In New Zealand we must be the world’s leading proponents of the utility, tanalised pine boundary fence. I have written about this before but clearly in vain. The existing fences have gone forth and multiplied. They are appearing in ever greater numbers. And honestly, they are all equal in terms of the absence of any aesthetic merit.
It is not as if substantial barricades in tanalised timber come cheaply. For just a little more expenditure and effort, it is possible to turn them into something easier on the eye. In the hope of winning over some converts, I keep collecting the occasional example of alternatives. This latest one is from Veddw Garden in Wales so it will not be from tanalised pine, that timber of choice that NZ has made its own. And I concede that it is not constructed from the palings favoured here but from posts which I didn’t think to measure at the time. Staining it dark and using random lengths makes it considerably more interesting visually, while it fits in with its surroundings.
A simple wooden fence at Veddw
It doesn’t take a lot to alter the effect but that attention to detail can make a huge difference in a garden and in the wider environment.
“It is unchristian to hedge from the sight of others the beauties of nature which it has been our good fortune to create or secure.”
Frank J Scott The Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds (1870).
The brutality of the utility wooden fence
I spent the weekend in Mount Eden in Auckland where walking the streets offers a study in hostile fencing. There is a bigger story in fencing, now that I am getting my eye in for it but I couldn’t help but notice how little it takes to turn a large wooden affair into something more pleasing than a utility, gang house-styled barricade. It seems quite remarkable that people who own a million dollar house see nothing wrong with a basic tanalised board construction of zero aesthetic merit. If you feel the need to erect a solid barrier between your home and the riff raff who pass by on the footpath, a little thought can make a big difference.
A little detailing can make a huge difference
Incorporating the vertical supports as part of the fence breaks up the expanse of wall into separate panels. Topping the verticals with a simple finial – or abacus to go to classic terms – adds little to the expense but a lot to the design. A horizontal baseboard is both practical and adds a little finishing detail. Narrow palings generally look classier than wide ones. An unobtrusive colour in charcoal or dark grey tones mutes the impact further. It is attention that detail that counts.
Simple base boards add a finishing touch
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.