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The word fence originates from the fourteenth-century word “fens” which is a short form for defense. A fence is a boundary or a barrier that encloses an area. It defines ownership of a particular area by a particular person, and it also serves as a security from intruders into the enclosed area. Fence, unlike walls, are made of posts which are then connected by wires, nets, boards, or rails to form an enclosure.

The fence has traveled a long way and it’s hard to pinpoint a person or a culture that started the usage of a fence. However, we can comfortably say that along with the origin of the fence began when civilization first dawned on men. It symbolizes the transition of humans from a nomadic lifestyle to a civilization altogether. Initially, it may have been used to keep the cattle from straying. Fence found its momentum with the development of agriculture, the formation of family, and finally, fence served as an open statement in acknowledging an enclosure as a private property. It symbolized a barrier between an individual and the outside world. It served as an inhibition to trespassers.

Although fences existed before the first known records, it was the Greeks who started using them. In their own country, their lands were not fenced and were kept in view of social acknowledgment within Athens, but when they stepped out of their country to conquer the other countries in Asia Minor, they divided the lands among themselves with a fence to claim it as their own. Later on, Romans followed the same method when they stepped out to conquer other countries.

Numa, the second king of the Roman Empire had declared that all the men who owned lands must fence their boundaries with stones to honor the God Terminalia in celebration of their conquest.

Materials Used for Fence over the Years:

In the Bronze Age, fences made of stones were prevalent, as they were one of the most durable material. During the Anglo-Saxon period, they started using materials such as worm fences or split-rail fence in which timber logs are split lengthwise into rails which rest across one another at an angle to form a zigzag pattern. This type of fencing was used because it was less laborious and cost-efficient. This type of fencing was also prevalent in America and Canada in the 1600s and was used on many Civil War battlefields hence it is also known as Battlefield Fence. During the Victorian Era which begins in the early 1800s, wrought iron grids were used for fencing and these had beautiful intricate designs on them which showed both strength and beauty in one structure.



Types of Fence

The fences can be divided into three divisions:

  1. By Function – Examples are agricultural fencing to protect livestock from predators, perimeter fencing to prevent trespassing, decorative fencing which enhances the look of a property, crowd control barrier, etc.
  2. By Construction – Examples are picket fence – a waist-high painted fence for decorative purpose, split-rail fence – a zig-zag patterned wooden fence, chain-link fencing – made of wires woven together, wooden or steel palisade fencing – they are one of the most durable and prevalent types of fencing which have been used in Ancient Greece and Rome, in Pre-Columbian North America, Colonial America, in South Africa, and other parts of the world.
  3. By Use – Military areas, zoos and wildlife parks, pastures containing male breeding animals, construction sites, private property, domestic swimming pools, and spa, etc.

Well, this was the history of the fence, however, the decorative garden fencing would probably have originated along with the history of gardening. After being nomadic hunter-gatherers for a long time, when humans started settling down, they started cultivating their land into agricultural land, and this is where gardening first originate from. People started growing vegetables, herbs, and grains in order to survive. The ancient type of gardening is known as forest gardening. When humans started discovering edible fruits and vegetables, they started cultivating more of these plants, trees, and vines in one place for easy access to food. These would have been protected by some kind of fencing to keep animals at bay.

When humans had food in abundance, this type of gardening eventually evolved into elaborate ornamental gardens which were accessed by the wealthiest members of the society. So this is where decorative garden fencing would have started. In order to keep the regular people and animals away from these beautiful decorative gardens. Ancient Egypt is famous for such ornamental gardens. Egyptians also developed walled gardens which were a symbol of their status as well as these gardens were used to pay homage to their Gods.


The Elizabethan Cottage Gardens were very popular in that time, and even the poorest farmer had a patch of land protected by hedges where he grew vegetables. In the 18th century, however, the gardens evolved to look more natural and informal and fencing was not stressed so much.

As the gardening evolved, so did the decorative garden fencing. Today decorative garden fencing comes in a variety of materials like aluminum fencing, bamboo fencing, PVC fencing, wood fencing, steel palisade fencing, etc. Steel palisade fencing is one of the oldest forms of fencing which helps in protecting the property as well as the garden.