In simpler times, the only important thing about a fence was whether it was sufficiently tall, long, and sturdy to deter marauding raiders – or more recently, to keep the kids and dogs safe.
Nowadays, however, we are more likely to consider whether the material we are using to build our fences is sustainable and will have minimal impact on the environment.
Non-recycled metal uses a lot of energy to manufacture and unless timber fencing is from recycled sources, chances are it has contributed to tree-logging problems across the world. On top of that, commercially-sold wood is often treated with chemicals to prevent decay and keep insects away.
Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative materials which are both safe and sustainable. Each offers a different look and feel, so you should be able to find the type of fence that would best suit your house.
Brush fencing. Made from the small straight stems of the broad-leaved ti-tree plant, brush fences are aesthetically pleasing and relatively easy to fit to your surroundings. The ti-tree stems are often left in their natural state and combined with painted plinths and cappings.
Bamboo. Bamboo shoots bound together make exceptional fences, noted for their sustainability, easy installation, durability and pleasing appearance. A lot of the available bamboo is imported from overseas, so take care to source yours from an Australian harvester.
Recycled materials. Fences made from recycled fibres such as plastic, wood and wheat straw are becoming more common, creating a fence that has the appearance of wood, but without needing the preservatives and maintenance. Old bricks are also popular, but might need cleaning prior to use.
Reclaimed timber. Apart from being environmentally friendly, reclaimed wood will often be stronger than many newer woods available on the market today.
Hedging. If you don’t have to worry about the dog getting out, thick plants grown around a frame are another good way to obscure the view from the outside, giving you some privacy with a living, natural fence.
Talk to your local horticulturist or council to find the best types of plants to grow in your area.