Ornamental fences can add plenty of life and character to an otherwise boring garden, but if you’re unlucky enough to have a sloped yard knowing how to place the ornamental fence can be a design challenge (see our discussion relating to chain link installs on uneven ground here). Ultimately, you’ll have to compromise between utility, appearance and structure, and the best way to determine which of these is more important for you will depend on what you want the fence to do, whether it is for decoration, security or privacy.
Styles of Ornamental Fencing
There are many different styles of ornamental fencing, each with its own benefits and drawbacks — and each suitable for a different type of use:
- Wood fences tend to be some of the most common ornamental fences, such as the classic picket fence where vertical pickets are attached to a horizontal rail in a manner that allows gaps between the pickets. Another common wood fence is the shadowbox style — these are an excellent choice if privacy is a primary concern.
- Vinyl fences tend to mock wood fence styles, but have the benefit of being virtually maintenance-free.
- Aluminum fences emulate traditional iron fence styles, but are lighter, more affordable and easier to maintain.
If you want the ornamental fence simply for decoration or to define the boundary of your yard, and privacy isn’t a concern, an open style, like pickets, in wood or vinyl, might be a good choice. Because these fences come in panels, installation will need to accommodate the slope of your yard. It’s important to decide, during the planning stage, if you like the look of paneled fences that are stair stepped, especially if you have a steep grade on your property.
Even with a wood fence that isn’t paneled, it’s important to design your fence layout beforehand, so that you can get even spacing and ensure that you get the look that you desire.
Trellises and Screens
If you have a sloped yard, one of the best uses for an ornamental fence is simply as another piece of decoration in the garden in the form of a freestanding trellis or screen. Since factors such as construction quality and security are not problems in this instance, you can get any style of ornamental fence to work. If the slope is small, you can probably get away with installing the fence parallel to the ground, but if the slope is significantly sharper you may want to consider installing a fence with the vertical lines being differing heights while still being plumb with each other.
If the primary goal of your fence is to keep people and wildlife out, any gap in the bottom of the fence can be a very big problem. Since the gap of one end of a stair-stepped fence panel will be larger than the other end, due to the incline of the slope, you should most likely consider a rackable fence panel that follows the slope of the ground. These fences ensure that the gap between the fence and the ground is consistent and minimal. Rackable panels that adjust to the slope of the ground, are available in ornamental fence styles with an open design, with small spaces between the vertical lines and panels.
There are plenty of ornamental designs that can give you privacy, such as shadowbox fences which stagger pickets to block the view from the garden. Lattice fences can be covered with climbing vines to provide privacy but present challenges in a sloped yard. The best option to ensure privacy may be to have custom-built panels that conform strictly to the slope.
It’s important to consider all of your options, before you make your purchase. Reach out to us today, so we can help you plan your next fence project.