Recycled Fencing

Last year we had our back fence replaced. It was totally decrepit but it had been made of hardwood palings (granted, over 1/2 century ago) and some of that wood was still “useable”. At least after a bit of work.

Frank spent AGES cutting, planing, sanding, puttying then sanding some more, to turn those long, rotten palings into nice, short palings that could be used to make a picket fence for our front yard.

Palings planed, sanded and puttied

Palings planed, sanded and puttied

I spent a bit of time painting the palings.

Palings, painted and ready to go

Palings, painted and ready to go

All that was left was getting rid of the old fence and putting up the new one (right, that’s “all”).

The front fence, from the 1920s, was wobbly, rusty and past its use-by date. It either needed a lot of work or it had to go. I wanted a picket fence, we were the only house on the street without one, and I like them. Frank didn’t disagree (though the workload of actually building one did take some of the shine off the idea). So Frank disassembled that old fence and I advertised it on It was gone to a good home on the first day.

The old fence, gone to a new home

The old fence, gone now to a new home

Hours, days, weeks later and I finally have my white picket fence. Yeah, I know, that old metal one was a beautiful representative of Arts and Crafts style fencing, but I really prefer this wooden fence. It offers a tiny bit more privacy and it’s not about to tip over if someone leans on it. And we made it our selves, 99% from recycled materials.


Beautiful, functional and home-made from things others would toss into a landfill, I consider that a job well done!


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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12 Responses to Recycled Fencing

  1. I am fortunate to have two salvage-recycle businesses where I can shop. I like the concept of recycling materials, intellectually I have always believed in this. I just took a class on using recycled materials that was offered by one of them that was focused on second sourcing and reusing materials to make a garden gate. The class lasted three hours and at the end people almost refused to leave. The first 20 minutes was on the technical aspects of construction technique, the remaining time was used to present different materials and in a group think fashion talking about the possibilities. It was like spending 3 hours in the head of an artist; it was the most amazing experience….I digress, thank you for recycling your fence materials, giving it one more life.

    • That class sounds fantastic. I want to come along!

      We do have a large tip “near” here where a lot of materials are recycled rather than put into the landfill. Sometimes you can find some pretty good stuff there and I’m sure we could have found old palings for cheap which is what we would have done if we couldn’t get enough otherwise. It saves money and saves the planet – so why is it everyone doesn’t do it? Oh yeah, it takes time. Are we really that time poor as a society or do we just have different priorities?

  2. ellamedler says:

    If ever doubt sets in – I would have gone for the picket fence, too, Laura! 🙂
    It looks amazing.

  3. I really have to commend you on all the hard work because it looks so good. It looks like Frank must have spent a long time getting those pickets to look so good. Our fencing in the back leaves a lot to be desired, its just wire stuff and I try to cover it up with the plants growing in front of it. I think nice fencing can be a great asset to a garden.

    • I love the picket fence and it really is hats off to Frank for making it look so great. The raw, old palings did indeed take a lot of work to become pretty little pickets. Frank spent quite a few days covered in saw dust. But it was worth it – even he agrees.

      I’m trying to grow some climbing fig up the back fence (the same stuff that’s wrapping around a few posts of the picket fence) but with my chooks digging at the base, it’s an uphill battle. I know someday it will blend in behind the screening shrubs and until then, I will just have to try not to see it.

  4. karen says:

    Oh, I so loved the old iron fence. It’s how I could find your house among the others!

    But, I have to say, I admire your hard work and tenacity (and Frank’s, of course).

    We recycle here mostly through Wish we had a spot like you do to take/find great items that don’t need to go to a landfill.

    Yes, those who are not retired don’t have the time you do to re-purpose. How quickly you forget!

    Job well done, you two. (of course)

    • 🙂 A friend came over after we changed the fence and it took him a while to find our house. He didn’t know the house number and he couldn’t recognise it without the metal fence.

      You do have freecycle in your area –

      I suspect it’s not used as much as craigslist. We have gumtree here as the craigslist equivalent. Sometimes I put things on gumtree I think I can sell but if they don’t, I move them to freecycle and give them away. The fence I gave away – I wonder if I could have made a bob off it – probably, as scrap metal if nothing else. But it found a good home and that’s what matters.

  5. karen says:

    Checked out our Freecycle (and signed up). It is blank. Apparently everyone here uses Craigslist as it, too, has a free section. I use it a lot. A little freaky but, everytime I post something as free, it’s gone within a couple of hours. Like ants to honey. (sorry for that visual)

    • My local freecycle is great and gets about 20 posts a day. Gumtree also has free stuff but I’ve never seen much for free there. For whatever reason in this part of the world we keep our money and our sharing separate. Your part of the world is obviously more streamlined!

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