Environmentally friendly fencing: which option is best for the earth?

Installing or replacing a fence is a big undertaking. Fortunately, it’s one that most homeowners don’t have to take on very often. However, when that fateful day arrives, consider the environmental impact of the fence you have chosen. In the past, wood and metal were the only options available. Today you have a wide variety of eco-friendly options to choose from.

When focusing on the fence materials, don’t forget to consider the environmental impact of manufacturing the fence, the maintenance required to extend the life of the fence, the chemicals the fence may leach into the ground, the use of renewable resources, and how the fence is disposed of when it is no longer usable.

Let’s review some of the pros and cons of common fence materials.

Traditional fence options

The most common fence materials used include wood, stone, and metal.

Wooden fence

Wooden fences are probably one of the oldest types of fences. Wooden fences have been used for centuries to catch livestock, define property lines, and keep looters away. They are a great option to include in your yard. The main environmental problem with most modern wooden fences is the chemicals that are often used to treat the wood to extend the life of the fence.

Wooden fences also need regular maintenance. Most experts recommend applying sealant every 3 to 5 years so that these chemicals eventually get into the soil. If you choose wood fences, consider using sustainably harvested or reclaimed wood from suppliers like Centennial Woods. You can also look for scrap wood to use for your fencing in old salvage stores.

Wooden fences are often treated with chemicals to extend the life of the fence. Image from artursfoto at pixabay.com

Stone fence

Like wood, stone fences have been around for a long time. While it definitely will last significantly longer than wood and require less maintenance, building stone fences can be time consuming and very costly. Quarries also have a significant impact on the environment. If you’ve put your heart on a stone fence, try to find a local supplier so you don’t send heavy stone loads across the country.

Metal fence

Metal fences come in all shapes and sizes, from chain link fences in the school yard to detailed wrought iron fences. While durable and low-maintenance, the two biggest drawbacks of metal fencing are: 1) production requires a significant amount of energy resources, and 2) there is a good chance the metal you use for your fence will be transported long distances from yours House.

On the positive side, metal fences generally last a very long time. If you replace them, the metal can be easily recycled. In fact, metal fencing is probably the best fencing option for recycling. In addition, most wrought iron fences can be sandblasted, painted, and reused. If you are looking to work with a metal fence, be sure to check out your local salvage stores as you may find some good reusable options.

Close up detail of the wrought iron fenceMetal fences are generally durable and the metal can be recycled when the fence is replaced. Photo by stevepb at pixabay.com

Environmentally friendly fence options

We have already touched on a few ways to make traditional fencing a bit more environmentally friendly. You might want to consider these more sustainable options.

Living fence

A live fence is probably the most environmentally friendly option. Typically, a living fence is made up of a thick hedge, also known as a hedge. This type of fence, like a traditional fence, can provide privacy and security, with the added benefit of providing a habitat for insects, amphibians, birds, and other living things. While these fences require regular watering and trimming, they never take up space in a landfill as they can simply be composted in case you ever decide to replace them. One drawback to a live fence is that it may not be the most effective way to keep pets in custody.

Another fence alternative is the bamboo fence. Bamboo is considered by most to be a sustainable material due to its rapid growth rate. Among many ways to use bamboo as a fence, consider a living fence in which the bamboo is contained in pots or other containers. Or you can incorporate it with other woods to create unique designs. Cali Bamboo is a company that sells this type of easy-to-install bamboo fence.

Bamboo fenceBamboo fence. Image by MabelAmber at pixabay.jpg

Alternative materials

A variety of fence brands focus on creating more sustainable fences.

Trex sells fences made from 96 percent recycled wood and plastic: a combination of scrap wood, sawdust and recycled plastic bags. While this fence can be a great and durable option, the main drawback is that there is currently no way to recycle this composite fence, which means that if it starts to fall apart it will have to be thrown away.

Similar to Trex, Freeman Fence makes a bio-composite fence made from recycled plastic and wheat straw. This fence looks like a natural wooden fence, but requires little to no maintenance.

Whatever type of fence you choose, take a minute to consider the environmental impact. Think about production, estimated lifespan, required maintenance and disposal options, and choose the option that best suits your needs.

Feature picture from Pezibear at pixabay.com. This article was originally published on June 28, 2018.

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