Picket Fences
Picket Fences

For some people security and privacy are not significant issues when deciding to install a fence. Some homeowners opt for fences which will simply enhance the aesthetics of their property while also defining a boundary. They often choose picket fences to serve this function. These fences do not prevent visibility of homes and yards, but rather may contribute to a picturesque appearance.

Function

Picket fences do not provide a high degree of security and privacy. They do define a boundary for property but allow complete visual permeability; as such they effectively provide a transition between public and private realms without the harsh appearance of solid walls. They also adequately contain children and small pets.

Characteristics

Traditional picket fences are built with wood, however polyvinylchloride (PVC) is now a common material as well. They typically consist of posts, two horizontal rails, narrow vertical boards, and a gate. Picket fences also do not show elements of strength and sturdiness that designs for many other types of fences and security barriers strive to present. Boards usually range from about one-half inch to three inches wide. The fence is itself not tall, usually ranging measuring four feet. White is the most traditional color for picket fences, but it is possible to use other colors or stains. The crowns of the posts and pickets may also feature decorative details. Common post crowns include ball, pyramid, beveled, and tapered Gothic shapes. Boards are often flat or spear-shaped on their tops. The artistic possibilities afforded by these fences allow homeowners to utilize them as sculptural elements for their yards. These fences add a decorative element to many yards, however they are most compatible with certain types of architecture, such as Southern Colonial or New England Colonial.

Installation

Picket fences may be built as original elements, however some companies offer prefabricated sections and kits. As with other wooden fences, post foundations in concrete and support from metal fasteners protect the fence from sagging. Care should be taken to use wood resistant to rot, mildew, and insects. There are many options for wood protectant, ranging from liquid treatments to insertion of a small, co-biocide rod in the center of the post. Contact your local home and garden store for more information on how to protect your fence pickets.