, woven branches, planks) can be combined with one of the solutions for the second (wood, composite, concrete).

Ranking for the fence:

  1. Hedge: it's renewable and provides shelter for small animals. Some plants like Thuja and Holly will stay green over winter.
  2. Untreated branches or untreated bamboo.
  3. Planking made of un-impregnated FSC wood (for example hardwood or thermally modified softwood) / a stone wall from stones mined locally or in neighbouring countries / a metal fence
  4. Un-impregnated non-FSC wood / stones mined far away / composite material.
  5. Non-FSC hardwood from the tropics / brick
  6. Impregnated softwood.

Ranking for the pole:

  1. FSC Hardwood like Red Cedar, char the underside to get extra durability (thanks Jan Steinman)/ Thermally modified FSC softwood
  2. Concrete pole (not as renewable but apparently durable)
  3. Un-impregnated non-FSC wood / Composite
  4. Non-FSC hardwood from the tropics
  5. Impregnated softwood

I was surprised by the iron fence being ranked as high as wood, but apparetly it's a tradeof between durability and renewability and in theory a metal fence may last decades.

Unrated tricks to prolong the fence-life of wooden poles are placing them in metal holders or just wrapping the under-side in a sturdy plastic bag like the bags compost is sold in.

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