Fencing products are now seen as an integral part of a garden’s overall landscape, and an important aesthetic choice. Antony Reed of Birkdale looks at the latest fencing trends, and explores design choices that can garner impressive visual results
In the past, fences were only ever used to divide boundaries, aid security and provide greater privacy. However, increasingly fencing is being used as a way to bring structure to a garden and add a sense of texture. A rising trend in the design of outdoor spaces is the combination of both traditional and modern materials within a single space. With a range of options available, even the choice of fence posts can be a stylish way to add an interesting dynamic to an outdoor environment, especially when complementary materials are selected. Combining traditional wooden fencing with the more modern skeletal aesthetics of steel, for example, can create a fence with the best of both worlds.
Similarly, it is also increasingly popular to mix reclaimed, repurposed or recyclable materials in exterior spaces. Sustainable designs are rising in popularity and as such, consumers are becoming more and more inclined to choose recycled or recyclable materials over virgin products. While wood is often favoured in these circumstances as a product that can easily be repurposed, the use of metals like steel or aluminium are also ideal materials for this design approach, as they can be recycled at the end of their usable life span.
If a mix of materials is not the desired aesthetic, there is now a range of powder-coated steel fencing products on the market, which allow for the incorporation of colour trends to an outdoor space. Currently one of the most popular exterior design trends is anthracite grey which provides a sleek alternative to black and lighter greys and also complements concrete, metal and wood finishes. With anthracite windows, doors, paints, guttering and steel fence posts all readily available on the market, it is now possible to coordinate all exterior accessories within a sophisticated colour scheme.
If a more unusual ‘statement’ colour scheme is desired, it is also possible to create a striking fencing design using two-tone fencing panels or by opting to use only gravel boards as panelling, in alternating or bold colours. As with fence posts, gravel board options have always been limited, designed to serve a purpose but lacking aesthetic appeal. By opting for composite gravel boards over concrete however, a wider range of attractive colours and finishes are available. Opting for two-tone designs using complementary coloured gravel boards can generate a subtle but stylish effect; but darker shades should always be lower in the eye line to help garden features like floral arrangements take prominence in the forefront.
Fundamentally, fencing can still be used to ‘compartmentalise’ a garden, creating new areas that can be given dedicated uses, for example the traditional fruit and vegetable patch. Similarly, fencing can also be used more creatively to form ‘chill out’ areas, or to create dedicated zones for hosting or barbecuing. Introducing low-rise fencing can allow spaces to be sectioned off without affecting visibility, or making a space feel claustrophobic or smaller than it is.
Setting aesthetics and design aside, when it comes to selecting a fence, it is equally important to get the material right to ensure it will last the test of time. While wooden fences are aesthetically pleasing, versatile and available in a range of styles, wooden fence posts are particularly susceptible to rotting and warping. Steel is a far more durable fence post option; products are tested to withstand high wind speeds and they are designed to not degrade over time. Steel fence post solutions can also provide greater scope for colour scheme matching, as they are available in a range of long-lasting colour finishes that can be coordinated with post caps, gravel boards and capping rails in the same finish to complete the fencing system.
With a growing trend for liveable outdoor spaces, a new emphasis is being placed on interesting garden design in the development of new builds. As such it is important that architects understand that there are now new ways to easily incorporate colours and materials into exciting on-trend designs. Furthermore, it is possible to do so through the use of long-lasting and reliable fencing products, which will not degrade over time, ensuring that the desired aesthetic of the outside space is one that will last.
Antony Reed is DuraPost product manager at Birkdale