In 2008, we bought a home in foreclosure at a radically reduced price. We had some available cash to make home and yard improvements. Our first priority was to beautify two acre grounds of our new home, which to us seemed more like a true country estate. The historic farm house was in great structural shape, but the sprawling grounds had been badly neglected and lacked character and charm.
Because I had always owned condos, I didn't have experience in yard or fence design. I consulted books, online and had a couple of consultations with a landscape architect. I became especially interested in fence design and actually became a "mini-expert" in the subject, at least that's the way it felt. We ended up fencing the entire property with an attractive three-rail wooden fence. We wanted something a little special to the fence. In my research I found information about post caps and finials. Bingo! I had found a way to add personality to my white picket fence.
Post caps are protective design devices that are placed on top of fence posts. They can be very effective in protecting a fence - especially a wooden one - from the elements and from hazards such as bugs and rot. But they can also add a unique element of design, and that's what we used them for.
Finials are a little different. They are decorative ornamental shapes added to the top of a post cap. They are one of the earliest forms of architectural ornamentation and have been used throughout the history of the world to add detail and flourish to gates, fences, fence posts, arbors and all manner of useful structures. Finials are even used on flagpoles, bedposts, curtain rods and lamps.
It was an adventure in selection to pick the right post caps. There are many on the market made with various materials and shapes. Solar lighting is incorporated into some of the newest designs. I would have loved to use some of the solar options, but they didn't fit the character of our wooden fence. We ended up choosing a rectangular design made from a composite material that had the appearance of wood. The rectangles are staggered, which adds depth and interest.
Adding the finials was the last step. We chose a decorative ball made from the same material as the post caps. We decided to tread lightly with our approach to finials. My husband felt that adding them to every post cap might be a little gaudy. We added them at the front and back entrances and were please with the results. The effects were subtle and pleasing, but not over the top. Most importantly, I now have an appreciation for the fine details of fence design.