Trash cans. We all have them but who really wants to look at them. Mine were in full view from my kitchen window so I decided to make them disappear behind a fence.
After not finding anything suitable online (in terms of size, style, material and price), I thought maybe I could just make one. How hard could it be, right? And it was actually pretty simple except for one teensy little thing which I’ll tell you in a minute.
While browsing at the hardware store, the corrugated roof panels caught my eye. The galvanized steel looks modern and the silver color blends in well with the gravel and concrete pavers. I figured I could attach those panels to metal posts, the kind that go into the ground by stepping on them.
This is what I bought:
Materials for making a garbage can fence
- 2 corrugated roof panels, 24″ x 6′, $23.08
- 2 14-gauge steel u-posts, 5′ long, $5.40
- 5 boxes of machine screws, #12-24×3/4″, $5.90
- Wiss tin snips (straight-cut), $9.88
Altogether I spent $44.26 plus tax.
Corrugated roof panel and fence post
Bolts and nuts
Other tools used
A drill, level, tape measure, wrench, screwdriver, garden gloves, straight edge and marker
My plan was to cut the panels to 54″ tall, bolt them together, mark and drill holes to match the posts, install the posts and bolt the panels to the posts.
Normally you’ll see outdoor garbage can screens in an L shape. I wanted to have access to the bins from either side, so I just needed a fence with one panel.
For an L-shaped fence, I would have installed another section at a 90 degree angle to the first one.
And here’s what not to do
Do NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT drill the holes for the posts before you put the posts in the ground. Because, believe it or not, trying to get the posts in the right position to line up with the predrilled holes is practically impossible.
That caused me hours of aggravation.
What I should have done
I should have put the posts in first, then marked the holes and drilled them. Oh well, live and learn.
How to make a fence for trash cans
Step 1: Mark cutting line on panels
If the panels need to be shortened, mark the portion to be cut off using a straight edge and a marker.
Note: Handle these panels with care or use garden gloves. All the edges are very sharp!
Mark cutting line on roof panel
Step 2: Cut with tin snips
Be sure to protect your hands with heavy garden gloves while cutting.
The cut edge will be rough and a little wavy. I planned to install the panel with the cut edge on the bottom, buried in gravel.
Cut roofing panels with tin snips
Step 3: Mark drill holes
Mark panels for holes that will be used to attach the panels together.
Step 4: Put matching holes in the panels
I find it easier to make a starter hole before using the drill.
Make a starter hole with a hammer and nail
Use a drill to make the holes larger
Step 5: Bolt the panels together
Use a screwdriver and wrench to tighten the nuts and bolts.
Panels bolted together
Step 6: Put fence posts in the ground
For this step you need to know how far apart the posts will be and how deep to put them. Posts will fit inside a groove on each end of the steel panel.
Mark the spots on the ground where the posts will be placed. I made a hole in the ground with a screwdriver.
Put the posts in by stepping on them. Use the level to check that they’re straight. Use a tape measure to make sure the posts are the right distance apart and at the same height.
Step 7: Mark holes on panel to match the holes in post
Position the panel on the post and mark the holes with a Sharpie. The panel should be placed with the cut edge being on the bottom.
Mark holes for attaching to posts
This step would be much easier with two people, but you can use wood or bricks to prop up the panel at the right height.
I used bricks to hold the panel in place.
Use bricks to prop up the fence panel or have someone hold in place
Step 8: Drill the holes and attach panel to posts
After the holes are marked, take the panel down and drill the holes. Then prop (or hold) it back up while you put the bolts in. And you’re done!
Before and after pics
Before the fence garbage cans are in full view
Trash cans hidden behind fence made from roofing panels
So there you have it—a simple DIY fence for under $50.
Ah, no more trash cans in view. It’s a beautiful thing!
Click here for the next installment in the backyard makeover,