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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Picket Fences

White picket fences are downright iconic. When you see a white picket fence, you get a cozy, homey feeling. Picket fencing offers a lot of curb appeal, especially when matched with landscaping. Though such a fence creates little in the way of privacy, it can be used to delineate spaces and to keep kids or pets in the yard.

History of the Picket Fence

The picket fence dates back to colonial times when family homes had dooryard gardens. These gardens featured household necessities such as vegetable gardens and medicinal herbs. Naturally, families needed a fence to keep livestock and other animals out and children in.

Picket fences started out simple. White was the traditional color because colonists would whitewash the fences with a mixture of lime and water to preserve the wood. Homesteaders started using peaked pickets to keep chickens from roosting on them. Eventually, picket fences became more elaborate. Some homeowners painted their fences natural colors to blend with the background.

Materials for Picket Fences

The classic material for picket fencing is wood. Indeed, the pickets often come prefabricated, so you only have to choose the style. However, wood does take some maintenance, so it's possible to ask for picket fencing made of hardwoods such as cedar or redwood, which are more resistant to rot. Likewise, you could choose pressure-treated wood for the same reason.

If you want a picket fence but don't want the maintenance that comes with wood, consider vinyl fencing. Typically, these fencing panels only come in traditional white, though some manufacturers are coming out with natural colors. Maintaining vinyl fences requires a simple pressure wash once a year.

Styles of Picket Fences

The standard style of picket fence consists of posts strung together with rails. The pickets are either rounded or pointed. A more elaborate style is the Windsor point, which features a "bead" just under the point. Victorian pickets are even more elaborate, mimicking stairway balusters. It's also possible to change the style of the post caps.

Another way to customize picket fencing is with color. Just as colonials eventually painted the pickets to blend into the landscape, you could choose naturalistic green or brown. In that vein, it's possible to have the wood stained to show off its natural graining.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, you could paint the fencing a bold color such as purple or blue. Indeed, Better Homes and Gardens describes a fence for a children's yard made of pointed pickets and painted to resemble crayons.

If you choose vinyl fencing, you might not have quite so many color options. However, you can customize your overall fence with your choice in gate. You could opt for a simple style, or you could add an arbor. You can also affix garden art to your fence or gate for a more whimsical appeal.

Adding a Picket Fence to Your Home

Because of all the style options, a picket fence can complement any type of house. The main use for such a fence is still to distinguish between public and private space in the front yard — and to keep children and pets in said yard. However, some homeowners use picket fencing in the backyard to delineate a garden space.

Indeed, any style of picket complements landscaping. It's not a good idea to train plants to grow directly onto wooden fencing because they trap moisture, thus promoting rot. A better plan is to create a space in front of the picket fence for a planting bed.

If you're choosing vinyl fencing, it's fine to train light plants to climb the fence — just watch for any signs of damage to the fence. Likewise, choose a vinyl arbor if you want to create a romantic entryway with trailing plants for your interior garden.

Add curb appeal to your home with a classic — or updated — picket fence. Call Quality Fence Company to have a beautiful picket fence installed in your yard.