Two of the most popular styles of decor right now are the rustic and farmhouse styles. It is no surprise why. Both are eclectic styles that allow the creation of a unified look for the home without the artificial feel that more formal styles enforce. Rustic decorating allows you to live comfortably in your home, and to present a cohesive style. I myself have adopted the farmhouse style because, regardless of anyone’s opinion, my green leather sofa is irreplaceable. I’ve yet to find another whose armrests support my feet and ankles in quite the same way, and rustic decor doesn’t force me to change my lifestyle to support my decor.
Both the rustic and farmhouse styles have an emphasis on fuzzing the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living spaces. That means that the trees and the landscape become a factor in your interior design. For me, that led to upgrading my decks and their railings, and just recently the dawning realization–while enjoying my morning coffee outside in my bathrobe–that my fences looked terrible. I needed to give some thought to how rustic style fencing might be able to tie the whole thing together.
Bringing the Rustic Style to the City or Suburb
What most people think of when they think of rustic fencing are old-style split rail fences, the kind that are still used on cattle ranches and farms. These use posts that are essentially just logs with the bark planed off, with two rails made from a log split in half. Split rail fences work great if you’re out in the country and your biggest worries are cows and snowmobiles cutting across the back forty, but they don’t do very much to stop the neighbor’s Yorkie or Goldendoodle from claiming your yard as their own. They aren’t the best fences for dogs that climb, or jump.
The truth is that most of us who adopt the rustic look live in an urban or suburban area. This means that fencing serves a different purpose. Keeping the neighbor’s pets out of the yard is a concern, as is keeping kids from wearing a rut in the grass. And while traditionally, a front yard fence is lower than the fence in the backyard, I live along a busy street and would love to block out some of the noise that comes from traffic. I also think that being forced to put pants on before drinking my morning coffee is a perversion of the natural order. Rustic style fencing that also works as privacy fencing fits in nicely with the way I want to live.
Practical Options for Rustic Style Fencing
Rustic style is all about sturdiness, texture, and openness to the outdoor living spaces of your home. When you live in a more developed area, that last one can be challenging. If you’re like me, the majestic view beyond your front yard is of the neighbor’s hairy belly as he tries to coax a late model car into working every day. In the suburban or urban environment, the rustic style really means creating the best view from your property that you can. There are a couple of fence styles that can do that well, while providing a rustic casual flair.
- Privacy Fence: This is a standard fence that’s available from most hardware stores. Traditionally built of wood, they rise anywhere from 6 to 8 feet above the ground, and their primary purpose is to block the view in and out of the yard. They also do a good job keeping pets in and out of yards. The high barrier and lack of handholds also offer some security. Their biggest disadvantage in aesthetics is that an uninterrupted expanse of wood or vinyl can be boring to look at, and it won’t add much to your rustic-look exterior.
- Lattice Fences: This style offers a bit more visual interest than a plain wood privacy fence does. Lattice-style fences also offer significantly more in the way of a view out of the yard. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage to the homeowner as they can never be more than semi-private. While you can sometimes find these fences in vinyl, they are chiefly available in wood, which, in my opinion, is also the material to choose if you’re going for a rustic look.
- Shadowbox Fences: These are an interesting alternative to the traditional fence shape. The pickets alternate between the interior and exterior of the rail, creating a look with more visual interest than a basic privacy fence. Aesthetically, it is a unique look that I think suits rustic decor very well. These fences are available in a variety of materials, but are most commonly wood.
- Combination Fences: These combine the forms listed above in ways to give more flexibility to the end user. Examples include wood and vinyl privacy fences with lattices on the top to offer some visibility or wooden fence posts with corrugated steel sheets between the posts. Another example is a lower maintenance iron and wood fence which uses steel rails and pickets with wooden or composite infill between the pickets to increase privacy and change the look.
Each of these fence styles would afford me privacy and blend in with the rustic look. Although they may not create the most expansive view, they do remove my neighbor’s collection of late model cars from the scenery. I’d prefer to look at my front yard planted with flowers rather than something I’m not sure is modern art, found art, or just a hairy man sifting through a pile of discarded car parts.
Choosing Rustic Fencing for Durability
Each of these rustic-style privacy fences is available in different materials, or a combination of materials. My current backyard privacy fence is made of wood, and it has not held up well. There are gaps where some of the slats are missing, and mold and mildew discoloration on the fence is a problem. The rustic style may be accepting of distressed wood, but that doesn’t mean you want spongy-when-poked-with-a-stick wood. More importantly, when a big storm came through, it knocked down most of the wooden privacy fences in my area because the posts had rotted at their bases. While vinyl fences may resist this rot and mold they aren’t that durable, nor do they typically mesh well with the rustic style, which is all about natural materials.
For these reasons, I’d prefer to go with steel posts and rails, which won’t succumb to rot–with something that offers privacy in between. As it turns out, finding a fence that combines the durability of steel with the aesthetic and texture of wood is somewhat difficult. Many combination fences have wooden posts with metal sheeting in between, which leaves the entire fence open to falling down when the posts rot.
There is fence system out there that meets my requirements, though. Fortress Fence offers the Estate Fence, which provides the privacy of a wooden fence with the durability of steel posts, pickets, and rails. It also keeps the elegant profile of the classic Victorian era steel fence which matches my deck’s new steel railings. For the privacy slats between the steel pickets, I can use wood, composite boards, or even reclaimed wood for a more industrial rustic look. It’s an unusual style of fencing which is versatile and clever, and just right for an urban or suburban home looking for an easy touch of the rustic style. Fortress also carries other high-quality, durable building products that look great with rustic homes, such as powder coated hardware and distressed-look composite decking. All of these products can help make spending time outdoors more fun–which is what rustic living is all about.