Building a Straw Bale Fence

When it comes to privacy and sound buffering, building a straw bale fence is an excellent idea. It may seem at first like something an overzealous greenie might consider but the truth is, there are many very good reasons for straw bale construction, not just for fences but for entire homes.

A fence is something that divides properties, keeps undesirable people and animals out, provides visual and audible privacy and frames a home aesthetically. All of these attributes can be attained with a straw bale fence.

Advantages of Straw Bale Construction

This is a material that is highly prized by those in the know, for its renewability, its plentiful, inexpensive supply and its non toxic composition. For home owners wanting to be friends of the environment, it represents the perfect material and building a straw bale fence just makes total sense. It produces a strong structure and can be shaped in ways that wood fences cannot.

Possible Drawbacks

It’s important to realize that when building a straw bale fence, it has to be done right. You’ll need to consult straw bale enthusiasts in your area, or at least someone who can give you the appropriate information for where you live because the climactic conditions need to be taken into account.

The footings of your straw bale fence will need to be a certain depth and whether you use concrete, a rock/sand bed or bricks is also important. Frost can have a negative impact on some kinds of footings and similarly, extreme heat can be a problem too, so you must find out what would be appropriate where you live.

As you may know, straw bale is the dry remainders of the plant post harvest, and it must be used absolutely dry. Using straw that has any residual moisture in it, say after exposure to high humidity or rain, it will turn rotten inside the fence, compromising the structure entirely.

How to Build a Straw Bale Fence

Now, the word ‘fence’ tends to conjure up images of look-through palings. What we’re actually talking about here is more a wall than a fence, a structure that divides properties and keeps some things out while keeping other things in. Straw bale fences are built in much the same manner as brick walls.

The bales are stacked over a concrete foundation with a heavy plastic placed between the concrete and the straw bales to prevent moisture from the ground getting into the actual wall. High tensile fencing wire or rods are used to hold the bales firmly and these are affixed to a top plate, a strong element such as steel reinforcement sheets or a timber frame. Wire must be threaded through a curved section of polyurethane piping and set into the foundation.

After building the actual straw bale fence, the bales are covered with a layer of chicken wire. Large ‘needles’, not unlike knitting needles are used to kind of sew the chicken wire on one side to that on the other side of the fence, for extra strength and security. Finally, the wall can be coated with a cement render and then painted.

Building a straw bale fence is quite an enjoyable, creative activity that home owners can find a little addictive. Once the fence is up, they then look for new projects that can be built using the same techniques. It can also be a community effort because once someone has a basic understanding about how to build it, the rest is just ordinary skills, like following a recipe in the kitchen. So the social aspects of building a straw bale fence are to be valued as much as the strength, integrity and appearance of the wall itself.

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