Wimberley Valley - America's Sweet Spot For Native Fences, Gates & Walls

by Lew Smith

The entry gate at the new Oohla Bean Inn & Retreat on Elder Rd. in Driftwood has to be one of the largest (and most unadorned) in the state.

Every section of the country can boast of some special native material to work into durable fences and walls. Adobe in the SW, boulders in New England, bamboo and cypress in the Gulf states come to mind.

Further adding to its uniqueness is the custom cedar post stack fence which

extends out from both sides. The name is pure whimsy.

But, here, our Hill Country habitat is truly a sweet spot for materials which contribute beauty as well as brawn to our land containment and boundary needs. There isn't much that can beat the appeal or strength of a cedar post & rail fence or stone wall.

Combination cedar/T-post/wire fencing is just about everywhere in the Hill Country. A particular challenge, as shown, here is incorporating a swing up gate section that spans a creek. Flash flood waters will swing the brown PVC pipe at the bottom up and out of the way along with the gate fence section.

Common tools of the wire fence trade include green "T" posts in the background and (from left): roll of barbed wire with a small clamp stretching device on top, a yellow barbed wire stretching "jack" tool, gloves, gray "T" post pounder (put it over the top of the post and pound away until it's sunk into the ground), popular 41" fence fabric roll, a pair of combination fence pliers (stuck into the roll), heavy duty wire cutters and a post hole digger. In between the post hole digger handles is a rusty portion of a hill country fencing necessity – a heavy "blue bar" spear used for "persuading" rocks out of the way.

Those options are just the beginning. We regularly break the monotony of ordinary wire fences with cedar posts at intervals and corners – saving on welding and iron posts. Some land owners also have enough material on hand to go with80% cedar instead of "T" posts as supports.

"Zigzag" rail fences are sprinkled throughout the Hill Country. Also called "worm" and "snake", they're about the easiest fence to take apart, move around and build around objects such as large oaks.

Just about every sort of traditional post and rail fence can be seen and studied in a working environment at the LBJ State Park located at Stonewall on Hwy 290 (about 14 mi west of Johnson City).

If we want to step up a notch in craftsmanship and invest a bit more in time and effort, there's still no shortage of material. Beginning again with cedar, we regularly see split rail, post & rail, zig-zag (aka snake, worm & stack) and stockade examples all around here.

Another simple, but appealing and practical cedar fence frames this cattle guard ranch entrance.

A seldom-seen variety of cedar fence is about as basic as it is rare: a thick, tightly packed wall of cedar branches. Main thing about it is it's effective and practical, but not especially lovely to look at. But, when it comes to working ranch fences, the general rule is "pretty is as pretty does."

The ages-old cabin is a landmark along Mt Gainor Rd. -- a back road from the Wimberley Valley up to Dripping Springs. Adding to its appeal is a beautifully restored dry stack wall that extends around a sizeable ranch.

We know this amazing wall is dry stack (in addition to its stabilizing stone inserts everywhere) because it was once whacked by something, revealing its construction. Now fully repaired, it can be seen a few miles up Mt. Sharp Rd. from Jacobs Well Rd.

Another plentiful material most ranchers need to clear along with mountains of cedar is tons of every sort of rock. The only factors dampening the urge for stone walls seem to be time and talent which quickly add up to significant cost. Some do-it-yourself masons have a knack for placing the right stone in the right place while maintaining a straight line or plumb, but most don't. It looks much easier than it is. Still, dry stack (no mortar) or otherwise, there's nothing more special than a rock wall.

A cedar post "star" gate contributes natural character and practicality of this pole barn far better than a store-bought galvanized pipe alternative.

Along with special fences and walls, uniquely crafted gates are usually right there as well. No question they're a step above store-bought pipe and wire varieties. This is where we really see artful combinations of cedar plank or post gates complimenting stone walls or cedar fences. We're also fortunate to be near what amounts to an open-air "library" where we can see and study all types of authentic historic cedar fencing options. They're at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm which a part of the LBJ State Park (14 mi. west of Johnson city on Hwy 290)


The Musings of Lew Smith.

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Cabin On A Hill
Fischer, Texas
Purple Martin Apartment Quest
The Texas Longhorn
Rain Water Harvesting To The Rescue
Wimberley Native Fences-Gates-Walls

Visitwimberley.com contributor Lewis Smith,
explores different fence building styles and types.
Photographs and Article by Lewis Smith.