Our fence made out of split cedar is on average about 10 feet high and will obviously keep any but the rare “flying” deer out of our garden. The cost of it all was that of the gas for the truck to get to the scavenging area and the nails or screws that it took to hold it all together. A beach, if you are lucky enough to be close to one is an excellent place to scrounge cedar. If you want to follow the strictly legal route you might want to apply for a permit for scavenging the wood off the beach. Permits are readily available and are good for six months. What you can take and in what kind of condition it must be in is explicitly laid out so you can feel safe in your hunt in case anyone should ask. Unfortunately if you are inclined to follow the strictly legal route you will be somewhat disappointed as under the terms and conditions listed it is clearly suggested that in no case, no matter what length or what condition is one allowed to take any cedar even though it is left on the beach to rot along with the rest of the logging industry’s “unwanteds” ……silly
Paying THAT no heed the adventure can begin. Look for lengths of cedar that are relatively straight and about the length you are searching for. It really doesn’t matter how thick they are. If they happen to be really thick then you will be able to get quite a few lengths out of it. The narrower they are the easier to cart them about in getting them back to where you are going to split them.
Splitting cedar can be either a dream or a nightmare depending on how straight grained they are and how few knots in their length. I use a hatchet which I hold on the spot where I want to make the start of the split and give it a good whack with a heavy hammer or sledge. Usually all it takes is one or two hits and a split will start. Once started keep your hatchet in the split and use another hatchet or an axe or froe and extend the split further up the log leapfrogging your way to the end of the log until if finally comes apart. It really doesn’t take much time or effort to amass enough for a decent size fence.
You will need some posts as well to go into the ground and support the cross pieces that hold the cedar you just split. I have never had a problem finding plenty of logs on the beach suitable to act as posts. The cross pieces going between them are just some of your split cedar lengths that have a bit more girth to them and suit your length needs. I notch them into the posts with a chain saw and nail them solid giving a sturdy crossbeam that will hold the split cedar stiles for many years to come.
The whole thing can seem, without actually seeing it, on the cheap side and possibly unattractive. Cheap it is but certainly not unattractive. We have adorned ours with birdhouses atop the posts and scavenged “beach rope” meandering over the tops of the split cedar stiles. Functionally it has been flawless in keeping out the deer which are notorious for being able to get over very tall fences. To it all a funky gate was added and voila….an attractive enclosure for the veggies to call home.