I live in Los Angeles, where lawn space is a pretty scarce commodity. My wife and I have a new kid and a tiny patch of grass in our front lawn that would be great for him to crawl and stumble around on -- if it weren't for the steep drop-off of our front retaining wall.

Here's a look at the front of the house:

We were all out walking the other day and we noticed a neighbor with a wrought-iron-style fence on top of their retaining wall. I recently got a welder for myself, and the wife suggested that a similar fence might be a good use for it. 'Could I do something like that?' she asked.

Well, of course the answer is no. At least, not without the advice of some guys who know how to do this kind of thing.

The neighbor's fence is made in a kind of rudimentary way. It doesn't use punched channel. It's just a set of 9' rectangles made of 1-1/4" square tube with 3/4" square tube pickets and standard finials.

We looked at some other fences and agreed that we'd prefer slightly-less-thick dimensions for our fence. I'm thinking 1" square tube for the frame and 5/8" for the pickets. She wants the same type of construction -- no punched channel.

Here's another look at the wall. The idea is to pull out some of the landscaping, put in some more grass. The fence will be about 32" high. (I'm pretty sure I'm okay with that, relative to local zoning.)

My questions:

1) Is this going to be a nightmare with my HH140 Mig welder? It seems pretty straightforward -- but then, a lot of things look easy when you've never done them.

2) Is 16 gauge tubing the right way to go? I could go thicker on the 1" frame pieces, but if 16 is good all around I'll go that way.

3) I'd like to leave the wall as it is, assuming the whole thing will come down when the kid is big enough. To this end, I was thinking of capping the wall with a 1-inch thick piece of wood (the feet for each section could bolt to the wood), with buttress pieces coming up from behind the wall that would be seated in concrete post holes.

4) Is there anything I'm missing? I've got the welder, a steel-cutting band saw, the normal set of other tools (hammer, grinder, clamps, magnets) and safety gear. I'm prepared to do a lot of practice welds before I jump into the real thing.