Sunday, January 1, 2017
A few friends of mine with young children called me in to help them transform their backyard into a preschool play area. Specifically, I had to put in a new fence because the short chain link that was on location was regularly being climbed by the kids, and was leading to scrapes and falls. Being in a neighborhood that was a little rough around the edges, they wanted the new fence to provide a measure of security as well.
On top of that, they wanted the fence to look as good as the rest of their property, since an attractive and well-designed space is typically better for business. Taking all their needs into consideration, I could tell that I was looking for a fence for an outdoor play area that would be reasonably high, solid or with smooth, unclimbable pickets, and one that would stay looking clean and professional for years. Achieving the best possible combination of safety, security, and style would be the guiding light for my project.
First Requirement for a Fence for an Outdoor Play Area: Safety
Kids are incredibly inquisitive beings, testing out everything they can reach, and playing with everything they can touch. With this in mind, there are a few major requirements for fences that are going to contain children:
Of course it’s important to keep kids from hurting themselves, but it’s equally--if not more--important to keep others from hurting the kids. A fence can do this by creating a safe, secure environment.
Second Requirement: Security
A high, sturdy fence is a natural pick for security reasons. With a daycare business, the peace of mind of both the parents and the business owners is absolutely crucial. Just as with safety, there are a few main considerations:
Third Requirement: Aesthetics
Since taste is often subjective, this is a wide-open category and changes from context to context. Wood, vinyl, and metal fences can all be beautiful if made with care and quality craftsmanship. At my friends’ nursery, safety, security, and good aesthetics combined in the form of a well-coated black galvanized steel picket and rail fence for the outdoor play area. There’s a reason that powder-coated steel is often used as security fencing for schools and preschools. Paired with their retrofit Queen Anne-style home, a black steel fence fit perfectly. The tall, smooth pickets with only a couple horizontal rails proved difficult to climb and safe to the touch, while the height and the ornamental finials provided security and clear sight lines, and made it the perfect fence for a Victorian house.
In addition to the classic picket and rail fence, there are new picket and rail systems that are designed with the option of attaching wooden or composite infill boards. With yards that could use both privacy and openness--say, an open picket arrangement on one side of the fence and a solid privacy-style fence on another--this flexible fencing system works extremely well.
My friends’ business boomed and they asked me back a year later as their play area needed to expand into the backyard, which translated into adding 200 more feet of fencing. There are many ways of providing a safe and secure perimeter for a play area. When I need secure, attractive steel fencing, one of the first places I consider is Fortress Building Products, as their fences are unique in the quality and strength of their protective coatings, ease of installation, and craftsmanship. They use a special coating method involving a protective zinc coating on top of galvanization, topped with an e-coat and powder coat, which keeps their fencing looking beautiful for ages. I also frequent their building products website, if only for the extra bit of inspiration that often results from looking at their decking, railing, and ornamental hardware offerings.