Marketplace Intro: The art of fencing

The days of tossing up a chain link or prefabricated wooden fence are gone, at least for some sectors of the market. More and more people are realizing the element of fencing not only serves the practical purposes of privacy or safety, but can also add art to a landscape. With hundreds of options available, virtually any property can be transformed simply by the combination of pickets and rails.

Despite the current economic flop, fencing is still a viable option for many high-end residential customers. Paul Bulten, product manager for Ameristar Fence Products, says people who still have money in their pockets realize a good ornamental fence can keep a property value higher. They are using this time to repair, replace or upgrade fencing as a way to fix up their properties.

Donna Carucci-Krumm, marketing director for Wayside Fence, agrees the market hasn’t been affected for the upper end. She says people in the middle-income bracket aren’t buying as much, and those who just need a fence will still choose the bottom of the line.

For customers who can afford to add fencing as an artistic element, landscapers should consider four ways to give a fence an aesthetic look.

The first is in the basic design of the fence. Bulten says the spacing of the pickets and rails is an easy way to mix things up. Additionally, pickets can either be flush with the top rail, or they can extend higher for a classic ornamental look. Extended pickets can also vary in length, and this same treatment can be done for the bottom rail.

Carucci-Krumm sees more customers adding arches into the fence line or adding sweeps at the end of a driveway. Fencing accent pieces can flank both sides of a driveway as well. Other customers are choosing to incorporate fencing between brick or stone columns or add it to the top of a brick wall.

Included in design is color. Bulten says black is still the most popular, but white is gaining favor in coastal areas. Bronze is a popular color in the north, and customers in the southwest are choosing a desert sand color.

A second way to give a fence an artistic appearance is to add post caps or finials to the pickets. Carucci-Krumm says some people go with a theme – for a horse ranch they might incorporate horse head post caps. Bulten says while ball tops are popular, finials are available in hundreds of shapes, from pineapples to arrowheads to a fleur-de-lis shape.

Another decorative option with a functional twist is using solar post caps. They illuminate the property while giving the landscape a more dramatic effect.

Adding internal fittings or inserts to fence panels is a third way to dress up a fence. These can be anything from butterfly scrolls to a family’s initials and are also popular to apply to gates. An interesting alternative Carucci-Krumm suggests is to forgo the traditional fence altogether by installing plexi-glass panels. In coastal and mountainous areas, home-owners can keep their views.

Lastly, architectural elements such as arbors and pergolas turn an ordinary fence into a work of art.

“More people are enhancing their properties and doing staycations,” says Carucci-Krumm. “With outdoor rooms, pergolas work well.”

Arbors can be used to train vines, or benches can be built inside them to offer a resting place. Wayside Fence has a line of gates that fit inside arbors and pergolas, or the structures may stand alone to serve as a faux gate.

“With so many options on the market today,” Carucci-Krumm says, “you don’t have to settle for just something to throw up there.”

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