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Ideas for Decorative and Ornamental Fences

A new fence can provide both a practical and attractive addition to any home or property. Even old fences can be dressed up, often becoming a focal point in the landscape. Fencing options range from the traditional white picket fence that surrounds many older homes to more modern installations using geometric shapes to add flair. Even materials vary widely and have specific pro’s and con’s to be considered based on use, budget, and personal preference.

Wooden fencing comes in every shape and size imaginable, can be finished with paint or stain to compliment any style, and is commonly available. Installation is relatively easy, and can accommodate steeper grades than other, less adaptable options. Another traditional option in wooden fencing is lattice, which offers structure for climbing plants, allows light through, and still provides some degree of privacy. Pressure treated lumber will add to the durability and life of the fence, as well as the initial cost. Given these advantages, it is plain to see why wooden fences are so popular.

Another popular fence material that has stood the test of time is stone. Depended upon for everything from fortifications across Europe to the Great Wall of China, stone is obviously a durable choice for a fence. It can also provide an ornamental backdrop to a flower garden, a rustic feel to a garden path, or even a sturdy barrier to block out noise from traffic or an air conditioner. It can be dry-stacked without using mortar for a more provincial appearance. If solid support is the goal, few materials compare to the strength of stone. Stone is more expensive due to the additional costs of the materials, transportation, and labor. This additional cost is offset by extremely low maintenance.

Decorative and ornamental fences of iron, steel, or aluminum are an excellent option as well. Iron is the more traditional choice, but is often rather costly. Steel is the strongest and is a strong, attractive option for areas that must be aesthetically pleasing as well as secure. Aluminum is the least expensive option, but still provides adequate strength, minimal maintenance, and visual appeal. More and more decorative fences are made of metal, framing corrugated roofing panels in wood make for an eye-catching modern look. When paired with the right furnishings can make a very sophisticated look. Each of these choices have specific installation allowances, and although generally more adaptable than vinyl installation is not as accommodating as wood or stone.

Chain link is frequently the last option when considering materials for a decorative fence, but it can be a very effective addition, especially when budget concerns arise. Generally associated with the grey metal fencing surrounding construction sites, chain link can be dipped in vinyl or painted to blend with the environment. It is particularly useful on large properties where long stretches of fencing are required, often out of immediate sight.

In recent years advances in the manufacture of plastics has introduced vinyl as a viable alternative to more traditional fencing materials. Installation of vinyl is easy, but is not recommended for properties with steep inclines or frequent changes in grade. Vinyl offers a decorative fence with very low maintenance, ease of installation, and is not affected by the elements like some other options.

The rise in production of bamboo flooring and other building materials introduced this useful, renewable resource to the decorative fencing industry. Used for millennia throughout asia, bamboo is strong, durable, and offers many of the benefits of wood at lower cost. Bamboo is often used as a screen to hide an undesirable feature or extra privacy. It can also be framed with wood for an interesting and inexpensive alternative appearance. For a truly low cost alternative, the bamboo can be cut into sections and lashed together for temporary support or utilitarian asian appearance.

Frequently two or more of these materials are combined to form a tailored solution solving the owner’s needs while balancing the constraints of aesthetics and budget. To get the effect of a stone decorative fence with less expense, consider using stone for the posts and a less expensive option to span the gaps. You might also use steel immediately surrounding a secured entrance, aluminum on the more visible perimeter, and transition to chin link in areas where you want to restrict access but are less concerned with appearance. If you want a modern geometric look; but still need to keep pets in or varmints out, backing the fence with chicken wire can make an effective yet barely perceptible barrier.

Another option is to dress up your existing fence. This is accomplished in various ways. Use paint to add decorative flair to an older fence, call attention to a particular point, or hide a less desirable feature. Many times you can use the existing posts and simply replace the fencing. This will eliminate a significant amount of labor and time involved in the installation. You can also add various top caps and finials to the posts, an intricate gate, or even planters filled with bountiful blooms. Stained glass windows, mirrors, antique doors, and even fountains lend flair and personality to decorative fences.

Wind Chimes, Decorative and Therapeutic

Wind chimes can be a soothing, decorative and enjoyable way to introduce some music and personality into any outdoor location. Although they may seem rather simple, unique wind chimes come in a large variety of musical tunings, decorations and sizes all ensuring that you find the right one for your individual needs. Furthermore, you may choose from natural materials such as wood, Bamboo or something more unique such as Aluminum. Gone are the days of identical chimes which all sound the same, there are so many unique wind chimes on the market today that bringing pleasant, relaxing music to your backyard will be hassle-free.

In this hectic society, time for rest and relaxation is at a premium. There is a download available from iTunes which features the soothing sound of wind chimes for meditation. Explore the Feng Shui aspects of chime placement to maximize harmony in your life. There are special Feng Shui chimes which have been tuned to a scale obtained by throwing coins as directed by the ancient book of I Ching. What an enhancement for the practice of yoga or meditation. Take a moment from your busy day to enjoy the sound clips mentioned below. With all of the styles available, it’s possible to take a musical break to find the ones most suitable to your ear and decor.

When choosing which type of unique wind chime to purchase, there are a variety of materials to consider for outdoor use. Chimes are made of Aluminum tubes, Bamboo, glass and a number of other metals. Speaking of metals, brass is often used to fashion either bells or gongs, a popular category explored by many wind chime manufacturers. Another new category is the creation of small chimes which can be used indoors, placed on a desk stand to catch the air current from circulation ducts. Each offers a distinct musicality and decorative element which makes choosing enjoyable.

Aluminum Wind Chimes

Aluminum wind chimes feature durable tubes which can be precision tuned. In fact, Woodstock Aluminum Wind Chimes offer a life-time tuning guarantee. These wind chimes offer a distinct change from earlier chimes which were visually beautiful but paid little heed to tonal quality. With the precision tuning developed by founder Gary Kvistad, these tubular bells are of symphonic quality. One of my personal favourites is the Gregorian chime, which is available in five sizes. The durability of aluminum makes it an excellent choice for chimes exposed to the elements.

Bamboo Chimes

Bamboo chimes boast an ecologically friendly and sustainable build, as well as beautiful decorative elements. Their sound can be a bit more earthy and natural than that of the crisp aluminum wind chime, but their beauty also rests in the unique decoration. Bamboo chimes are tuned by hand and made of non-endangered, renewable bamboo.

Solar Wind Chimes

A smaller category of chimes combines various materials, such as Capiz shells or bamboo, to provide the music with a solar cell which absorbs the sun’s energy to provide illumination automatically when the sun sets. Not only do you have pleasant music for the ear, the sense of sight is also activated by the display of lights.

Bells & Gongs

Garden ornaments are becoming increasingly popular in landscape design. When considering garden ornaments, a choice of garden bells or one of the gongs will provide a delight to the ear as well as the eye. One of my favourites is the Woodstock Water Bell FountainTM which contains brass bells sounded by the continuous flow of water, the ultimate “Water Music,” with apologies to Handel. This fountain combines the soothing sound of flowing water with the harmonious sounding of the brass bells producing an oasis of calm in a hectic society.

Indoor Chimes

Indoor chimes are unique in that they can be placed as an accessory indoors wherever a slight air current will sound them. Feng Shui products have created a lot of interest of late, and there are specially tuned chimes which are based on these principles. Another popular chime features the Amazing Grace song. Other options include a small Gregorian chime and a Peace chime. No longer are wind chimes relegated to the outdoors.

Music has long been recognized as a potent force in relaxation. Tubular bells are believed to be the first musical instrument. Archaeologists have discovered drawings of them dating back 5000 years. Adding music such as this to your modern living quarters, indoors or out, is an easy way to reduce stress and add pleasure in your surroundings. Music therapy is becoming more common in schools and institutions. Add a simple variety of this therapy to your life, powered by the slightest breeze. With a wide variety of tunings from which to choose, you can experiment with various chimes to determine the ones that resonate with you. Hanging the chimes at different heights or in different places also changes the musical mix as they are activated by changing wind currents. All in all, this is customized music which is easy to enjoy, as wind power does all the work of “playing” the instrument.

Outdoor Decorating: Professional Landscaping Advice

Landscaping is a great way to do some home improvement that will have a big impact. Your landscaping really improves your home’s curb appeal and it’s one of the first things people notice about your home. One thing to ensure is that you also take care regarding the look of your lawn as a whole. Amazing landscaping won’t really help you if your lawn is patchy, brown, or unkempt. A beautiful lawn with tasteful landscaping can really catch the eye of a potential buyer. It could mean the difference between making a sale and continuing to set on the market.

Even if you’re planning to contract out the entire job to a professional, you can still save yourself some money. Spend a few hours clearing out the dead plants, weeds, and any debris or trash from all of your beds and lawn will save you paying a professional hundreds to do the same work. Clearing out beds is not something you need experience to do, so why not save your cash for the work you really can’t do?

A professional landscaper may provide lawn design or you may need to hire a landscape designer to draw up some plans for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to the conversation. Bring your magazine ads and photos to share with the designer so that they have a clear idea of what you envision in your yard. The designer can calculate plans with different options so you can see if your vision and your budget match.

Be sure to get references and referrals to find your designer. Talk with each of them and look over their ideas. Get estimates from each one, but don’t let that be the deciding factor. Carefully consider what each one has to offer and weigh in their reputation and reliability.