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Fence Design Solutions for Transitional Outdoor Spaces

Vinyl Picket GateSeveral factors should be considered when designing outdoor spaces. First, it’s important to think about how you and your family will use different areas. Garden and fence design should also address how entrances and pathways direct the general flow of energy (think people and pets!) around the property. When done well, a fence design can contribute to flow and compliment transitional spaces.

The point of this article is to give you ideas about how fence design can delineate and ornament the transitional areas in your yard, with tips on how to accentuate transitional spaces through fence design.

Defining Transitional Space in Landscape Architecture

A major tenet of landscape architecture is to think of your outdoor living space much as you do your indoor living space. Each section has a particular purpose and may be separated by ‘walls’ and other transitional structures. In outdoor living, fences often serve as walls, but other structures such as screening plants and trellises can also take on this role by dividing the space. Just as in a home, garden “walls” help define transitional areas by breaking up space. As such, your fence design will have a major impact on your yard’s transitional spaces.

Thresholds are another important type of transitional space. Thresholds in your garden would include the entrance from the street or sidewalk and the area around any doorways. Gates represent another kind of transition or threshold. Passersby will be attracted to your fence design if an intriguing gate ornaments its entrance. Additionally, your garden might include entrance areas leading to the vegetable garden, the outdoor working space or an outdoor dining area. If you have a deck, consider the transitional spaces around that, as well. In general, steps and passageways (such as a stretch of covered pergola) would also be considered transitional spaces.

At the most basic level, a transitional space is one that directs movement and energy from one area to another. A landscape or fence design expert would be likely to see a transitional area as an opportunity to prepare the senses for a shift to a different kind of space.

General Fence Design Tips for Transitional Spaces

Designers have several tricks for emphasizing and enhancing transitional spaces:

Echo similar shapes in your design. An especially striking transitional element will include characteristics from both spaces it connects. In fence design, this might mean borrowing architectural elements from different sections of the home. A square Arts and Crafts style pergola, for instance, would be an excellent fence design choice for linking a square bungalow-style front porch to a square Asian-style backyard.

Take a 360-degree approach. When designing transitional spaces, think about all vertical layers, from pathways to overhead structures. An enchanting transitional area will engage viewers on many different vertical layers.

Make it easy to flow through your transitional space.  Visual cues such as pathways, short barriers and pathway lighting remove any doubt about where visitors should walk. In this sense, a well-designed transitional space contains clear directional markers.

Fence Design for Transitional Spaces in Your Yard and Garden

Incorporate accent fencing. Accent fencing is low to the ground; its main purpose is to direct visitors. It may only be six inches tall, but it can effectively direct movement through your transitional space.

Add a gate or archway between transitional spaces. These ingredients in fence design help viewers appreciate that they are stepping into a different “zone” of your garden.

Add lighting to guide the way. Fence posts may be adorned with solar-powered lights. Adding lights to your the transitional spaces in your fence design helps visitors “flow” easily from one area to the next.

Consider adding a “natural fence.” Design gurus would be quick to point out that shrubbery makes an excellent divisor for demarking transitional spaces. Grasses, bushes and flowers can create visual “walls” to emphasize and complement transitional areas. Additionally, climbing plants can soften harsh elements – a chain link fence is a lot less plain if it has a beautiful clematis or honeysuckle climbing along it.

As you can see, there are many different ways to beautify a transitional area. Fortunately, you don’t have to tackle the entire fence design process on your own. Many fence design companies offer free estimates; they can give you good ideas about how to titivate your yard’s transitional spaces.


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