Brick walls which are to be a foot or two high and to withstand but little lateral pressure can be 4 inches thick. Higher brick walls need to be 8 inches or more in thickness, and are sometimes reinforced with vertical steel rods. Curved brick walls 4 inches thick may be built without pilasters.
Concrete walls are excellent for holding back a slope or for retaining an elevated planting bed. They can be poured to any shape, and may have a variety of surface effects: they may be smooth, treated with spatter, sand grits, or pebble dash. They may have tile attached to them, and may be given various tints. The tops of concrete walls may be smoothly finished, or they may have redwood or other planks attached to them.
Walls can be built for use as curbs around planting beds, as display shelves for potted plants, or as seats or even tables. They may be straight or curving, short or long; and, if used for seats, they should be the proper height.
Seat walls may be constructed of wood, stone, brick, or concrete. When wood is used, sturdy construction is necessary, with supporting posts not over 5 feet apart set 18 inches or so into the soil or into concrete. The planks used for the seats should be knot-free redwood, cedar, or cypress, and should be bolted into place. The planks should be sandpapered to remove splinters, and should be set so as to allow rain to drain through them. Space for swinging feet back and forth should be allowed beneath the seats.
When not over 1 foot or 2 feet high, brick seat walls should be 4 inches thick. They should be capped with planks at the time the last course of brick is laid. The planks should be fastened at intervals to the brickwork.
Types of Fences
Fences may be of either the closed or the open type. They may be used to afford privacy, security, weather control, and beauty. Maximum privacy can be secured with fences of the closed type, such as board fences, louvered fences, or fences of closely set grape stakes. Fences of the open type, such as wire-lattice, picket-and-post, and rail enclosures, afford less privacy and security. Maximum security is provided by tall fences, in most cases consisting of chain-link fencing. For control of weather, glare, winds, or frost, panels of plastic screen or glare-reducing glass can be used. Living fences of shrubs and vines also are useful for this purpose.
Wire fences, although not especially attractive in appearance, find an important use for marking boundaries or for enclosing areas such as vegetable gardens, kennels, or swimming pools. The fences frequently consist of wire mesh attached to wooden posts. Wooden rails may also be added for an interesting effect. Wire fences also may be all steel. The wire must be stretched taut, and the steel posts ordinarily are set at 10 feet intervals and in concrete. In rural areas, barbed wire is often used.
Fences of Pickets, Slats, Stakes, and Boards
Typical wooden picket fences are 3 feet high, with pickets 3 inches wide spaced 3 inches apart. Picket forms, however, are subject to considerable variation. Pickets may be narrow and widely spaced or broad and closely spaced; the tops may be rounded, squared, dart-shaped, or dressed ornamentally. Wooden pickets require periodic painting or whitewashing.
Fencing can also be made of long, narrow slats set either horizontally or vertically. Such fencing provides tall screens that give privacy and security, and are also effective as wind controls. Grape stakes, associated with the training of grapes in vineyards, make good rustic fences. Broad unfinished boards are also used.