Designing a Fence and Gate
by Allan Staines
Attitudes to fencing, its style and height are changing especially with the swing to high density living in modern Australian cities. The “no fence” property is certainly beneficial to neighbourhood looks, but it's an open invitation to stray animals and trespassers. You need to look at both sides of the issue.
On the Positive – higher property fences provide privacy and safety for animals and children. They can add to the appearance of a property, and if installed elegantly, will increase its value.
They are often also a good sound barrier in busy neighbourhoods, and can buffer you in high wind periods.
On the other hand – Friendly neighbours keeping a check on your property is a great security measure if available, but they must be able to see above or through the fence.
High fences wrongly positioned impede cool breezes in Summer, whilst fences built close to the house apertures can reflect glare into rooms if painted in light colours.
A fence reduced in height to between 1200mm and 1350mm will form a good barrier and enable neighbours to communicate if desired. An open weave or wire fence would do the same plus permit a summer breeze to flow through.
You could construct fences to the rear and side boundaries, then return level with the front of the house. This is ideal if you wish to display a beautiful home and garden.
If you can, consider clay bricks, textured concrete blocks, stone or timber battens. Pickets would suit a period house or diagonal boards for a modern approach. Another suggestion is to construct a very low brick base from 300mm to 600mm high with imposing brick piers and apply infill panels of either lattice, battens or textured panelling. These look great.
Where road noise is a problem, a fence height from 1800mm to 2400mm definitely helps. Try using either 200mm thick core-filled concrete blocks or 200mm to 300mm thick AAC (Aerated Autoclaved Concrete). Return the fence along the side boundaries for a few metres for maximum effect. Surfaces can then be coated and/or textured.
Curves on a gate will soften adjacent hard and imposing fence lines or features. The ability to see through a high gate will also help to soften the impression.
Try putting pencil to paper and begin to explore some of your own ideas. You may surprise yourself and come up with a design that will provide you with immense pleasure every time you walk through it.