If there's one traditional fence image, it's that of the picket fence. It pops up in classic literature as an enduring image -- think Tom Sawyer -- and is a staple of country-inspired landscapes.
Although often used in rural settings, picket fences can be a useful, beautiful part of several garden types and settings, offering a range of practical uses and accents. Here are a few creative ideas to consider for picket fences.
Place the picket fence farther inside property line
Many picket fences are sited right at the edge of a yard, in the slim space between the sidewalk and the property's edge. One way to soften the distinction between public and private but still use the picket fence as a border is to pull the structure in by just a foot or two. That additional space offers enough room for a narrow hedge or pretty flower bed to accent the yard and fence.
Use a picket fence on the interior of your yard
Many picket fences are used to define a property's edge, but they can be useful and decorative landscaping tools elsewhere inside the property. For example, a picket fence can separate a lawn from a flowerbed or vegetable garden bed. It might designate a kids-only space around a playhouse or a work-only spot near a garden shed.
Elevate the picket fence with a base
Many picket fences are plopped right in the ground, which works well for cottage or country landscapes. But for more traditional or formal yards, use a picket fence with another landscaping design tool: Elevate the structure with a base, typically stone. This can help transform the style of what would otherwise be a decidedly casual picket fence. Tip: Adjust the proportions of both base and picket fence elements to ensure the whole structure isn't too tall.
Repeat a color or decorative motif from your home's exterior
Finials, caps, curves, carved bases: All of those elements are common accents on homes, and any can be used to transform the style of a picket fence. Cut a curve into a picket fence gate to repeat a curve on a roofline, for example, or pick up a trim piece on the fence's corner columns.
Include additional hardscaping elements
Arbors, gates, pergolas, trellises can all be incorporated into a picket fence, particularly if the structure travels around the edges of the yard. Use larger elements to mark a transition from front yard to side yard, for example, or to designate a different use for another part of the landscape.
Choose an unusual color
White or unstained are common color choices for picket fences, but there's no reason to be limited in your color palette. Pick up an accent color from your home and use it for part or all of the fence.
Soften both views of the picket fence with landscaping
Many times the side of a picket fence that faces the street gets a landscape upgrade with flowers, plants, vines, or shrubs. But how the picket fence looks from inside the yard and house should also be a consideration. Try planting a bed that mirrors the other side of the fence, giving yourself a pretty planted view no matter where you are in the yard.