Outdoor decorating

The Old House Web

picket fence
A picket fenceoffers a pleasing glimpse into a private garden. (Photo: Diane Strumello)

Note: The following informationis used with permission of ServiceMagic,which provides free contractor recommendations from its database of 40,000 homeimprovement contractors & real estate agents. 

Many homeowners install large privacy fences, but a picket fence is a pleasing way tocreate a sense of privacy without blocking out the world.  This classic and practicalfence can be a pleasing way to showcase your landscaping, while still protecting yourplants and yard. Think of the times you've been out for a walk and have stopped to admirea neighbor's garden from the outside of an attractive picket fence.

picket fence

In city neighborhoods with houses close together, picket fences can define private space without creating a fortress effect.  (Photo: The Old House Web)

When considering a picket fence, decide whether it is a practical choice for your home.If the fence needs to contain an animal (or keep one out), the height of a picket fencemight not be adequate. If you are looking for a fence to indicate the boundary of youryard while maintaining a welcoming feeling for visitors, then a picket fence may be foryou.

This picket fence will weather to a silvery color

Some people are hesitant about installing a picket fence because thesefences traditionally are painted. While most picket fences do require yearly touch-ups andscraping and repainting after about five years, there are some alternatives to consider.

Staining can produce a look close to paint, but has the advantage of fading over a fewyears, rather than peeling like paint. Stain is easy to reapply; it can be brushed overthe existing stain without any special preparation. Several types of stains are available.Transparent is the easiest to reapply, while opaque stain might require a bit morepreparation work.

Another option to consider is allowing the wood to weather naturally. Most woods willeventually turn to a silvery, gray color that will blend into the plants and vegetation inyour yard.

If you are determined to have a painted fence, don't fear. If you maintain your fenceand keep touch-up paint on hand, it will be years before the paint chips or peels andneeds to be scraped and repainted. Pay close attention to areas of the fence that willreceive more exposure to the sun and elements.

If any amount of fence maintenance will be a problem for you, you may want to look atalternatives to wood picket fences. Many companies offer PVC fencing that looks liketraditional wood fencing.  PVC offers maintenance free protection for your yard. Itcan be simply hosed off for cleaning, and never needs painting or staining.

Whichever material and treatment you choose, picket fences can make an ordinaryentranceway to a home instantly charming.

yellow house

Although the open gate gives an inviting appearance to this grand home, the formal picket fence clearly sets the grounds off as private. (Photo: The Old House Web)

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