Fences play a significant part in our lives – they help protect our loved ones and our property; they help present our persona to the world; they define boundaries; they help keep out intruders and they help protect public property and the safety of its users. Fences are widely used as the edging to frame a garden, to highlight your landscape design or as the focal point of a property frontage.
TIP: Check first on setback requirements from footpaths and property lines and find out from the local Council if your fence project will require a development application.
The cost of fences varies enormously depending on the owner’s budget. Likewise, the labour costs involved in its erection or renovation varies accordingly.
They can be made from any number of materials such as timber, plants, metal, brick, concrete, earth and glass. Looking around we see: brick, timber pickets, colorbond, post and rail or lap and cap; wire, rendered and washed concrete blocks; sleepers, mud brick, gabions, hedges, bamboo, glass, corrugated and wrought iron being used in a myriad number of ways as a fence.
Metal fences are mostly recyclable and since they require very little maintenance, they have a long life, which reduces waste going to landfill.
PVC vinyl fencing is a great solution for many domestic applications. It’s made from weatherproof vinyl material that will never need painting or refinishing. It won’t rot or corrode in damp climates and is great for applications along the coast where sea breezes carry salt that negatively affects most other building materials. The PVC used for fencing is chemically inert, which means it won’t leech dangerous chemicals into the soil.
Fences can also be made of a combination of these materials depending on the owner’s intent and budget. They may also be used to screen off unsightly areas within a property or prohibit access to a swimming pool by young children. Privacy screens are a form of fencing comprised of aluminium or timber horizontal slats fixed at specified spaces to create a privacy barrier on a project that still allows sunlight to pervade. Aluminium screens are powder-coated in any colour.
Around Australia, there are different laws and specifications required for swimming pool fences. Usually they are made from panes of toughened glass (AS1288) or tubular fencing, which is typically for safety or aesthetically stylish uses, comprised of square, rectangular or round hollow steel or aluminium tube. The standard height is 1200mm high, however custom fencing can be made to any height and black powder-coat finish is available off-the-shelf with other colours available. Posts are available to be made for concrete footings or with a baseplate for mounting to concrete surfaces.
Boundary fences are often used as pool barriers. The law is very strict on their height, the strength and the condition of these fences, and whether young children could climb down them using handholds and footholds from their neighbour’s yard.
Fences vary in height and length. Australia has the Dingo Fence, which is the world’s longest fence at 5531km. The dingo barrier fence stretches from eastern Queensland all the way to the South Australian coastline.
The fence was erected in the late 1800s and early 1900s to protect cropland from rabbits and can been seen from space!
The design of a fence is limited only by our imagination. If owners simply want to define their property boundaries, the fence may be low or high, but the material used may allow one to easily see into the property.
Half and half fences are common – stronger and heavier material for the bottom half, like stone or rendered brick/block work; and lighter and more decorative material like aluminium for the top. A precise laser cut steel panel fence personifies innovation. You can never go wrong with a black steel and white concrete combo. Elegant, minimalist and stunning!
A bamboo framed fence will look good in any setting. It provides ample coverage and is easy to build – organic and dramatic.
Gabion walled fences have been in existence since medieval times. By carefully stacking the stones we can force them into precise lines and shapes. Consider using coloured stones with interesting patterns.
Gabion walled fences have been in existence since medieval times. Consider using coloured stones with interesting patterns. How about combining a gabion wall with a timber fence? You get a very modern, tough fence.
Creating a vertical garden will dramatically transform and upgrade a brick fence.
Using colourful succulents will easily do the job and they need little maintenance.
Adding planters can instantly liven up a fence. We could plant easy-to-grow and low-maintenance shrubs to the public side of the fence and a herb garden on the inside – fun, colourful and environmentally friendly.
Timber pallets is an easy project. Using several wood pallets, stand them on their side and secure the stability or just pile them up. You don’t even have to take them apart. Then create pockets and load them up with plants. You’ve got yourself a garden and a fence.
TIP: Timber may require occasional staining or sealing and can warp and rot over time.
Using timber again, the basket weave pattern is fascinating and distinctive.
Stacked sandstone blocks of 1 tonne create a very impressive and secure boundary fence easily done with a front-end loader and the crew.
Instantly upgrade old and boring iron fences by simply adding stained wood boards.
If your clients love their picket fence and can’t imagine replacing it, just swap the traditional whites for a stunning colour.
Finely etched metal screen panels add a healthy dose of delicate charm to a tough-looking fence. This is a great upgrade option for old steel bar fences. Using wood or metal slats, a horizontally stacked installation is tough and contemporary.
It effectively secures the space without blocking any view. Solid steel plates of random width add a touch of sophistication.
Arbours are pretty additions to fences and can support and hold fragrant flowering climbers to top off the fence.
On the other hand, fences may incorporate security features. One of the oldest and most reliable forms of security fencing is the chainwire fence. This fence type is used on numerous commercial and government sites across our nation as the most economical fence and is between 1800mm and 2300mm high. Chainwire comes in an array of configurations, but the most common three are temporary, permanent and permanent with barb-wire. Chainwire is available in galvanized only or galvanized with black or green coatings to cater for a large range of requirements.
General public safety is helped by fences. Pedestrian safety fencing is a type of specialised fencing designed by the RTA to improve safety on NSW roads. It prohibits pedestrians from crossing a road at a midpoint, and instead forces them to cross at traffic lights safely at the designated area.
Temporary fencing is big business in Australia. All construction sites must use it.
Timber hoardings are typically used around construction sites in established residential areas where sensitive receivers may be disturbed by the noise and/or dust generated on site. Hoardings reduce noise and dust, can be painted in project colours and provide a surface for advertising to help subsidise costs.
The American poet Robert Frost once said: “Good fences make good neighbours.”