Picket Fencing Ideas
Design options for wood or vinyl picket fences
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The white picket fence has long embodied the American dream when it encloses a beautiful, flower filled yard. Its roots go back to colonial times when the "dooryard" garden was enclosed by a fence that kept kids in and wildlife out. Barnyard chickens preferred to fly to the top, perch, then fly down into the garden. Pointed pickets evolved to deter them from perching and thereby protect the flowers within. During Victorian times the pickets grew amazingly complex to rival the details of stylish cast iron fencing.
The first picket fences were staves pounded into the soil and connected by a stringer at the top. Of course this did not last long because the wood in contact with earth rotted out. The more evolved fence has posts with a top and bottom stringer to keep the base of the pickets free of contact with the soil.
Typical picket fences are about three feet tall and located in the front yard. Here the height limit is often set by the city codes, if any fencing is allowed at all. Installing a front yard fence of this kind can double your kids' play area because they can be safely enclosed to enjoy the grassy space there. This fence also keeps roving pets off your lawn and out of the flower beds. They are excellent problem solvers for corner lots to protect turf from pedestrians and bikes cutting across.
Picket fence character changes with the way they are finished and the degree of detail. For more rustic homes, cedar or redwood picket fences are left to weather naturally for a beautiful patina that blends into the landscape. A white painted wood picket fence is more of a stand out statement. They serve as the ideal background for roses and perennials where the homeowner wants a beautiful garden visible to the street.
The opportunities for dressing up an ordinary picket fence are to upgrade the gate or gateway with an overhead or decorative posts. Finials atop all the posts lend a much more elegant appearance. Get more information on garden gates.
Vinyl fencing has reinvented the picket fence because of its trim look, appealing detail options and low maintenance. Now homeowners who might never have considered a wood fence are investing in a vinyl picket fence due to the maintenance free aspect. There is no need to repaint every few years as is the case with wood, particularly in extreme climates. Painting pickets is a laborious process, particularly if they're highly detailed and there are plants located along the fence line that restrict access. With vinyl, a simple pressure wash during the dormant season keeps them clean and white.
Patty Pellock of CertainTeed vinyl fencing explains recent changes to the industry. "Even though white picket fences are the standard for vinyl, they aren't for everyone Just this year we've introduced our CertaGrain Danbury line to our picket fence options with many solid and variegated color choices that look like stained wood. These fences are ideal for landscapes where natural wood tone privacy fencing is extended into a picket elsewhere on site or to pick up colors in more variable architectural trim colors."
Picket fence alignment should be carefully considered if planting is desired along its length. If set back from the sidewalk at least a foot or more, there's a perfect border for climbing roses and flowers to grow in front of the fence. The downside to this is passing male dogs may cause plant die out here. When the fence is flushed up to the edge of the sidewalk and all the planting is on the inside, there's no risk of pet damage. However the look won't be as gardenesque from the street, but this presents a more appealing view to the homeowner.
Maureen Gilmer, contributing writer for Landscaping Network, author and syndicated columnist
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