More Than Pickets

When it comes to great design, it's all in the details.
(Download our printable PDF featuring the fence design in this story.)
Edwin Marty / Photography by Van Chaplin

FOR MORE INFO (from page 43 of Our Best Gardens):
To learn more about this fence design, download our printable PDF.

Gregg Litchfield of Marietta, Georgia, wanted to transform his side yard into a formal garden that fit with his 1928 Federal-style house. He and his friend landscape architect Will Goodman created a design inspired by the house's roof balustrade. "I wanted the yard to be enclosed," Gregg says, "and thought the pattern of the balustrade was really unique and definitely worth replicating."

Putting It All Together
Once Gregg had the side yard graded and had retaining walls installed, he and his father, George, started building the fence. "I wanted the side yard to feel like it had always been part of the house," Gregg says, "so I used red bricks like those on the steps of the house to create a cap on top of the retaining walls and to construct the corner columns."

The fence actually sits on top of this cap, which forms a clean division between the pathway circling the side yard and the fence itself. "I milled the 6 x 6 treated posts down to 5 x 5s to match the dimensions of the balustrade," Gregg explains. For added interest, he installed double posts. "Wherever I needed a post, I drilled a hole in the wall and dropped in a piece of rebar. I attached the rebar with QuickSet and drilled holes in the posts so that they would slide onto the rebar."

The Fence
With the posts in place, Gregg was ready to build the fence. He started by beveling the 2 x 4 crossbeams and then installing the bottom beams between the posts. After splitting another beveled 2 x 4 lengthwise, he set redwood pickets on each lower beam and placed split 2 x 4s on top. In between each pair of double posts, Gregg set the pickets diagonally to match the original balustrade.

Imitating the corner brick columns, Gregg built two more columns on either side of the street-side gates. He then had a local woodworker build gates inspired by a design found at an older home in Macon.

HINTS FOR A GREAT FENCE
  • Use either redwood or treated lumber for posts.
  • Set the posts on metal brackets mounted in concrete to prevent wood from rotting.
  • Hire a professional to set the posts to save time, and install prefabricated fence sections yourself to save money.
  • Fill your postholes halfway with concrete to accommodate the heaving of the soil during freezes. Fill in the rest of the hole with gravel or soil.
  • Use posts that are at least 5 x 5.



"More Than Pickets" is from the spring 2006 issue of Our Best Gardens, a special-interest newsstand publication of Southern Living.