7 Rustic Fence Design Ideas

Consider adding a rustic fence to your property if it is well outside of the city, or if your house is over 100 years old. Because a rustic fence is usually a wood fence, they are fairly easy to build and maintain. Study these rustic fence design ideas, then copy or adapt one to your particular landscape.

Consider Your Home's Architecture and Your Neighborhood

When thinking about adding a rustic fence to your landscape, look closely at your home's architectural style, and the size and location of your property. Balance privacy with function and elegance when choosing your rustic fence style.

Picket Fence

This wooden fence dates from the 1850s, and were built in areas where finished wood was plentiful but growing trees were scarce. They were made originally of the wood scraps left over from building clapboard houses.  For a tall house, make your picket fence with widely separated planks, squared on top, supported by concrete pillars at the driveway. For a ranch house, build the classic arrow-tipped low picket fence, with the planks close together.

Split-Rail Fences

The advantage of the stacked split-rail fence is that it needs no nails or screws to hold it together. The tree trunks are cut to similar lengths, with the bark left on them, and laid atop each other two sections at a time. At a corner between 30 and 90 degrees, the rails intersect each other like joined fingers on two hands. The disadvantage of a split-rail fence is that you cannot build several sections in a straight line.

However, they are wind and water-resistant and will stand for decades. Variations include the tenon and mortise split rail, where the logs are split and squared off at the ends to fit into square notches in the vertical posts. Long straight sections of these fences crossed the western prairies a century ago.  A second design is the cross-rail fence, with two rails crossed in an X-shape between two upright posts. This type was popular in Texas and the southwest USA.

Driftwood Fence

For a property by the seashore or on a large lake, build a fence of vertical posts spaced only 4 to 5 feet apart, and attach slender branches of driftwood to the posts. This fence is friendly to the environment in many ways, from helping clean beaches to using local wood sources. Use unfinished pressure-treated wood for the posts. As it ages, it will mimic the natural gray color of the driftwood.

Bamboo Fence

The preferred "wood" source in hot tropical climates, a bamboo fence could also make a great privacy screen for a pocket-sized yard on an uptown street, or for a Florida or California property. Stand the bamboo canes vertically for a palisade, or lay them horizontally in front and behind closely spaced vertical canes for a woven wicker effect.

If you live in a suburb with modern houses, consult your neighborhood association before finalizing plans for your rustic fence, as bylaws and other regulations might restrict the type of fencing you can build.