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Ideas for Decorative and Ornamental Fences

A new fence can provide both a practical and attractive addition to any home or property. Even old fences can be dressed up, often becoming a focal point in the landscape. Fencing options range from the traditional white picket fence that surrounds many older homes to more modern installations using geometric shapes to add flair. Even materials vary widely and have specific pro’s and con’s to be considered based on use, budget, and personal preference.

Wooden fencing comes in every shape and size imaginable, can be finished with paint or stain to compliment any style, and is commonly available. Installation is relatively easy, and can accommodate steeper grades than other, less adaptable options. Another traditional option in wooden fencing is lattice, which offers structure for climbing plants, allows light through, and still provides some degree of privacy. Pressure treated lumber will add to the durability and life of the fence, as well as the initial cost. Given these advantages, it is plain to see why wooden fences are so popular.

Another popular fence material that has stood the test of time is stone. Depended upon for everything from fortifications across Europe to the Great Wall of China, stone is obviously a durable choice for a fence. It can also provide an ornamental backdrop to a flower garden, a rustic feel to a garden path, or even a sturdy barrier to block out noise from traffic or an air conditioner. It can be dry-stacked without using mortar for a more provincial appearance. If solid support is the goal, few materials compare to the strength of stone. Stone is more expensive due to the additional costs of the materials, transportation, and labor. This additional cost is offset by extremely low maintenance.

Decorative and ornamental fences of iron, steel, or aluminum are an excellent option as well. Iron is the more traditional choice, but is often rather costly. Steel is the strongest and is a strong, attractive option for areas that must be aesthetically pleasing as well as secure. Aluminum is the least expensive option, but still provides adequate strength, minimal maintenance, and visual appeal. More and more decorative fences are made of metal, framing corrugated roofing panels in wood make for an eye-catching modern look. When paired with the right furnishings can make a very sophisticated look. Each of these choices have specific installation allowances, and although generally more adaptable than vinyl installation is not as accommodating as wood or stone.

Chain link is frequently the last option when considering materials for a decorative fence, but it can be a very effective addition, especially when budget concerns arise. Generally associated with the grey metal fencing surrounding construction sites, chain link can be dipped in vinyl or painted to blend with the environment. It is particularly useful on large properties where long stretches of fencing are required, often out of immediate sight.

In recent years advances in the manufacture of plastics has introduced vinyl as a viable alternative to more traditional fencing materials. Installation of vinyl is easy, but is not recommended for properties with steep inclines or frequent changes in grade. Vinyl offers a decorative fence with very low maintenance, ease of installation, and is not affected by the elements like some other options.

The rise in production of bamboo flooring and other building materials introduced this useful, renewable resource to the decorative fencing industry. Used for millennia throughout asia, bamboo is strong, durable, and offers many of the benefits of wood at lower cost. Bamboo is often used as a screen to hide an undesirable feature or extra privacy. It can also be framed with wood for an interesting and inexpensive alternative appearance. For a truly low cost alternative, the bamboo can be cut into sections and lashed together for temporary support or utilitarian asian appearance.

Frequently two or more of these materials are combined to form a tailored solution solving the owner’s needs while balancing the constraints of aesthetics and budget. To get the effect of a stone decorative fence with less expense, consider using stone for the posts and a less expensive option to span the gaps. You might also use steel immediately surrounding a secured entrance, aluminum on the more visible perimeter, and transition to chin link in areas where you want to restrict access but are less concerned with appearance. If you want a modern geometric look; but still need to keep pets in or varmints out, backing the fence with chicken wire can make an effective yet barely perceptible barrier.

Another option is to dress up your existing fence. This is accomplished in various ways. Use paint to add decorative flair to an older fence, call attention to a particular point, or hide a less desirable feature. Many times you can use the existing posts and simply replace the fencing. This will eliminate a significant amount of labor and time involved in the installation. You can also add various top caps and finials to the posts, an intricate gate, or even planters filled with bountiful blooms. Stained glass windows, mirrors, antique doors, and even fountains lend flair and personality to decorative fences.

Decorating Your Landscape With Lights

Night lighting doesn’t always have to be about safety and security. Even when the sun sets, you can still bring life to your garden with the help of night lights. The flowerbed that you had to re-plant a few months ago because your dog made a playpen out of it, your favourite waterfall, the centrepiece of your whole landscape, with its’ waters musically flowing into the connected pond, and other features your garden has, can continue to show off their beauty at night with good outdoor landscape lighting.

Outdoor lighting back in the day were only used to light up pathways and entrances for safety purposes. Today, not only are lights being used for the same purpose – it has now also become an art and a popular trend in the landscaping industry.

Planning and deciding how you want your lighting to be arranged and organized is the first step in designing your lighting system. There are three main categories:

1. Path Lighting – this uses equipment that focuses light onto paths and walkways. Even if primarily used for security, this kind can still create attractive lighting effects.

2. Spread Lighting – this distributes light among your landscape. More areas will be emphasized, as this kind doesn’t just focus on a single object.

3. Accent Lighting – this focuses light onto a single object or feature but allows for peripheral lighting in surrounding areas.

Here are a few basic techniques one needs to know about landscape lighting:

1. Focal Points – lights establish focal points on various plants and other features in your landscape.

2. Symmetry and Balance – this highlights the structures and forms that have essential beauty.

3. Perspective – you should treat your scenery as if it were a 3D canvas to generate visual interest from all potential viewpoints.

4. Depth – directing the viewer’s visual experience, meaning, visual interest should be added to your whole landscape.

5. Quality and Direction – this is when you “paint” your scenery with various lights to set a desired mood.

Many landscapers offer free lighting design training for those who wish to learn and apply their techniques so homeowners can do it themselves. However, it is also possible to hire landscapers to do the job for you and to also help in designing the best locations to place lights.

Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

If you want to have a beautiful lighted lawn at night, you must install one or two transformers because the electricity running into your home could hold an amount as high as a dangerous 120 volts, depending on how many lights you have. The more, the scarier. Having a transformer can reduce the voltage, for example, from 120 volts to 12 volts only. The problem with this is, in most cases, the further the light is from the transformer, the dimmer. However, the solutions are quite easy. One option is you could upgrade to a better transformer. Another is you could build multiple transformers. It would be advisable to hire an electrician to do and solve your electrical problems for you because they are experts, after all.

Outdoor Decorating With Landscaping – Part 1

No outdoor living space is completely successful until it is integrated with the surrounding landscape. Just as there are principles for designing interior spaces, there are also guidelines for exterior ones. If you are choosing a site for a gazebo or a patio, it is one of the most important landscape design decisions you’ll make. If the structure already exists, you can enhance it by assessing and changing the landscape. For instance, you may want to plan a garden around a gazebo, planting shrubs and flowers to highlight the beauty of the site. Or you may want to treat the gazebo as a secluded retreat. Achieving either goal takes careful planning of the site and surrounding plantings.

Evaluate the site. The landscape design should provide a framework for your outdoor living space. The views, lines, property configuration, and traffic patterns need to work together. Spend some time getting acquainted with your site and noting any special features. What are the site’s assets? Are there beautiful views? Are there natural features, such as trees or streams? Consider the size and shape of your lot, the style of the house itself, as well as your own lifestyle needs and preferences.

Balance the elements. This is the process of arranging various site elements so that they are resolved and balanced. A visually heavy or large object can be balanced by a visually lighter or smaller object on the site if the smaller object is darker in color value, is unusually or irregularly shaped, has a contrasting texture, or is more elaborately detailed. All of these strategies will help to draw attention to the smaller object and thereby visually balance it with the larger object. For example, let’s say you have a large clump of pine trees on one side of your yard. To visually balance the trees you might plant smaller, more colorful ornamental trees on the other side of the yard, or you might use a man-made object such as a gazebo.

Create a cohesive design. Harmony can be achieved by selecting and using elements that share a common trait or characteristic. By using elements that are similar in size, shape, color, material, texture, or detail, you can create a cohesive feeling and relation among the various elements on the site. An example this might be using a shape, such as a square. Imagine having a square concrete patio scored in a square (or diamond) pattern with a square table covered in a checkered tablecloth. The results can be extremely pleasing and harmonious.