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A History of Picket Fencing

Posted on 23/01/2024

image of picket fencing

Picket fencing consists of a series of short evenly spaced vertical boards with a nominally pointed or rounded top. The fences are decorative - in that they are used to mark rather than enforce boundaries - and the pretty white versions became synonymous with the immaculately lawned American suburban garden. But its origins couldn’t be more different.

Military Origins of the Picket Fence

The pointed top of some picket fences is the clue to its origins as a quickly mountable military defence. Soldiers would sharpen stakes and thrust them in the ground at the perimeter of their encampment to conceal archers from cavalry. The French word piquet - meaning sharp stick - is thought to be the origin of picket fence (and the verb ‘to picket’ as in picket line where striking workers carry signs attached to sticks).

Just not cricket

For most of the Twentieth Century, picket fences were used to mark the perimeter of cricket pitches - and you still see them used for this purpose on village cricket pitches. They have been replaced with advertising hoardings at the big grounds - but you’ll occasionally hear commentators refer to a powerful shot as ‘rattling the pickets’.

Conquering America

American colonials used picket fencing to mark territory because it was cheap and (on even ground) relatively easy to erect. The style gradually evolved into a status symbol of suburbia. And the wooden fences that had to be painted or whitewashed became available in uPVC at the same time as lawns were being replaced with astroturf.

We love a good picket fence and have installed hundreds in Norfolk and surrounding counties. They are tall enough to let a toddler or a small dog know where to stop (which makes them an attractive solution for play park perimeters). But they also encourage neighbourliness as the adults can chat over them when putting out the bins. They also don’t obstruct a view if you are lucky enough to have one.

If you are interested in picket fencing (or any other kinds of fencing), contact Norfolk Prestige Fencing for a quote for your bespoke built fence.

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