It has always been a tradition when one of my beloved pets would pass away, to make a stepping stone to place on top of the grave. Eventually as the stone settled in the ground and the grass crept over the stone it would slowly disappear from sight. When my horse died at the ripe old age of 36, I decided to decorate this pasture gate in her honor, complete with barbed wire wreath and a weathered old barn-board with her name on it.
The tiny trees I planted behind the gate have grown taller than me and for a good part of the summer it becomes a jungle of weeds. The best part though, is that even a decade after I put it up, despite the weeds and trees the memory gate is still a visible tribute to the beautiful horse that once grazed the pastures there.
So, one weekend my sister and I were browsing a farmer’s market and we saw the cutest little painted wooden flowers. She thought it would be cute to hang them on her fence in the back yard and wished there was some way she could use them like memory markers for her pets instead of the stepping stones. The idea reminded me of that old pasture gate I had decorated in my horse’s memory. It was a great idea, but rather than buying the wooden flowers at the market that day we decided to think of a way that we could make something comparable.
Jen decided that rather than hanging wood flowers on her fence she would paint some flowers directly onto her fence above her flower bed, near where her pets were laid to rest.
She started her project by using some patio décor items in the shape of a flower and butterfly that she laid on construction paper and traced around them to make templates. After cutting out her templates she held them in place on her fence and traced around them with a pencil.
The next step was to paint her design on with indoor/outdoor patio paints. She outlined and accented them in black which really makes them pop from a distance! She painted each pet’s name in black lettering above a flower or butterfly. You could use stencils if you aren’t comfortable with freehand lettering.
She found a rustic wood plaque with a rope hanger at Hobby Lobby. She used a paint marker to put the words of a poem on the plaque. She sealed the sign and her fence-design with clear, polyurethane sealer. (Don’t forget to cover the flowers in your flower bed when you spray!)
Now she has a cheerful memory wall in a sunny corner of her yard!
I love Sis’s memory fence and how visible it is compared to a stepping stone. But I did not want my design painted directly onto my fence. I had saved the boards from an old white fence I had taken down in my yard last year. I decided to use them to make “memory pickets” that I could attach to my fence. That way if I decide to move from my home or change my garden lay-out, I can easily remove the pickets.
I started my project by measuring the distance between the top and bottom cross-boards on my fence, making sure to measure from the top of the top cross-board and to the bottom of the lower cross-board. I cut an old white fence board to fit. I used sand paper to sand off any loose paint and wiped off the dust with a rag. I positioned the picket against the cross-boards on the fence again and made pencil marks on the board where I would need to drill holes to screw the board to the fence. I drilled the holes using a drill bit that matched the size of the galvanized screws I was going to use to attach the picket to my fence.
I drew my design on with pencil before I painted it. You could use stencils if you want; I prefer to draw/paint freehand and enjoy the rustic results!
I chose an outdoor acrylic craft paint in some bright colors that match my patio theme. After I finished painting my design, I lined the entire design with black paint to make the lettering really stand out. After the paint dried I sprayed the entire board with polyurethane sealer. I used galvanized screws to attach the board to my fence.
Now I have a colorful picket to honor the memory of my sweet, fat-cat, Lucky Nelson.