From the time the first settlers landed in New England and Virginia, they used fences for protection, to establish land boundaries and to keep cattle and other wildlife out of crops and food gardens. Designs varied widely according to the resources available in each colony.
The first settlers could not furnish the necessary manpower to build fences made from timber. "More rustic wattle fences were made of twigs, branches or grapevines woven together in the springtime when the material was still pliable," according to Gwen Bruno, on gardenguides.com.
This fence type was favored in the Mid-Atlantic states. The fence was constructed by stacking intersecting planks at 120-degree angles to each other. The corners were locked together by crossed diagonal stakes secured by heavy rails, called riders.
The planks used in rail fences were tapered and held together by vertical posts. Rail fences required less timber and took up less space than worm fences.
A precursor to the picket fence, the board fence used milled wood and nails. The posts were sunk into the ground and all of the boards were flat, giving a neater appearance than the rail fence. These fences became more decorative towards the end of the 18th century.
Stone fence did not become widely used until about the American Revolution when timber became scare but stones were plentiful. Occasionally wooden posts were used to supplement the height of a stone fence. These were called crotch-and-stone fences.
- "Wooden Fences;" George Nash; 1997
- "The Fence Bible;" Jeff Beneke; 2005
- Colonial Landscaping
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Tony Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Ross Spoon Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Alex Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of David Bleasdale
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