Fences and Gates
Fences are used to separate and protect outside spaces either from neighboring properties or to divide the existing lot into distinct areas. Fences can be made from almost any material but the most common is to use cedar planks and preservative treated posts to create a solid board wall. Gates are hinged doorway openings in the fence to allow passage.
There are many kinds of fences iincluding solid fences, picket fences, chain link fences, and wrought iron fences. Wood posts have a life of about 10-12 years and can be replaced in order to extend the life of the main fence.
- 1x per year: Inspect for broken or loose fence posts and fence boards, and make repairs as needed.
- 1x per year: Check gates for operation and make repairs as needed.
Walls – Retaining and OtherWalls are more durable, solid and permanent than fences. Garden walls can be made with stacked stone, block, brick or stucco. Retaining walls are used to hold back soil or create terraces on the site. Retaining walls over 36″ high must be engineered to withstand the considerable forces working against them. Free standing decorative walls can be used like fences. Some are built with concrete, masonry, stone, steel or combinations.
Flat exterior walkways or paths connect and provide access to key areas of the home and landscape. Walks should be designed for their intended purpose. For instance, entry walks should be durable to hold up to heavy use and clean and flat to prevent trip hazards and tracking dirt into the home. Landscape walks can be made of many materials. These should be nice looking, prevent erosion and provide a clear, safe walkway avoiding mud and obstacles. See: concrete
Pavers, stone or concrete walks, are vulnerable to stains. Do not allow fertilizers to be spread and left on solid material walkways for more than one or two hours. Fertilizers containing iron can stain the surface.
Garden walks that are not subject to vehicle traffic should be constructed so that water cannot flood or erode the walk. For this application use materials that can be safely trod upon without muddying the feet. Depending on the materials used, the walk may or may not have borders and some materials will allow plantings to actually be incorporated into the walk. Its basic function is to connect the house with the landscape or garden. The flow of the walk should allow you to experience the best things about the garden for your personal enjoyment. An informal walk can be a path simply worn into the ground.
The minimum width of a walkway is determined by available space and common sense. The average human shoulder width is 18 inches. Allowing an extra six inches, the walk should be a minimum of 24 inches wide for one person and 5’ wide for two people walking side by side.
These small walkways can be made with large flagstones (small flagstone can be used too but if not well constructed can be a trip hazard) Decomposed granite, brick, cobblestone, gravel, sand, or pavers. The walkway should be free of overhanging trees and shrubbery making it safe and easy to move along. A great walk should provide an area for rest and bench for sitting and contemplating the universe.
PatiosThese are larger flat entertaining areas that are made out of concrete or various types of stone or pavers. Patios tend to be built on the ground level whereas decks are elevated off the ground or are external extensions to upper floor rooms. Patio material should, like walks be selected to endure their intended use. See: concrete
Patio entertaining areas can become integral extensions of your homes square footage. By throwing open large sliding doors to patio areas off bedrooms, kitchens or living rooms, those rooms can swell in size with the outdoors when the weather is fine. Patios can be equipped with eating areas, built-in kitchens, including sinks, BBQ, refers and cooktops. Fireplaces or fire pits and entertainment centers including special weatherproof televisions can also be installed. If the sun is too intense, trellises with retractable shade elements or giant folding umbrellas are available to help your patio stay cool. If the evening is chilly, patio heaters are available to take the edge off. At night landscape and accent lighting can intensify the beauty of the area and bring in a romantic atmosphere. Water features, fountains, ponds, pools and spas can also add to the experience and essentially turn the entire lot into part of the equation.
One of my favorite additions to kitchen-side patios are specially designed planters that can grow veggies, herbs, spices and organics to use for gourmet fresh cooking. Even the SF Giants have installed one of these organic garden areas to the outfield patio of one of the stadium restaurants.
TrellisThese are wood, or metal exterior structures used to create support for vines or shade over walks and patios. These are typically attractive structures that can be ornately constructed. If you have wooden trellises and expect them to last for any reasonable length of time, they will need to be designed and constructed so that the structural elements shed water. Simply adding metal flashing to the tops of structural members to protect them from both water and sun, will more than double the expected life.
- Every 2 years: Trellises require regular maintenance. Apply a protective coating to the structure or tough up the existing coatings at least every other year to help shed water and protect the wood.
- 2x per year: Also trim any vegetation or climbing vines so that tendrils cannot find their way into joints and destroy the structure.
- 1x per 2 years: Metal versions also require repainting when needed to prevent rust.