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Picture of Modular Free-Standing Planter Box Yard Fence / Baby Gate
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Hey Instructables!

Here's an all-new concept I came up with for making a free-standing yard fence with a planter box, made out of simple materials and hand-held tools. This is great for keeping pets and toddlers safe, without committing to a permanent fence. Great for renters, or when you know you only need a fence for a few years and don't want to drill holes into your terrace or deck.

This design is modular, so it is easily adaptable to any size or length required. You could just make a single planter to block a path, or a whole row of these as a yard fence.

This is my entry into the 'Safe & Secure Challenge'. I did this design over a year ago, and I don't have any photos of the build, so I've done some SketchUp diagrams to illustrate the step-by-step. I'll give indicative dimensions, but you'd have to adjust to fit the size of the planter boxes you can get.

Step 1: The 'BEFORE'

Picture of The 'BEFORE'
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My driveway (if you can call something barely a few inches longer than my hatchback car a 'driveway') backs up right to my side terrace. I've always worried that my wife'll back the car right into those concrete steps one day, but that's a whole different instructable.

Ever since my kid started to crawl I was also terrified that one day he might decide to run out into our driveway as someone is backing into the lot.

So I set to work designing a free-standing yard fence that would be baby-proof, temporary (no holes in my tiled floor!), and with a gate that we can open easily on a daily basis. Oh, and it had to be aesthetically pleasing. I'm a card-carrying modernist through and through, so no picket fences or unresolved corners are allowed in my designs!

revilohm6 months ago
Great idea and beautiful design which could even be used as interior room dividers.

With a slight modification the need for screws in the acrylic panel could be eliminated. Cut a slot in the frame pieces wide enough for the acrylic to fit in, then assemble the frame around the acrylic panel. The panel would "float" in the slot and flex slightly to help prevent cracking if the panel is bumped or if the panel expands/contracts as temperature changes.

Again, excellent idea.
ucn (author)  revilohm6 months ago
Thanks for the suggestion. That was the initial idea, but I decided to keep it simple. Glad you liked it!
barbg1127 months ago
What a great idea! It looks great and it can also work to keep pets in (or out of areas). I can see that with a slight modification it could be used for climbing plants too (by replacing plexiglass with wood lattice or the plastic/metal cutout lattice).
Also, by embedding rare earth magnets into the area where the gates meet, they would stop at the closed area and look locked even it you forget to latch it (not helpful for child safety but esthetically would always looked locked).
Great idea with many uses!
ucn (author)  barbg1127 months ago
Thanks! The climber idea would work great for the planter modules.
TedH177 months ago
Did you treat the box with anything? Being plastic I know it will last a while, but between the sun and winter, it will get pretty brittle and crack after a couple of seasons.
ucn (author)  TedH177 months ago
@TedH17 & @JoniS28 - totally agree that most plastics will go brittle after a few years. But this temporary fence wasn't meant to last more than a few years anyway!

so far so good, it's been over a year and no noticeable deterioration.
TedH17 ucn7 months ago
Thanks! I think my wife would love these planters
ucn (author)  TedH177 months ago
Originally I thought of making the frame more rigid so that the planters are just sitting on the timber base as a dead weight. But I screwed the timber verticals to the top edge of the planter box for more stability.

if you made the frames more rigid with some corner braces at the bottom, then you could just keep the planters separate. I.e. easy to replace.
These came out really nice!
jpham137 months ago
What is the thickness of the acrylic you used?
ucn (author)  jpham137 months ago
The acrylic is 3mm thick, but remember this is meant as a temporary fence for a few years at most. I also simply pre-drilled holes and nailed it to one side of the frames.

For a more permanent version of this fence I would probably go with slightly thicker timber, and inset the acrylic into grooves for a more finished look.
JoniS287 months ago
Fantastic job on this nice looking fence! Love your images too. I don't know how long white plastic boxes will last in the sun. I know that in Louisiana most plastic outside gets brittle over time in our hot sun. I am going to try to make some cement planters for some of my containter plants.
ucn (author)  JoniS287 months ago
@TedH17 & @JoniS28 - totally agree that most plastics will go brittle after a few years. But this temporary fence wasn't meant to last more than a few years anyway!
so far so good, it's been over a year and no noticeable deterioration.
ElaneT7 months ago
I love this idea and am going to use the planter only, no need for modules portion
ucn (author)  ElaneT7 months ago
I can see the upper frame used as a climbing trellis or something if you just use this as a planter.

All the best! And give me a vote if you like this instructable please!
seamster7 months ago
Excellent after-the-fact instructable. This is how you do it! : )

Great idea, and nicely executed!
ucn (author)  seamster7 months ago
Thanks seamster! I'm sure I took process photos but I can't find them now. It took the Safe & Secure contest to get me to finally post this. :)