Fences: Standing Guard
Whether you’re trying to keep your children and pets within their limits or you’re simply looking for an attractive way to define your property lines, you can find plenty of fencing options to meet your needs. From classic wood to the latest composites to the unique look of bamboo, the options are endless, and you’re sure to find one that fits both your home and your personal style. Remember: “As the old saying goes, ‘Good fences make good neighbors,’” says Mark Schisler of Legacy Landscapes (www.legacylandscapes.com) in Marietta.
Privacy and safety
“First and foremost, fences offer privacy,” says Bryce Lambert of Bamboo Fencer (www.bamboofencer.com). They also provide boundaries, both for your own family and for others. “Fences around a home’s perimeter can keep people and pets on and off your property. You can have a sense of security when your children play in your backyard when it’s enclosed by a fence,” says Mike Loughery of CertainTeed Corporation (www.certainteed.com).
Of course, the level of privacy will vary with the type of fence you choose. Solid fences allow you to entertain or relax in your yard without feeling like you’re on display for the entire neighborhood. If you’re looking for added security, some companies, like Fortress Fence Products, create wood fences that are reinforced with iron to combine good looks with a sense of safety.
If privacy is less important than simply providing a play area for pets, chain-link fencing is an affordable option. “Chain link is still very popular because it’s cheap, and privacy isn’t always needed. It does create barriers and, depending on the height, can also dissuade intruders,” says Edmund Rose of CFC Fences & Decks (www.fenceutah.com). Another great option for keeping your dog safe is Ameristar Fence Products’ Echelon Plus Puppy Panel. The aluminum fencing is perfect for pets because of the narrow spacing between the pickets that reduces the risk of your puppy getting its head caught in the rails.
Of course, you can’t forget swimming pools. Fences with gate hardware specifically designed for pool applications can help prevent drowning. “While you may adequately train children in your family to be mindful of the danger of swimming pools and even teach them to swim, a pool that is not protected can be enticing to a neighbor’s child, who is not trained to swim or aware of the safety concerns,” says Todd Edlin of Allied Fence Co. (www.alliedfence.com) in Mableton and Lawrenceville. In most areas, any home with a pool is required by law to have a fence of a certain height around it, as well as a gate with sturdy latch and lock.
Get the look
While safety and privacy might be the main reasons why homeowners install fences in the first place, good looks matter too. “Fencing used to be mostly functional in nature. That’s not the case as much anymore. Homeowners are investing in landscaping much more heavily, and the fence is becoming an extension of the outdoor living experience,” Rose says.
Wood, vinyl and composite fences are most popular right now, and they all offer unique looks. “The biggest trend in vinyl fencing is texture and color, so the fence better emulates the typical wood fence,” Loughery says. Companies like CertainTeed offer vinyl fencing in a wide array of styles, colors and textures, including patterns that mimic materials like cedar to create the look of natural wood, and even a product that mimics the look of stucco. Composite fencing, from companies like Trex and Simtek, is also available in many styles, some of which even mimic the look of stone or brick.
Want to try something truly unique? Consider bamboo. Made from bamboo poles configured in a variety of styles, bamboo fences are a sustainable choice that will add a touch of natural beauty to your yard. “Bamboo panels are pretty reasonable and less expensive than lumber and pre-fab lumber panels,” Lambert says.
If you’re sticking with a simple split-rail fence, wood is a great natural option, but you can also find pre-formed, faux-stone pillars to use between the rails. And iron or painted aluminum fencing also is a good choice. “One of the most popular kinds of fence in Atlanta is ornamental aluminum, which is beautiful and typically meets even the most stringent codes for swimming pool safety,” Edlin says. “Ornamental aluminum fences are less expensive to install than wrought iron, and over time even more so, because they are aluminum and will not require routine repainting.”
Maintenance and budget
Still can’t decide which type of fencing is right for you? Different materials come with different price tags and maintenance issues. “A wood fence will be the lowest initial investment compared to a metal or vinyl fence,” Loughery says. “However, out of all types of fence materials, wood fences demand the most maintenance and can end up being most costly over the lifetime of the fence.”
Wood fences will need to be treated, painted or stained every few years, so it takes time and money to protect their appearance and prevent them from rotting over time. Vinyl may cost more initially, but it will cost less over the life of the fence because, according to Chamblee Fence Company (www.chambleefence.com) in Norcross, it’s virtually maintenance-free, making it an economical choice. Composite fences are also very low-maintenance, and they have a strength that tends to stand up to time and weather.
Natural materials definitely have their advantages though. “A big trend in fencing right now is a move to natural materials; a preference for the sustainability and aesthetics of natural products over processed and chemically treated lumber and vinyl,” Lambert says. In general, most fences are pretty low-maintenance, unless they have to be repainted every few seasons. When you have your fence installed, be sure to check with the manufacturer to find out what you need to do to keep it looking its best.
Before you get started on your fence project, be sure that you and the fencing company you choose know where your property lines are. Have a survey done to ensure that you’re staying within your boundaries. Also, be sure to check for city and county requirements such as height restrictions. It’s important to check with your neighborhood’s homeowner’s association as well.
Source: Mark Schisler, Legacy Landscapes Inc.
Any type of fence, from wood to vinyl, can be personalized with a custom-made gate. Iron gates look great not only with iron fences, but also combined with other materials. Think your wood or composite gate looks a little blah against your lovely landscape? Pep it up with specialized hardware: New hinges, latches and handles can make a huge difference.
If an above-ground fence isn’t for you, but you still want to keep your dog from running away, consider investing in an Invisible Fence system. A wire will be installed around the perimeter of your property, and it will send a safe warning to your pet when it reaches the edges of its boundaries.
Source: Invisible Fencing by Peachtree
Fence Is Right for You?
Are you having trouble deciding which type of fence you need? Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is the main purpose of your fence?
● Safety, child or pet enclosure
2. In what type of location will your fence be situated?
● Part of the yard
3. How much time are you willing to give to maintenance?
● As much as needed
● As little as needed
● None at all
4. Will you need a gate for your fence project?
● Yes ● No
How many gates will you need?
● 1 ● 2 ● 3 ● More
5. What is most important to you during your next fence project?
● Property value
Check your answers and take them with you on your fence-shopping venture—they’ll help the sales staff help you!
Source: American Fence Association