A fence is the most basic structural landscape element, it is simply a barrier. Beyond its basic function it can also delineate an area as “mine” and tie us to a physical space. The fence, as a technology, is intimately tied to modern civilization. (For a compelling history of the fence and its role in the rise of modern civilization please see “The Culture of the Fence: Artifacts and Meanings” by Christina Kotchemidova.)
By defining a space, we can own it, and with ownership comes a myriad of emotional attachments and cultural expectations that motivate us to care for that space. Ownership is the back bone of the American dream. By encouraging home ownership our society is hoping that we, as citizens, have a stake in the space we call America. By owning our little piece of America it is the collective hope that we will care for and improve our space. That we will feel compelled to protect our space and that of our neighbors.
These symbolic and physical barriers can actually serve to tie our society together. As the proverb says “good fences make good neighbors.” But beyond their symbolic nature, fences are objects and they can be beautiful, well crafted objects that make our homes and neighborhoods more appealing places to live.
And with that, I welcome you to my first post on theRustyHinge where you can join me in the search for excellent examples of Structural Landscape Elements (SLE) in the Pacific Northwest. Hopefully this blog helps inspire you to improve your space.
Picking on pickets
A white picket fence is the icon of the American dream. Those three words instantly transport your mind to the front yard of a quaint house, where a picket fence frames in a lush, green lawn on which 2.5 kids are probably running around with their golden retriever.
No other SLE is so ingrained in the American psyche. Behind its pointed pickets you find America’s hopes and expectations. So, for the inaugural post on theRustyHinge I bring you an excellent example of an American classic:
The posts are mounted on galvanized pipe set in concrete keeping them out of the dirt. Not only does this mean these posts should have a much longer life, it also means that less material is needed making the purchase of high quality cedar posts a little easier on the wallet.
In contrast to the above example, a picket fence can fall a little short of the dream.Lacking defined bays, the posts and rails are pushed to the background and visually interfere with the pickets. Notice where the picket’s spacing causes it to land randomly on the posts.
A little extra time spent with the layout can make a big difference when it comes to fence design. Something we’ll explore more next week if you care to join me.