What Are The Environmental Factors Affecting A Fence?

Posted by Dawn Lowndes

Tue, Apr 19, 2011

environmental fence

In a time when it is close to impossible to pass through any one day without hearing some kind of information about the environment, this question should be discussed. This particular topic really must be analyzed from several different angles to get a workable answer.

Lets start by deciding what a fence is? The dictionary defines a fence as a barrier intended to prevent escape or intrusion or to mark a boundary. This definition could take into account a vast amount of fence types. Our discussion will limit its focus to the most common types of fencing including silt fencing, as well as chain link, ornamental aluminum, wood and vinyl fence materials.

Silt fence is the easiest to discuss because its chief purpose is to help protect the environment. Silt fence is usually placed on the down hill side of job sites to keep debris and other runoff from entering the local waterways and killing of the aquatic life. It does this by allowing the water to pass through the fabric while filtering off the loose debris.

Chainlink fence is sometimes used as a trash collector in local spillways to keep large debris such as soda bottles and trash bags from passing while allowing the passing of water and smaller debris. In this way it is environmentally friendly like the silt fence previously mentioned. It is also made from a galvanized coated steel wire that is completely recyclable. This feature actually allows the fence material to be melted down and used again. Ornamental fence is also completely recyclable. It too is made from aluminum or steel, which can be melted down or used again. Recyclability makes chainlink and ornamental fence an environmentally reasonable fence material to choose. 

Wood, which is commonly used for picket fences and privacy fences, is a bit more involved environmentally. It should be stated that wood fencing does not do any more harm to the environment than any other wood structure that is made from the same type of lumber. Lumber itself, then becomes the key point of this discussion. Wood fence made from non-treated wood is completely environmentally friendly because it will eventually rot away or decay. It will of course be made from trees and that is an obvious environmental factor. Treating wood to increase the fence’s life span can buffer the use of wood but it does have its own down side. The chemicals that were previously used to treat the wood were arsenate based. These had a negative effect on the environment due to the impact on local wild life. Because of this, different chemicals are now being used to pressure treat lumber. None of the current products are perfect, but all will have a more positive effect on the environment arsenate.

Vinyl fence products are completely recyclable. Finding a company that recycles may prove to be rather difficult. Vinyl actually needs recycling more than any of the other mentioned fence types because vinyl does not decay at a rate worth mentioning. This means that once vinyl is created it will be around forever. For this reason alone, you should be aware of the drawback of selecting the vinyl choice. The ironic positive factor of vinyl is its longevity. Fewer raw materials will be needed for frequent fence replacement. It would be in the environments best interest for the consumer to accept the task of researching a viable recycle option for their disposed vinyl fence materials.

This information in no way covers the vast amount of environmental considerations for a fence selection.  The amount of resources used to produce and ship the fence is a hidden factor. Sometimes the obvious answers around environmental considerations are far too simplified, but being mindful of the affect of your decisions on our world is best.

Environmental Issues resized 600

Article contributed by fence professional Luke Drylie.

Topics: Specifications, Vinyl Fence, Ornamental Aluminum, Aluminum Fence