Consider all of your fencing options

Fences have evolved from their original use of keeping animals in or out. They still define the property line, but they are no longer just utilitarian. Fences can and should be decorative, enhancing the garden and ultimately the house.

Fences have evolved from their original use of keeping animals in or out. They still define the property line, but they are no longer just utilitarian. Fences can and should be decorative, enhancing the garden and ultimately the house.

Fencing costs varies depending on what material is used: chain link, vinyl, wood or a combination – each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Once the metal poles are cemented into place and the mesh stretched; a good chain link fence will last for years with little if any maintenance. The fence will keep small animals in the correct area but it is not decorative and affords very little privacy.

New paints and painting techniques have made aluminum fencing practical, decorative and affordable. Posts are cemented into place and prefabricated panels are then added. Aluminum fences are virtually maintenance free.

For those that want a unique designs or one to fit exact dimensions, there are companies in central Alberta that make custom fences and or gates.

This style of fence is also very open, offering little privacy.

A good vinyl fence will also last for a number of years with little if any maintenance.

The initial cost of this fence is more than wood, but it will never need to be painted or stained.

Vinyl fences come in a large variety of different sizes and styles: enough to enable most homeowners to find one to suit their taste and enhance their house.

The colour range has increased, but it is still very limited: white, tan, wood grain and a light grey. Dark colours are not available as they break down in bright sunlight.

Vinyl fences will accumulate dirt and dust which means that it will need to be cleaned at least once a year. Like vinyl siding, this fence will give off toxic fumes when burnt. The privacy factor of a vinyl fences is similar to wooden ones; it depends on the style and dimensions.

Wood fences are still the most common fence seen in housing developments. They are relatively simple to install, and can be painted any colour.

Wooden fences can be purchased as panels or as boards to be cut and put together. The variety and design of a wooden fence is limited to the skill of the people putting the project together.

Maintenance and longevity depends on the type of materials that are used in the project; cedar will outlast a spruce.

Both will last longer if they are painted or stained at regular intervals. Treated wood weathers better than untreated material.

Bamboo fences are relatively new on the market.

At present time they are being sold as roll out panels that can be attached to regular poles.

As there are many styles and grades on the market, check with the dealer about warranty and maintenance.

Bamboo panels can also be attached to metal poles to add privacy to a chain link fence.

Another newer design is the combination of wood posts and frame with aluminum panels.

A decorative scene is cut into the aluminum panels making them unique and attractive. It is possible to buy the panels from hardware stores or from individual artisans. The weight of the metal, quality of paint and design will vary.

Some of these creations can be viewed at www.littlemonkeymetal.com

As a fence is a huge investment take time to consider all the options before making a purchase.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator that lives near rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com