It is hard to find anything more Americana than picket fences. Here’s a primer to provide a little history and a few insights about choosing the best style for your needs.
Picket fences date back to America’s earliest colonial era. Brought to the New World by European settlers, they were first used to outline domestic borders. Enterprising colonists who were self-made would own their own homes, often surrounding their property with a picket fence. This was a highly sought-after sign of wealth and prosperity. By the late 18th century they became the all- purpose choice for residential fencing. These picket fences began to be painted white, as white paint was cheap and easy to see in daytime or at night. The white picket fence served a crucial function: the children and family dog could easily and safely be contained, while the fence itself was not so tall as to block the sight of the carefully-tended home. The increasing affordability of the white picket fence made it one of the most desirable assets for the growing American middle class, and thus the white picket fence became synonymous with the American Dream.
A picket fence is generally 36 to 48 inches tall with a horizontal top rail and bottom rail attached to fence posts which are installed upright into the ground. The distinguishing characteristic is the top, which is tapered. The origin of the word picket is fairly self-evident—they resemble the pointed stakes historically used by infantry to repel cavalry. They can be used to enclose a yard to keep children and pets safe from traffic or as elegant fencing to complement an arbor.
The many benefits of picket fences include: simple alteration of height and additions, inexpensive replacement of broken or damaged sections, easily painted for a refresh or a change of color, and, not least of all, a cost-effective way to increase curb appeal in front or provide a safe haven for children and pets.
There are myriad ways to dress up a picket fence for a more architectural or ornamental effect. For example, picket tops can be cut into points, semicircles, diamonds or spears. For Victorian homes, narrow pickets about 2″ square and widely spaced offer an elegant look. However, there are no hard and fast rules for choosing a style that best complements your home.
Just a few examples include: dog ear cut, concave, double concave, modified point, Gothic point, single convex, and more.
Speaking of more, we have created more picket fences than we can count—in all sizes and styles. In fact, when you purchase 100 feet or more of picket fencing, you’ll receive a FREE GATE, which we will install with the same high level of quality we are known for. Simply give us a call or email us and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific needs.