Property owners have been building split rail fences since the 1800s because they are sturdy, require few tools to build, and are adaptable to many landscapes and needs. Split rail fences are both classy and functional. As a visual cue to delineate property lines with neighbors and set limits for livestock, they are ideal. Because there are wide gaps between the rails, they provide a clear boundary without obstructing the view, making them a clear choice for many ranch owners. Split rail fencing also does not require a fortune in lumber or hardware to install, which decreases the installation price. The most significant drawbacks to consider when installing a split rail fence are privacy and security.
The wide-open spaces or the beautiful mountain view surrounding your property is likely one of the key factors that attracted you to the area. A split rail fence is ideal for fencing off the property line without disturbing the natural beauty. With posts spaced 8 to 10 feet apart and only two to three rails between posts, a split rail fence appears more like a natural window framing the landscape. However, just as it fails to block your view out, it does very little to obstruct the view into your property from neighbors and passing motorists. This unimpeded view can lead to decreased privacy outdoors and an open invitation to trespassers. However, you do not have to give up your fence choice to maintain your home’s safety and security.
The fundamental principles that effectively secure any yard can be applied to split rail fencing properties to make them more secure. It only takes a little forethought and some planning to keep ahead of trouble.
Height – Split rail fencing, as a general rule, ranges in size from 3 to 4 feet tall (the shorter having two rails and the taller with three). A 3-foot fence with two rails is an easy fence to climb over or squeeze through for most people and animals. Increasing your fence’s height so that it is taller will make it a more formidable structure that appears more difficult to climb.
Mesh – Small animals like sheep getting out can be just as significant a risk as small pests like raccoons and foxes getting onto your property. Adding wire mesh to your split rail fence is an effective way to close the gaps between the rails. It works well for deterring trespassers as well.
Limit Access Points – If possible, limit the number of entry points onto your property. Forcing drivers and foot traffic to go in by the front gate makes sneaking in or out less likely. Position gates so that you can easily see them from the house. Landscape lighting along the approach will not only light the way home at night but will act as a deterrent to those hoping not to be seen.
Keep Up Appearances – You can create an illusion of security by strategically placing security cameras and signs in conspicuous places around your property. Whether they are working or not, security cameras that appear to be monitoring your property line will deter thieves who don’t wish to be caught. Likewise, you may also be able to discourage opportunistic crime by mounting a “Beware of Dog” sign. Only you know whether or not your property has a guard dog on duty.
Create a Sanctuary
As long as you have a split rail fence, you will have less privacy in your yard than you would with a 6-foot privacy fence. You don’t have to resign yourself to being a spectacle each time you go out, though. You can create a space where you can enjoy the outdoors away from nosy neighbors or prying eyes by adding additional screening within your yard.
Lattice – Similar to split rail fencing, lattice fencing leverages the space between boards to define open, airy spaces. You can paint wood lattice or stain it for a more natural look. It also works well as a support for vines. Perhaps adding lattice fencing covered in flowering vines on one side of your porch would be enough to screen you from the road while allowing you to enjoy the rest of the view.
Living Fence – Many evergreen plant varieties work well as hedges or screens, as they grow thick and full all year long. Planting a row of trees or shrubs as a privacy screen may also provide you with cool shade to enjoy on warm summer evenings. It may take some time for these plants to reach their full height, though, as many are slower growing.
DIY Screens – Fencing can be as unique as you want it to be. You can be as creative between the posts, filling in the gaps and turning your privacy wall into a work of art. Old windows, bicycle wheels, and basketweaves are just a few options that other homeowners have used to provide privacy and beauty.
Split rail fences are a versatile fencing choice and fit in the country as well as they do in suburbia. Choosing a split rail fence for your property does require a compromise in personal privacy, but it doesn’t have to put an end to enjoying your yard. Taking the time to define a private space to enjoy and being deliberate in putting security measures in place can make your yard a pleasure to enjoy.