Friday, April 2, 2010

Fencing research.

We've decided that it's time to get serious about building a fence.  Our toddlers are at that perfect age when they love to be in the yard with us, and I'm dying for some extended time working on our garden and flowerbeds.  I can't really do that, though, with a steep slope out back and a street out front and two little ones to keep an eye on.  But with a fence... ah!  Outdoor bliss!

It's hard to know how to fence a historic home.  My husband's too busy for massive handyman construction projects, so a uniquely creative artsy handmade fence is rather out of the question.  However, your standard Home Depot privacy or picket fences (or worse, the white plastic ones) won't exactly fit the bill either.  I see them on older homes, and I always think, "hmm.  someone recently did that."  When you're trying to be true to the house's history, that just looks too out of place.

I've had an idea for ages, and no idea whether it was even doable:  I wanted some of the old wire fencing that I've seen in the backyards of older neighborhoods-- loopy wire stuff that was closer together on the bottom (the better to block those pesky garden-eating rabbits) and fairly inobtrusive visually.  Problem was, I'd never seen it for sale, and had no idea what to call it.

After a lot (and I mean a LOT) of searching, I located a very old but ongoing thread on Gardenweb's Heirloom Plants and Gardens forum that felt like the Pearl of Great Price when I stumbled upon it.  Here were other "weird old house people," like me, looking for this antiquated fence!  And it WAS still being manufactured and sold in the USA!  Fabulous.

As a result, I've found:
A name:  Double loop ornamental fencing (or, possibly, rainbow, twisted wire, ornamental loop, arch top, or scallop top).
A current online source for 100 foot rolls of the stuff, should I be unable to order it at our local farm store.  Shipping will be painful.
A recommended support (poles cut from chain link fencing's horizontal support rails) that will mimic the thinner poles used in historic versions of this fence.
Tips on installation.
Pictures and descriptions of other homeowners' projects with this fence.
Examples of shipping costs.

I'm still a little lacking on actual pictures of historic homes with this type of fencing (although this Australian site is very helpful).  This would have been all but impossible without the internet-- and Gardenweb, which has an amazing array of home and garden forums with incredibly helpful people at the ready to help me with my obsessions.  :)

I spotted some fences made with this type of wire in a historic Victorian town not far from here, but didn't have time to grab pictures of the ones I liked best- they were installed w/ rigid top bars between the fenceposts, and painted black.  But here are two simpler installations worth looking at:
Here's a house built high on a steep hill.  It's hard to tell without clicking on the photo to zoom in, but that' s my wire fence up there, strung on metal posts that look like they're embedded into concrete blocks, which have been incorporated into the retaining wall.  In the larger photo below, you can see detail of the gate and the fence.
This one's a plain little fence, set on wooden posts with larger wooden corner posts (4x4?) that look like they're doing most of the work.  The gate was neat at this house, but there was a car parked in the way and I would've have to have gotten out of the car to get a picture.