fence [short for defense], humanly erected barrier between two divisions of land, used to mark a legal or other boundary, to keep animals or people in or out, and sometimes as an ornament. In newly settled lands fences are usually made of materials at hand, e.g., stone, earth, or wood. A fence built of loose stones is called a dry-stone wall. Wooden fences may be built of boards, posts and rails, or pickets. Hardwoods such as oak and chestnut are preferred for fence posts, although softwoods treated with preservatives such as creosote may be used. Other fence materials are concrete, bricks, iron rails, woven wire, and barbed wire. Storm, or snow, fences are erected to prevent drifts from forming across roadways or against buildings. Rows of trees or shrubs (see hedge) are sometimes planted as windbreaks. See also wall.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.