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Stylish alternatives to consider for fencing [The San Diego Union-Tribune :: BC-HOME-FENCING:SD]

Fencing has long been an underrated part of a property. New homeowners are usually busy adding decor and greenery to customize their homes and take the perimeter partition for granted.

But while fencing is first and foremost a practical item, creating privacy while keeping wanted things in and unwanted things out, it can also make a bold statement. And if it's installed in the front of a home, it is often the first thing people will see. Here are some options to consider when installing a new fence.

GO DARK

Very dark or black fences make a bold modern statement. Although it's not for everyone - many find they are too overpowering and somber for a sunny garden - dark fences have an urban edge, and they provide a striking contrast to green vegetation. Add white flowers and the look becomes classic but still very contemporary.

To create the dark look, wood can be painted or stained, but another option that is gaining popularity is the Japanese technique of shou sugi ban. This method chars the wood to a dark, earthy color. It also makes it almost maintenance-free because the layer of carbon created by burning the exterior of the wood makes it resistant to bugs and rot.

HORIZONTAL LINES

Uninterrupted horizontal slats will create a contemporary space that feels connected to the earth and cozy. These horizontal sightlines invite the eye to move around the space and embrace the enclosure. To create a lighter screen, leave space between the slats to allow a play of light and shadow and a glance at the other side. Horizontal fences can also easily accommodate ledges for plants, making them practical for small spaces.

EFFORTLESS

Vinyl is becoming an increasingly popular option because of its versatility and because it's basically maintenance-free. Vinyl fences don't crack, rot or get eaten by bugs - and they never have to be painted. The only thing they need is to be hosed off on occasion. They also come in a wide range of styles and colors. One of the most popular options is still the classic, white picket fence.

GO GREEN

Eco-friendly panels of bamboo are available for fencing. But because bamboo is becoming an increasingly popular choice for environmentally conscious homeowners, there are now many grades of bamboo available. Be sure to check that the wood has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Reclaimed wood is another option growing in popularity - and it is often a high-quality material. Conversely, when replacing an old fence with a new one, salvage the old wood and repurpose it into containers for vegetables or flower boxes.

THINK BEYOND THE WOOD

Aluminum is a low maintenance option that offers the high-end look of wrought iron. Prefabricated aluminum bars can offer good security with finials - plus aluminum is 100 percent recyclable. Cor-Ten steel, which is designed to rust, can be mixed with wood or used in sculptural pickets for an industrial look. For a more agricultural feel, try corrugated metal, which is not only durable, but easy on the budget.

With so many options available, it's time to give the fence a second look - and some personality.

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