Fenced In

A well-constructed and thought out fence can be both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

For me the fence had to be a considered part of the finished product, not an after thought.

A fence can be so much more than a barrier between you and the world.

A fence is one of the first things that introduces people to your home. It has the potential to not only complement the home, but make a statement. Of course, a fence also needs to meet some practical requirements of home life such as keeping kids and pets in and unwanted visitors out – not that I have to worry about keeping the kids in these days… it seems they don’t want to leave.

Most fences I see are simply palings slapped up quickly and cheaply. There is little to no care from the builders in ensuring that the fence will last the distance and enhance the home. A case in point was a paling fence that was recently erected on a home near us. The whole job only took a few days and I think that one of those must have been a Friday; the top of the fence hasn’t been finished off neatly and has a huge hump. Two months down the track and the top of the palings are warping and twisting – according to our builder, this is due to the top rail being placed too low down. Additionally, with the wet summers we have, the base of the pine palings will begin to rot out. The end result is an unsightly fence that does nothing to enhance the home and becomes a costly replacement down the road.

With all this in mind, we had a good chat with our builder about our vision for the fences for the new home. The existing fencing consisted of one side fence – constructed from Asbestos cement sheeting and a rear fence made of spaced timber palings. Both of these will eventually require replacing, however they are meeting our need for the moment so we won’t do anything about these for a while.

We decided on two different styles for the new fencing. The first, at the front of the house, is designed to enhance the entrance area while the second is a dividing fence between the old Queenslander we renovated and the new home.

Combining style and security

Good neighbour fences keep everyone happyThe front fence is constructed from Kwila. It has been oiled, and will match in with the decking and stair screen as well as contrasting with the neutral colour of the house. We followed our usual research method (wandering around the nearby suburbs) to get some ideas on fence design and noticed one that uses a wide and a narrow board to create texture and interest. The builder has installed two fences to form a walkway. The fence closest to the driveway is 1500mm high while the dividing fence between the properties is a standard 1800mm high and uses a ‘good neighbour’ design. This provides some contrast while defining the entrance and boundary.

The rear side fence needed to be stronger as I plan to create a green wall on part of it. We opted for a ‘Good Neighbour’ design here as well. With this style of fence the palings are placed in a staggered pattern on both side of the rails. This benefit of this style is that no-one gets the rail which creates an aesthetically pleasing wall and improves security.

We also requested the installation of a plinth board to this fence. A plinth board is a great way to make fences last longer. The plinth board becomes the sacrificial board at the base of the fence, if it rots out you simply replace this board rather than the whole fence. A plinth board can be partially buried which assists to keep any escape artist pets within the boundaries of your home.

Sacrificial plinth board

You’ll note in the picture of the plinth that we have a third, standard paling fence being constructed running at right angle to the good neighbour fence. We have gone for a standard paling fence here, as this fence is ‘temporary’. I say temporary, however it may be a fairly long-term temporary fence. We decided to appropriate 6 – 7 metres off the rear of the Queenslander’s back yard. The Queenslander will be rented out and from past experience we found tenants like to have a small, easy-to-maintain backyard. On the other hand, we now have additional yard space for gardening, a shed and the dog. Of course, if we sell this property down the track we will need to remove the fence and continue the side fence all the way through.

Obviously, fences are accompanied by gates, but that’s another story…

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