As their name suggests, privacy fences are built to serve a purpose. You want them to shield your outdoor activities from your neighbors’ eyes and keep your neighbors’ activities from intruding on your view. Because of this dedicated purpose, privacy fences are traditionally built in one of a few styles. But new trends in fencing have begun to change the landscape, so to speak.
Traditional fence style is being turned on its side—literally—with the growing popularity of horizontal-slat fencing.
Horizontal slats, or pickets, are particularly popular in modern landscaping, but can work equally well in any style setting. Horizontal fences lend themselves to unique configurations, such as stepped-height panels, built-in “windows,” and mixed-media posts and accents. Concrete and metal, as well as frosted glass or plastic panels, complement horizontal fencing quite well.
Good Wood for Fences
Using a high-quality wood is critical if you want to maximize the lifespan of your fence. Look for wood that is dense, durable, and most of all, rot-resistant. The most rot-resistant woods are:
- Black locust – One of North America’s hardest woods, black locust is pale brown with a yellowish cast.
- Osage orange – Known for its bright orange or yellow color, osage orange is another hard wood prized for its durability.
- Pacific yew – The wood from this evergreen tree polishes to a beautiful shine.
- Ipe – This Central and South American native is a popular choice for decks and fences due to its strength and natural resistance to insects and decay.
- Jarrah – A type of Eucalyptus, jarrah features a gorgeous reddish shade.
- Old-growth teak – Known for its beauty, teak weathers from a pale yellowy brown to a silvery finish over time.
- Purpleheart – Varying in shades of purple, this gorgeous wood is used in decorative inlays as well as in fences and other outdoor applications.
Some of the most rot-resistant domestic woods are becoming more and more difficult to harvest. Finding reclaimed rot-resistant wood is often your best bet. Other popular fencing woods include cedar, teak, and California redwood. A professional landscape designer or fence builder will be able to help you determine the best wood for your fencing needs.
Pretty Private: Plant Cover
Don’t want a wall of wood or concrete? Use plants and flowers to create a softer privacy barrier that’s lovely to look at.
- Create a lattice fence and fill the spaces with climbing plants and flowers. Common climbers include clematis, honeysuckle, ivy, and Virginia creeper. Your landscape designer will be able to specify climbing plants appropriate for north-, east-, south-, and west-facing fences and walls.
- Place plantings and decorative accents in front of your privacy fence. Large planters can also contain climbing flowers or small trees. Some homeowners choose to set mirrors or ornamental ironwork in on their fences.
- Use oversize ornamental grasses, tall shrubs, and trees. Hardy grasses that reach up towards the sky make unique privacy barriers, as do tall, woodsy shrubs and skinny trees.
Privacy Fences: Another Opportunity for Beautiful Design
Creative landscape designers don’t see fencing as an afterthought—they see it as a chance to bring more beauty and good design to your yard and property. As the saying goes, good fences make good neighbors—and gorgeous outdoor spaces!
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