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The Fence Post

5 Unique Styles of Fence

November 14, 2018 | by Duncan Page

Wattle Fence        Lace Fence       Worm Fence        Living Snow Fence        Papercrete Fence  


1. Wattle Fence

An Historic Perspective to a Garden Fence

Wattle fences may be one of the oldest types of fencing still in use today. They were used in England long before medieval times. Traditionally the fences are built from straight, slender, flexible suckers or saplings of the willow tree up to 1-1/2" diameter. After the leaves are stripped, the ”withies” are woven between upright wood posts. Willow is an ideal wood because it is pliable and resists splintering. Other species, such as alder, can also be used.

Uses and Benefits

Wattle fences are very strong and long-lasting. Willow posts often take root in the ground creating a living fence, perfect for containing animals and enclosing gardens and orchards. And the density of the fence makes an ideal windbreak.

wattle fence

The rustic, handwoven appearance of a wattle fence adds an attractive defining touch to any yard, garden or landscape. Some possible uses:

  • arches
  • towers
  • trellises
  • plant supports
  • garden accents
  • hurdles or fence panels
  • attractive garden borders to line walkways

Wattle construction is a great way to use trimmings for fence building materials. Instead of burning or destroying branches, use them in a creative way to beautify and add interest to your landscaping. Even though willow is the ideal wood, any type of wood can be used.

2. Lace Fence

Having grown up in a neighborhood where the lawns flowed into one another, when some new folks moved in and put up a stark chain link fence around the perimeter of their property, the neighbors were collectively horrified. Mercifully, they grew ivy on it. 

However, a new type of fencing has been introduced by the Demakersvan design studio in Holland. Called lace fence, it is a combination of chain link fabric and the art of lace making.

lace fence

The design possibilities - from floral themes to contemporary patterns and designs - are infinite. And you can submit your own designs. With this opportunity to customize each job, every lace fence is unique. Chain link fencing, a basic functional fence, can become a decorative and attractive work of art. Imagine coming up with a theme related to the property or space you are defining.

Lace Fence can be woven from both 11 and 12-1/2 gauge wires, either galvanized or vinyl coated. The wire mesh is securely clamped to a tubular frame. There are many different types of locations - both interior and exterior - where Lace Fence is currently in use, including but not limited to:

  • barrier fences in parks and other public areas
  • interior partitions in banks, restaurants, hotels and gyms
  • railing safety mesh on stairways, decks and balconies
  • decorative panels on the facades of commercial buildings
  • safety fences on apartment buildings
  • museum displays

Photograph of Lace Fence at The Design Center at Philadelphia University is used by permission. See this blog article to see more pictures of this unique fencing. 

3. Worm Fence  


A fence, zigzag in plan, made of rails resting across one another at an angle - according to the Random House Dictionary.

This style of fencing is also known as Snake Fence, ZigZag Fence and Battlefield Fence - the latter term due to its presence on many Civil War battlefields (see video below). Worm Fence (also known as Virginia Worm fence) has been used in America since the 1600's. Easy to build, split wood rails are stacked on each other to create the fence. The ends of the rails alternate, creating the openings. For stability of the stacked rails, each section of fence is angled from the previous one, giving the appearance of a worm or snake.

worm fence at Gettysburg

sheep may safely graze

No Post Holes and a Rocky Terrain Bonus

No vertical posts are required to build the fence. This both eliminates the need to dig post holes and makes the fence easy to install - a particular advantage in rocky terrain. Sometimes a pair of crossed posts would be used at the junction point of each section. This would allow the fence to be closer to a straight line. With a plentiful supply of wood and ease of construction, it is easy to understand why worm fence was the most common type of fence used in America by the late 1800's. It is gaining popularity today for use as a rustic fence that will add to the appearance of a piece of property and it is used in many outdoor historical museums.

Here's a quick overview of colonial fence styles:


4. Living Snow Fence 

Strong winter winds can cause dangerous driving conditions. Not only does blowing snow dramatically reduce visibility but also treacherous drifts can accumulate across roadways and other open unprotected areas.

A Safe, Natural Windbreak

Several states have successful programs in place using living snow fence. The Iowa DOT has been developing and improving theirs for over 40 years. Living snow fencing is a natural barrier created by planting a combination of shrubs, trees, and grasses that act as a windbreak. In Iowa, rows are five feet apart and shrubs are set three feet apart within the row. Plantings are arranged so that the gaps in one row are filled by the plants in the next row.  As the speed of the wind is disrupted and decreased, snow settles among and downwind from the plantings. Research shows that drifts will form downwind 10 to 12 times the height of the trees (100 to 120 feet downwind from a 10 tree). A concentrated and closely spaced placement of trees and shrubs results in shorter and deeper drifts. When positioned properly, living snow fences can greatly reduce the amount of plowing needed to keep roads open for travel. Winter travel is safer.

living snow fence  in winterliving snow fence summe

Some Environmental and Aesthetic Advantages of Snow Fences

There are benefits in addition to safety when living snow fencing is used:

  • Highway beautification is enhanced with native species of plants.
  • Environmental stewardship is promoted.
  • Trees, shrubs and grasses are excellent wildlife habitat all year.
  • Living snow fences slow and reduce erosion.
  • When measured during winter months the temperature of the pavement surface in areas protected by living snow fence were higher than the surface temperature in unprotected areas. In areas with severe cold, this greatly increases the effectiveness of chemicals used to prevent icing.
  • It is no longer necessary to install and remove wood or plastic snow fence. 

5. Papercrete Fence

Ever heard of a fence made out of papercrete? What exactly is papercrete?

This video will show you how to make a 4' by 8' section of fencing - real DIY stuff, folks. A recipe follows--

Papercrete Ingredients--

  • 30 pounds of concrete
  • 18 pounds of joint compound
  • 1 pound of boric acid
  • 90 pounds of newspapers
  • Just add water and you're good to go!

But...would you really want a papercrete fence around your house?

 Original content created by Duncan Page, edited by Joe Morrell

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Topics: lace fence, worm fence, living fence, Wire Coating, vinyl coated

Living Fencing

October 26, 2009 | by Duncan Page

living fence--hedge

An Aesthetic Edge

Living fencing can be an alternative to conventional wire, wood, vinyl and masonry fences. As noted in David Beaulieu's excellent article "Living Walls as Privacy Fences", living fencing has certain advantages:

  • lower cost
  • more attractive
  • fruit production
  • reduces traffic noise
  • seasonal foliage variation
  • provides a habitat for birds and small animals
  • sometimes less restricted by zoning regulations
  • can be pruned and sculpted into different shapes

Simplicity, Beauty, and Style

Living fences make excellent privacy screens around your property. Planting a thicket of small trees or shrubs creates an effective barrier. Flowering bushes, deciduous and evergreen shrubs can be planted. The type of plants used will determine the height, width and appearance of the fence. How they are planted will determine the visual and physical tightness of the barrier. If necessary, a conventional fence can also be used to keep pets and children in the yard. A living fence can also be used around smaller areas in the yard such as patios.

Efficient Windbreak

Living snow fences can also be a great alternative to plastic or wood snow fencing. The design will determine downwind snow distribution. A dense multiple row living snow fence will pile snow in a restricted area, reducing the need to plow highways and driveways. To make windbreak for the uniform distribution of snow across a field, a single row of tall deciduous trees can be spaced 15 to 20 feet apart. Snow will be distributed to a distance of 10 to 15 times the height of the trees.

Creating a Hedge

A good hedge doesn't stop the wind but breaks up as it rushes across the land, sparing plants needing protection. A solid fence can sometimes create a pocket of air as it surmounts the top of the fence whereas a hedge distributes the flow of wind. Happily, the hedge creates a habitat for birds and enhances the environment. Be careful in your choice of plants for a hedge. For privacy and a consistent wind block, look for a hedge that doesn't drop its leaves in winter. Some research is required.

Here's a video about a boxwood hedge that may be of interest:


Learn more about living snow fences here

Have you ever considered planting a living fence? Would living snow fencing be a solution that would work for you?


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Topics: fence, snow fence, living fence

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