Cor-Ten steel, rock gabion and more help these garden fences keep an edge
Move over, white picket. Create a head-turning focal point or complement the architecture of a contemporary home with a garden fence made with an of-the-moment material. From brightly colored acrylic and luminous glass fences to chunky rock gabion walls, there’s a building material to suit every landscape style and desired level of privacy.
Scot Eckley, Inc., original photo on Houzz
1. Cement board. Cement board — made from cement and reinforcement fibers — is a versatile material for covering outdoor walls or creating screens. It can be painted to complement the colors of an outdoor space. “We select [cement board] with the smoothest front and back and crispest edges,” says designer Scot Eckley. “Once cut to size, we prime and then paint them.” Here, mounted panels painted bright orange set a fiery backdrop for a gas fireplace at left, while chartreuse panels define a lounge area to the right.
2. Concrete. Raw concrete walls add a distinctly industrial feel to landscapes. Balance the cool look and feel of concrete with warm, inviting tones from wood decking, terra-cotta pots and soft-textured foliage. Conversely, change the tone of raw concrete by adding integral color at the time of wall construction.
The Garden Route Company, original photo on Houzz
3. Cor-Ten steel. Developing a natural rust patina over time, Cor-Ten steel is a great choice for a more modern, rustic look. Steel can be purchased in sheets and used as either an opaque privacy fence or a stand-alone backdrop wall.
4. Corrugated metal. Tough and inexpensive, this hardworking material can be used to make a long-lasting garden fence. The wavy pattern of corrugated metal both increases its rigidity and adds an interesting texture to gardens, while the zinc coating provides a neutral backdrop for flower beds or sculpture.
5. Glass panels. Preserve privacy but allow light to pass through with a fence made of luminous glass panels. For this entryway fence outside a home in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks neighborhood, the designer created a custom fence made of steel and frosted glass. The glass panels sit sandwiched between 1-by-1-inch steel frames, further secured by an outer 2-by-4-inch steel frame.
[email protected], original photo on Houzz
6. Metal slats. In this garden in southern Germany, a contemporary fence made of vertical metal slats forms a barrier that is as visually interesting as a modern art piece.
The fence changes from almost opaque to translucent based on the viewer’s vantage point. The curved blades of golden ornamental grasses extending through the fence enhance the optical illusion.
[email protected], original photo on Houzz
7. Rebar. This rebar fence gives the suggestion of a boundary without obstructing views. The designer created the fence using sturdy 1-inch-diameter rebar (sold as #8 rebar) spaced 8 inches apart. Hidden beneath the soil, the rebar poles are welded to a steel bar and set into a concrete base for a sturdy foundation.
repp + mclain design and construction, original photo on Houzz
8. Rock gabion wall. This front yard in rural Bedfordshire, England, relies on the rich textures of weathered wood siding and a rock gabion wall for contemporary interest. Gabion walls are made of metal cages filled with rock, concrete, wood or other materials and can be useful as privacy screens, wind blocks and retaining walls.
Platform 5 Architects, original photo on Houzz
9. Wood slats. Fences made of narrowly spaced wood strips provide light screening while offering a peek to the other side. For a contemporary look, set the slats horizontally between three-eighths of a inch to 1 inch apart (depending on desired privacy). Anchor with fence posts at the back to keep the front side of the fence clean with uninterrupted horizontal lines.
Concrete is one the best materials for crafting a pool deck—but it doesn’t have to be boring
Concrete is a versatile material that can be colored, polished, stained, even stamped with patterns. It can be seeded with colorful rocks or glass and polished to appear as terrazzo. These techniques can even be combined to create a one-of-a-kind pool deck.
Colored concrete is created either by integral color or topical colors. Integral color is mixed throughout the slab and is preferred for use as a base color on high traffic areas because if the top is ever chipped, the color still shows through. Topical coloring is done with colored hardeners, shake-on colors, acid staining, acetone dyes, and water based dyes.
Colored hardeners are powders that are spread onto freshly placed concrete and then troweled onto the top. Shake-on colors or colored form releases are often used with stamped patterns to add a subtle color variation to mimic natural stone or other materials.
Acid stains are unpredictable because they work by chemically reacting with the cured and hardened concrete. Because the reaction occurs in different concentrations, acid stained concrete tends to vary in intensity. Many people prefer this look because it is totally random, appearing more natural than one that is dyed. Acid stained surfaces must be neutralized and rinsed following the coloring process, so existing buildings, plants, and lawns must be protected during the procedure.
Acetone dyes are usually applied to highly polished floors. The flammability and volatility of acetone prevents it from being used indoors or in certain states (California, for example). Water-based dyes are also applied to polished floors. Their finish is usually translucent and gemlike. Colors can range from natural hues to bright reds and blues.
Stamped and Patterned Concrete
Concrete can be stamped with impressions so that it resembles wood, stone, bricks, or cobbles. The available patterns range from ashlar tile patterns, running bond pavers, wooden slats to a random stone texture. The patterns’ sizes also vary to fit the scope and scale of the space.
The base color can be integral or a troweled-in hardener. Various secondary colors can be shaken or sprinkled to add highlights before the stamps are applied. The coloring additives result in a dense and strong composition. This density makes staining of colored concrete difficult. Acid stains are the most effective, but only after 30 to 60 days.
Mechanically Finished Concrete
Both plain and colored concrete can be mechanically treated after the curing. Patterns can be cut and elements sandblasted, etched, ground, or polished. Highly buffed concrete can be extremely slippery when wet and should be treated with an anti-slip solution during or after installation. Sandblasted or etched concrete, however, has a gritty texture and is a safe choice around pools. Concrete develops a matte finish from sandblasting or acid etching.
Exposed aggregates are common around commercial pools. The exposed rocks have a rough texture, reducing the temptation to run on the pool deck. In a residential pool deck, however, the sharp rocks underfoot are undesirable. Much like the exposed aggregate pool finishes used under water, these surfaces can be lightly polished, which “tips” the stones, removing the sharp edges that cause discomfort—providing beauty, slip resistance, and ease of use. By mixing colored rocks or tumbled beach glass with an integrally colored concrete deck, a unique and personalized motif can be created.