Go Horizontal For Custom Fences And Screens

by Ben Bowen

Modern Horizontal Slat Fence Design

Note: Updated 1/8/17

When I first wrote about horizontal fencing in 2012 it was fairly uncommon. Sure, it had been around in Portland for well over a decade, but you really had to look to find it. What a difference 5 years makes! Many of my clients request it now and you would be hard pressed to find a neighborhood (maybe even block) without some horizontal fencing.

The challenge now is not to convince clients to go with it, or for you as a homeowner to find a contractor familiar with it, but rather to get it done right. There may be a lot of horizontal slat fences in Portland now, but many of them are bad.

This style of fence needs to be done just right, with high quality materials and an eye for detail. Because the lines of the fence extend for a long distance your eye will pick up every mistake, every bad piece of wood.

My number one piece of advice to you now? Only consider horizontal slat fencing if you can afford to do it right!

Now for my original post from 2012:


A great magician uses a multitude of methods to control what you audience see. This allows him to control the experience and make you believe- or at least marvel.

Great landscape design is a little like magic. Control the eyes, direct the feet, and draw people towards focal points in the landscape. In most landscapes this means hiding less desirable elements. A/C units, house foundations, neighbors all threaten the illusion your landscape design is creating.

Screens and fences are a common solution to this problem.

We like to use horizontal elements to create custom fences and screens that are not just functional- but focal points themselves. Many of these screens draw inspiration from bamboo screening utilized in Japanese gardens. Here are some good examples of this element in action:

Custom Cedar Fences

This fence is 100% cedar (thank you Lakeside Lumber!). The oversized posts will keep this fence solid for decades. Thick pickets and tight-knot cedar slats will also pass the test of time.

Custom Garden Screens

These screens are made of cedar 1" material. They are hand assembled on site. Only a few nails are visible on each panel. Even though the material is very thin, these screens weather very well! Very few screens are as beautiful and functional.

Check out this video featuring Ben and our fences or contact us to discuss how a modern screen or fence could benefit your landscape design!