Landscape Detail: Do Fence Me In

23 Apr

For security and privacy or just a sweet backdrop to the begonias, a fence in your garden or yard is the finishing touch.

By Bud Dietrich, AIA

fence can come in just about any material and any configuration.  From the common but oh-so-homey white picket fence to the elegance of wrought metal, a fence extends the architecture of the house to the edges of the property.  So just as a white picket fence would be out of place where the house is all Tuscan villa, an ornate wrought metal fence would be out of place in front of a Cape Cod home.
Fences also have very specific functional requirements.  They can separate, connect, define, enhance and screen. In addition, they can mitigate acoustic nuisances. To achieve these goals, fences can be open and decorative, like the picket fence, or solid and tall, like one made of corrugated metal.
The style, material and type of fence that’s right for your home depends on what you want it to achieve. And don’t forget to make sure your proposed fence complies with local codes and ordinances.

traditional landscape by Woodburn & Company Landscape Architecture, LLC

The picket fence is the one we associate with small-town America and our colonial roots.  It’s the fence most at home in front of Cape Cod and colonial-style homes.
Because a picket fence isn’t meant to be tall and visually opaque, it’s more often than not used to define an edge or a corner as well as to create a backdrop. As such, a picket fence is more appropriate for a front yard, where it can enhance curb appeal, forming the backdrop for all those wonderful summertime blooms.
traditional exterior by Frederick + Frederick Architects

The board fence is composed of vertical posts and horizontal boards.  Less fussy and stylish than its picket fence cousin, the board fence is a perfect choice for large properties.  The spacing of the boards determines the transparency of the fence.  Here the spacing is far apart, allowing the architecture of the house to come through.
This type of fence functions much like the picket fence in that it defines an edge. It also provides that perfect place to sit on a warm summer day.
traditional landscape by Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd.

The split rail fence is the rustic cousin of the board fence. Most likely found in rural areas to define a property edge and where forming a garden space is the desire.  Made of hand-hewn timber and left to weather naturally, split rail fences have a back-to-nature appeal that machined materials don’t possess.
A favorite type of split rail fence is found in many rural areas, with the fence laid out in a chevron pattern, as here in Conner Prairie, Indiana.
traditional landscape by K West Images, Interior and Garden Photography

Great for security, a metal fence can range from simple to quite ornate, exhibiting the metalIt smith’s skill and expertise.  More often than not finished in black, these fences also have a tendency to almost disappear, making them ideal for when you want a fence for security but don’t want something that’s visually dominant.
eclectic landscape by {environmental concept}

A wire fence is ideal when a lot of transparency is desired. It is the reverse of what one would expect: The fencing is transparent; the gate is solid. This fence establishes a strong connection from one side to the other.
contemporary landscape by Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design

A slated wood fence is ideal for backyards, as these fences both enclose and define a space as well as provide some privacy.  It’s suitable for any style, from colonial to contemporary.
modern landscape by Feldman Architecture, Inc.

A nice feature of a slated wood fence is the ability to vary the dimensions of the slates.  Heavier at the bottom while lighter and thinner at the top, this fence becomes an eye-catching architectural element in its own right.
traditional exterior by Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design

A latticework fence is ideal when more screen and less fence is desired. Like a gossamer fabric, the fence doesn’t provide much security or privacy — perfect for when an edge and backdrop are all that’s desired.
contemporary landscape by debora carl landscape design

A solid fence of wood posts and rails with a corrugated infill creates a striking presence. And the plantings certainly soften the fence, creating a nice combination of textures and colors.  This is ideal for transitional or contemporary architecture, as it combines a clean, modern aesthetic with softer, older materials. And this fence is great at providing privacy as well as security.
traditional landscape by Andrew Renn

Where’s the fence?  For those looking to create an outdoor room, it doesn’t get any better than a living fence and a crisp, clean white gate.  And this type of fence will change with the seasons: barer and more transparent in winter, and full and dense in late summer.
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Design


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