An arbor-topped fence

arbor-topped fence

Detail from an arbor-topped fence.

My morning walk with the dog sometimes takes me through alleys in the neighborhood. These are, understandably, often utilitarian spaces–waste and recycling containers feature prominently–but a surprising number of people take care with the backs of their homes even though the won’t be seen by many. There’s a one-block stretch of well-paved alley where every garage s neatly maintained in styles to complement the houses, complete with Craftsman-appropriate lighting and numbering. On another, an espaliered tree is carefully trained to outline an unassuming side window. 

Arbor-topped fence

An arbor tops this picket fence, elevating an otherwise uninteresting design.

In one stretch of alley, an attractive arbor tops an otherwise uninspiring picket fence of wide dog-eared boards. While it may exhibit the “layers and levels stacked upon one another” Charles Prowell lambasts, care has been taken in the stacking of these layers, the top slats anchored to curved supports, and the staggered heights of the segments give to some depth and interest to the design. Centered on the posts, the narrower diagonal braces create additional variation and shadow lines.

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