Monday, May 2, 2011

Integrating fence into deck or patio

Particularly in urban environments, decks that are bordered by a fence, or decks that integrate the fence component into the design are common.  There are a variety of advantages to coordinating fence enclosures with your deck that contribute to that appeal. 
A border that flows easily from one backyard structure to another provides an aesthetic advantage, which makes a standalone structure less intrusive. Landscaping that further amalgamates various elements of your back yard provides a smooth transition from the natural environment to the man-made modules.
Continuing the construction design of a deck with a fence constructed of similar materials provides cost and construction savings, as well. However, disparate materials and accents can provide a focal point for specific features that you wish to highlight.
When designing the layout, materials and visual impact of your fence and deck combination, you should view the package as an extension of your inside living space since, indeed, you are expanding your home by adding this seasonal outdoor living feature.  Consider, carefully, how you have utilized your outdoor space in the past, what your social entertainment needs for the space may be, and how you would like to use this space to greatest benefit.  Rather than attempting to emulate a design that you saw in a magazine or at an outdoor living show, adapt your plan to meet your individual wants, needs and preferences. Having a large deck with a host of accent pieces, fancy accessories and so on may look great in the showroom or in a magazine, but may not meet your personal needs.
By integrating the fence into your deck design, you will be able to isolate this outdoor living space more effectively, and develop features that blend well. For those of us that prefer to hold larger social gatherings in our back yards, consider a more Spartan design, with fewer adornments.  The open, Spartan feel will allow for greater freedom of movement by guests.  In that instance, a simply designed fence, with clean lines, will suit your needs.  But if you prefer more intimate gatherings, consider building alcoves or seating elements into the perimeter enclosure, turning the fence into seating and areas more amenable to one-on-one conversations.  If you prefer to use your backyard as a place of privacy and contemplation, consider deck swings and softer bench designs that blend into your fence and deck, and allow for the two of you to contemplate your surroundings peacefully.
Practical considerations are important in planning the layout of your fence and deck combination, as well.  For decks that are elevated 24 or more inches above ground, building codes in your region may well require a fence that meets minimum standards.  On a ground-level deck, a fence may act as an impediment rather than an attraction.  If children or pets are involved, you may need to provide a fence that offers security and a safe enclosure.
The design and integration of a fence into your deck and patio should not be a casual consideration, but undertaken only after considering the use to which the area will be put, and your specific needs or requirements.