I think we have more metal fence posts in place around our yard than the average home. This is only partly due to us living on an acre. Our neighbors, all with similarly sized or smaller lots, generally have white vinyl fences, if they have fences at all. Most of these seem mainly decorative, though a couple of them contain dogs. The neighbor directly across the street has chosen chain link. There is one lot next to us that is large enough to have a 2 acre horse pasture, which is surrounded by electrical fencing. So, our more rural, inexpensive choice of fencing is not out of place.
Most of our fence posts are around the perimeter of our yard, because the fencing is to keep my dog safe. At least that is how she sees it. If she gets out accidentally, she is always so grateful to get back in. The other fence posts are used in places like the chicken pen and for trellises in the garden. I have put many of them in place. I am in charge of lawn maintenance around them. I am the main person who thinks about moving them, much to both my husband’s dismay and/or entertainment, depending on how much work it is for him to deal with my mess.
I have some advice for those of you considering this type of fence. I’m not trying to discourage you. It just might be helpful for you to be aware of these things before you start. There are advantages and disadvantages.
1. Pounding in metal fence posts for even a 4 foot fence or trellis requires you to defy gravity and work with it all at the same time. Unless you are well over 6 foot tall, the height that you need to lift your arms and the force you need to be able to apply to the top of the fence post are mutually exclusive. Thus, my observations in point #2.
2. Metal fence posts don’t go in straight. Period. If straight is important to you, find a basketball player. Ladders may be useful, but the same force used to propel the metal post into the ground could very likely be the force that jettisons you off the ladder.
3. Post hole pounders are heavy enough to help pound in the fence post, but you will need to start a weigh lifting program several weeks before fence building if you want to lift it up and over more than one fence post a day. It is exhausting. And you don’t want to be tired when you do it, because if you can’t keep control of it, it will crush some part of you.
4. Post hole pounders have handles and you disregard this at your own risk. As I mentioned in my blog about my first arched bean trellis, the post hole pounder is SO heavy that you will not be in control of it once you send it on it’s downward trajectory. This trajectory may very well reposition your hands if they are not firmly gripping the handles, and your hands may get caught receiving the force. This will not lead to a merely a minor wound, even if you have gloves on.
5. It is difficult to mow or trim grass that is up against the metal fence post or under the metal fencing often attached to metal fence posts. This is a job only to be attempted when you are feeling very serene. The weed whacker string just breaks when it hits the metal, without cutting very much grass. Grass grow up into the angles of the fence post. Then, the grass get neglected there, it goes to seed in your flower bed, ends up being the dog’s favorite place, and debris blown by the wind hides there. Even using hand held grass scissors has it’s limits, not only due to the time it takes, but because they cannot get up next to the post. It practically requires fingernail scissors to cut the blades one at a time.
6. Fence posts can be a challenge to get out of the ground. I wrote about how I recently learned to use leverage do that in this article for D&B Supply. At least they aren’t cemented in, so mistakes or changing your mind are relatively less troublesome.
7. This type of ranch fencing is relatively inexpensive compared to other fences, so mistakes aren’t as costly. Plus, larger areas can be surrounded at less overall expense.
8. It doesn’t block the view much. This can be good or bad, depending on your neighbors. However, there is the option of planting vines to grown on it for some privacy.
9. It is weather resistant. It is also easy and inexpensive to fix if trees or limbs smash it. We have had a large willow tree branch fall on ours. It was easy to bend the wire fencing back into shape and reset the post. On the other hand, the neighbor’s vinyl fence that was broken by one of their trees is still broken several months later.
10. It isn’t damaged by sprinkler water and doesn’t need to be stained. In fact, the fence post can actually be used as a stabilizer for a raised sprinkler if you need to redesign to water an area better!
11. It doesn’t attract insects, like wasps building nests in the hollow of vinyl fences.
In spite of my mishaps and learning curve, this kind of fence has been a good choice for us. It has been a good way to experiment with where a fence boundary is most useful or where it creates hassles that were not anticipated. So far, our metal fence has lasted for 8 years. We are working on ideas to solve some of the problems I’ve mentioned, but until then, I know how to move the posts around if I need to…