A fence is not always for keeping something in or out -- often it is a pretty backdrop or focal point in the landscape instead. As such, height, strength and completeness are not as critical as for a utilitarian fence, and expense may be kept to a minimum. Although mesh fences are probably the cheapest option, others are more attractive. Keep the architecture of your home in mind when planning the style of your fence so that it blends harmoniously. But for a truly appealing fence, allow some outside-the-box thinking.
Perhaps the prettiest and most easily adapted fence is the one you plant. A low hedge may take a few years to mature, but ultimately it will reward you with a dense green backdrop that looks attractive while serving to delineate specific areas of your landscape. Evergreen shrubs provide year-round interest as well as nesting space for songbirds. Deciduous hedges often have attractive winter colour. Both may also provide flowers or berries in season, or function as a leafy wall to show off a row of pretty annuals planted in front.
Stone and Timber Fence
For a quick and easily repositioned border, make a stone-and-timber fence. Place two stones an appropriate distance from one another and set a landscape timber or sleeper on top, with one end on each stone. Use large stones and ensure that the surface beneath is level so that the timber does not wobble and fall. You can place several timbers this way in whatever configuration you choose, with no need for posts or permanent landscape changes. Use the wide timber surface as a convenient place to set potted plants or even as an impromptu garden seat.
If you have a woodlot or access to free timber, you can make another version of the stone-and-timber fence, only with a rustic flair. The old-fashioned rail fence uses the same technique outlined previously, but instead of squared timbers, you set whole or quartered posts on the stones. Position each fence section at right angles to the next and allow the fence to meander zigzag fashion around the property. Plant tall grasses and native wildflowers in the angles thus formed for a lovely country effect.
If a lightweight fence is more in keeping with your architectural style, consider bamboo. Dig holes and set large sections of bamboo in concrete to act as posts, then screw or tie on cross members top and bottom. Add smaller bamboo canes vertically between those -- again tied or screwed in place -- to finish. You can vary the look easily by tying canes diagonally or in an open diamond pattern trellis-style for maximum airflow, or tightly side-by-side for privacy.
Post and Trellis Fence
A variation on the bamboo fence, the post-and-trellis fence uses the same method for setting upright posts and affixing cross members. Use naturally weather-resistant cedar or redwood posts for durability, and instead of bamboo canes, fasten sections of manufactured wooden trellis between the framing members. With the addition of a climbing vine, you can create an airy and inviting screen for your patio. This also works well to support peas or other vining vegetables in the garden.