A picket fence is a variety of fence that has been used mostly for domestic boundaries. Until the introduction of advertising on fences in the 1980s, a Cricket field was also usually surrounded by a picket fence, giving
rise to the expression rattling the pickets for a ball hit firmly into the fence.
It is particularly popular in the United States, where the style has been used since America’s earliest colonial era, and remains popular in current times. Often the fence is painted white (or whitewashed) and made of wood, although some modern versions may use plastic that resembles wood, or aluminum.
The style is characterized as short with a tapered or pointed top on evenly spaced vertical boards, called “pickets” for their resemblance to the pointed stakes sometimes used by infantry in pre-modern times to repel cavalry.
Picket fences are also found in Canada, but not in new sub-divisions. Wood fencing is often replaced due to wear from extreme weather.
In the most common construction, the pickets are mounted vertically on a pair of parallel stretchers (horizontal strips), one near the bottom and one near the top. These strips are attached to posts (upright sturdy poles made of timber or possibly metal) that are driven into the ground. The fence can be assembled from prefabricated sections, where the posts of each section are posted into the ground but the pickets or boards that make up the fence wall are not inserted into the ground.
A picket fence, ideally white, is seen by some as a symbol of the ideal middle-class suburban life, with a family and children, large house and peaceful living. This stems from the fact that houses in quiet, middle-class neighborhoods often have a garden, which then is typically surrounded by a picket fence. In recent years, some people have associated picket fences with what they regard as the more negative aspects of this lifestyle. For example, the director David Lynch uses ironic images of the picket fence in his 1986 film Blue Velvet.
The phrase “picket fence” also describes text without spaces between words. Such texts are very common in Old Latin documents that often lacked spaces and punctuation.
Originally posted 2012-05-30 11:20:43.