Need fence toddler can't climb

bettinahildegard(Z9 FL)June 26, 2006


We are lucky enough to live on a small river. Our baby is getting ready to walk and soon we will have to worry about him getting into stuff (more than he is already).

The river is about 300' from our house, but we also have a inlet that stops about 100' from the house. We need to block off access to the water just before the inlet, but don't want to block the view, of course. So we thought a chain link fence would be the best solution, albeit an ugly one.

I was just told that young kids can easily climb a chain link fence, so now I'm stuck. I have no idea what to put there. Perhaps someone's got an idea of something we could put on top to keep a toddler from climbing over. We considered razor wire........ just kidding.



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vicki_ca(Sunset 14, US9)

Yes, children can and do climb chain link fences.

You could use pool fencing. It's somewhat transparent (preserves some of your view) and is designed for child safety. See link below.

You could also install an aluminum fence with vertical bars (looks like wrought iron). It would need to be installed low enough to the ground so your toddler can't crawl under it, and the bars need to be narrow enough so he can't squeeze his body through it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Protect-a-child Pool Fencing

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 3:45PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Are you fencing ONLY because of the child, or is there another function? If only because of the child, then you need only a basic fence, and a parenting strategy to go with it... because any fence is breachable. Even a brick wall 8 feet high, because one day, someone might park a pick-up next to that wall, or leave some lumber piled up, and the child will see his opportunity. What saves him is not an absence of opportunity, but his awareness that he is not to take such opportunities; not to leave the yard without mom and dad. It's actually not a different lesson than the one that any city kid has to learn about his or her yard. The stakes are no higher or lower, just different.

The key ingredient in your child's safety is his understanding that the fenceline is his limit for solitary travel, and the way that that limit will be established and enforced is by your vigilance. As always, it is parents who keep kids safe, not fences, or electrical outlet protectors.

OK, you came here for landscape advice, not parenting advice. You're probably a great parent or else you wouldn't be concerned enough to sacrifice your panorama for your child's safety. But what I'm trying to say is that you don't really have to. Build a fence by all means, and one that is hard to climb, but build one that you like, that preserves the view, and that won't cost you the child's inheritance (chain link will). Sounds like a fairly rustic setting, so maybe a picket-type fence with narrow pickets (which are actually harder to climb than chain link!) that allows the view to come through and is attractive in itself. Then put your energy into teaching the child that his free-range territory is INSIDE the fence, and naturally into making sure that he likes being within it. He may even accept the fence without demur because it is so... THERE, and kids like to know what territory is theirs (he doesn't need to know if you "own" that property outside). Even if there are occasional outings to the water, going through a gate WITH mom or dad, kids can understand all that - again, city kids leave their fenced or even unfenced yards all the time with mom and dad, but understand not to do so alone.

You don't want a fence that you think you can rely on to guard your child because the fence will let you down. When you think you can depend on the fence, you relax your vigilance - just to go inside and make a tea, just to walk around the house to water something. If you aren't asking the fence to be your back-up caregiver, and if you are consistent in the messages you send the child about the fence, then almost any fence will do.

Although I still don't think I would build a rail fence, which would be like surrounding the yard with climbing apparatus - an invitation!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 4:13PM
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Chain link fence comes with different sized openings. The smaller openings are designed for this exact purpose.

Vicki mentioned pool fencing. The building code standards for enclosing a pool are a good place to start because it is exactly the situation that you are trying to achieve. I think that you will find that picket fences, or anything with vertical supports, have to be spaced no more than 4" apart and chain link fence openings can not exceed 1.25". The height of 4' is the minimum that I have seen for pool enclosures, but it is often 5'.

Gates should be self closing (spring loaded, or some other method)and open outward (away from the water - inward to your back yard in your case). The latch should be on the water side requiring an adult to reach up and over to open it.

The best fences to not interfere with a view are black metal fences with narrow vertical pickets. We use them whenever a view through a fence is required.

Do not use fencing with horizontal members that are climbable.

Check your local building department for pool enclosure recommendations.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 6:58AM
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Bettina, Any fence can be scaled by a determined youngster however it takes time. Your toddler will not be able to climb the fence in a flash, so if you are in the backyard you will see the little one attempting the escape, even if you are focusing on gardening for a few moments and look up. Also, I completely agree that your child can easily be made to understand that the fence is the boundary.

In a few years your child will be able to understand that even a row of bushes or a particular tree is the boundary so you will be able to remove a fence if you prefer the view without. For now, however, given that toddlers do roam a fence is a good idea.

If you put in a simple picket fence, with pointed pickets at the top, you can have some "see through" and the fence will be a good clear STOP sign for your baby. Plus it will be easier to remove that a chain link fence if you choose to do that in a few years.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 7:00AM
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bettinahildegard(Z9 FL)

Thanks for all the responses, you guys. You have given me a lot of good ideas. The see-through pool fence looks great, vicky_ca, and I never even thought of a fence that looks like wrought iron. I had no idea that chain-link could be smaller than the standard 2", or whatever it is. Thanks for that, laag. And karinl, just as Patty said, even when you're around to supervise, a toddler can do something unexpected just at the moment you're not watching. Drownings are so common, and so preventable. I expect to teach my son about the boundaries when he can understand them, but a young boy's exuberance often takes the place of that knowledge.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:46PM
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