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Fences Here, Fences There!

Happy October from Desert Rose! In this month's blog, we are going to tackle the very large subject of fences. Fences can be used for a wide variety of things, including defining certain areas, keeping animals out of gardens and yards, and most importantly, for privacy. Whenever a fence 6' and over is going up in Santa Fe (county or city) a permit is required, as well as a few inspections along the way. There are several different styles of fence which Desert Rose installs and the goal of this month’s blog is to provide insight into the different types of fencing materials that can be used. 

The most common and most cost-efficient type of fence is a dog ear picket fence. This is usually bought from a home improvement store and comes in sections 6' tall by 3.5" or 5.5" pickets. These fences are installed by placing treated 4x4x8s in a 2' deep hole, then filling that hole with cement. These then used as the main posts and are typically spaced 6-8' apart. Next, 2 treated 2x4s are attached to the main posts which will then be used as rails. Each picket is individually leveled, then screwed into the rails using exterior screws (be careful not to over-tighten and crack the picket!). This is a fairly easy type of fence to install, however, it is quite a time consuming since it needs to be completed picket by picket and this definitely is a two-person job!

A slab fence is almost identical to a dog ear picket fence except the slab fence is much thicker, nicer looking and higher quality (not to mention more expensive). The same process used to install a picket fence is used for a slab fence. Both slab and picket fences provide the best privacy as the gaps between the fence are minimal. 

The next type of fence is a coyote fence. Coyote fences are latillas (tree trunks) and come in a variety of tree species. Softer woods tend to be cheaper but are more prone to snapping especially in windy areas. We recommend using red cedar since it is a super hardwood that not only looks beautiful but also has unmatched durability (this is the best type of wood and it can be pricey, however in this case you definitely get what you pay for). The more cost-efficient latillas are made of spruce/pine. They are softwood so they do not have the durability of red cedar, but they are considerably more economical and fences made with this wood are also appealing. The cheapest latillas to purchase (which we do not recommend using) are aspen. Aspen latillas are super soft and can easily snap with a medium gust of wind. 

Constructing coyote fences are a little different than picket fences. Regardless of which latillas you use for the fence, you always want to choose thick, red cedar for the posts and rails. If red cedar is not used, your fence will snap and fall with a medium to heavy gust of wind. The principles are still the same for the picket fence as the coyote fence, posts are mounted in cement and the rails attached to the posts. However, a coyote fence does not use screws; instead, thick wire is wrapped and use to tie the rail to the posts and the latillas to the rails. When Desert Rose installs coyote fences we get the wire, loop it against itself, then braid it (so it's twice as thick) to make it stronger. We then tie each latilla to the rails one at a time.  This process is time-consuming but it will prevent your fence from leaning as the fence ages.  This is a minimum two-person job and gloves are an absolute must. Coyote fences do not provide the same amount of privacy as picket or slab fences since the gaps between the latillas are varied, but it is one of the nicest and most traditional fences you can install in the Southwest.

The last type of fence Desert Rose installs is a split rail fence. These fences do not provide any privacy nor do they keep animals out (unless you modify them with metal mesh) but they do look nice and can be used to define certain areas of a property. They are also nice because you don’t feel enclosed behind a fence or lose the visibility that may be obstructed by a solid fence. A split rail fence is assembled very differently than the other fences as the rails need to be locked in place by the posts before the cement dries. The posts have notches in them that are the same size as the notches on the rails. To successfully install a split rail fence, the post holes should be dug and the fence laid out to accurately visualize the area. Beginning with the corner post, place it in the hole and level it while one person holds the post while the other person carefully fills the hole with quick-dry cement (make sure the post stays level while the hole is being filled). Once the cement is firm, place the next post in the hole and lean it away from the first post. Place the rails in the notches of the first post, then fit them into the second post. Once the second post is leveled and the notches of the rails are in the post, fill in the post hole with cement (make sure it stays level) and allow the cement to firm. Repeat this process until the fence is complete. Due to the fast rate at which the cement dries and the need to correctly level each post, this fence installation is a two to three-person job, to say the least.

We hope this blog has helped to inform you about the different types of fences Desert Rose can install and the pros and cons of each type of fence. If these fences seem like a lot of work, you are not wrong! If you are fairly handy and have a friend or two (who are close to your skillset) these fences are a feasible home project. If you are not very handy, don’t have friends available (who are close to your skill set), or just don’t want to tackle the task of putting up a fence, give us a call and we will gladly help!


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