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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Fence Style Should Reflect Surroundings

March 28, 1992|From Associated Press

Fences do more than just make good neighbors. They can corral a toddler, provide privacy or serve as a backdrop for flowers.

Fences that are one or two feet high make useful edging or borders. Taller fences, about four feet high, easily mark a boundary yet allow a view. Fences six feet or taller establish a strong sense of enclosure. Whatever their height, however, fences are available in a variety of styles.

Homeowners who want a fence that will blend with its surroundings should choose a design that uses natural-looking materials, such as grape stakes, split cedar rails, unpainted redwood or cedar. All of these weather to a subtle gray or brown.

Around a traditional house, a homeowner might want to build a fence that mirrors the home's architectural period. For example, a simple white picket fence might be just right to set off a Greek Revival house. A country-picket fence style would be perfect to set off a doorstep herb garden outside a country-style home. Add finials to the posts and cut the pickets into unique shapes, and give a one-of-a-kind twist to an otherwise-typical picket fence.

Although solid fences provide privacy, they may seem too confining for a small back yard. In addition, a solid fence will cut off air circulation. A better solution for this type of yard may be to install a fence of lattice screen. This open style allows air movement yet still provides privacy.

If the location calls for a solid fence for privacy and to temper noise from a busy street, choose basket-weave or board-and-board fences. Constructed of wood, they easily blend with the surrounding landscape.

For front and side yards, where privacy is less likely to be a major concern, use a fence that defines the property without blocking the view. The split-rail-and-post fence and rail-and-post fences are good choices.

Wood fences are best made from products that resist decay. These include redwood, cedar, cypress and pressure-treated wood.

Consumers who decide to use sheet goods should purchase exterior-grade plywood, which has waterproof glue holding the plies together. Shorten construction time by purchasing a prefabricated fence, such as lengths of trelliswork or stockade.

The cost of wood varies greatly, but generally a wood fence will be less expensive than a masonry wall and more expensive than metal fencing.

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