Even a minor thing like your fence choice can carry major ecological impacts. Choosing the right fence is one way you can help the environment if you are trying to create a greener home or landscape. The following guide can help you make the right choice for both your landscape needs and for the planet. You can also contact a professional fencing contractor, such as Davis Kresak Fences, to discuss other eco-friendly options available.
Benefits: Wood is a renewable resource when it is harvested sustainably. It also decomposes naturally or can be reused, so it won't clog landfills if the fence is removed. Wood fencing boards are also relatively economical, making it a suitable and attractive choice that can fit into most budgets.
Concerns: The main concern with wood from an ecological standpoint is if it is sustainably harvested. Choosing locally harvested fencing boards that have the Forest Stewardship Council stamp ensures it is from a sustainable lumber operation.
Wood treatments and sealants can also pose an environmental concern. Opting for naturally rot-resistant woods, like cedar and redwood, and using stains or sealants labeled as natural or environmentally friendly can help alleviate these concerns.
Vinyl and Plastic
Benefits: Vinyl and plastic fencing is increasing in popularity due to its low-maintenance needs and durability. Vinyl and plastic fencing is typically made to emulate the look of wood, but without the need for staining, sealing, or eventual replacement.
Concerns: Vinyl and plastic are man-made materials that often contain petrochemicals, so they aren't always considered eco-friendly. Fortunately, newer composite fences are available that are made from post-consumer recycled materials. These are a green choice, since they are keeping plastic and vinyl out of the landfill and giving the old materials new life.
Benefits: Bamboo is quickly overtaking wood as an attractive and natural fencing choice. Bamboo wood is highly renewable, since the bamboo plants survive the harvesting process to produce again. You can even opt for living bamboo fences if there are non-invasive varieties that grow in your region.
Concerns: Bamboo fencing can age quickly, so a natural sealer and annual reapplication is highly recommended. Fortunately, the old fencing decomposes and doesn't pose a landfill issue, although there is the expense of replacement. Combination wood and bamboo fence panels are another option that offers some additional longevity.
Stone and Brick
Benefits: Stone and brick masonry fences will last a lifetime, or several, with only minimal maintenance. They can also be highly eco-friendly if the bricks are made locally or if the stone is from a nearby sustainably-operated quarry.
Concerns: The primary concern of stone is the cost, but this is generally more than made up for with the longevity of the material. The mining and quarry process for stone can also be negative, depending on the region and methods used to collect it. You can minimize both the cost and the quarry concerns by using reclaimed stone or brick.