In a large yard with a backdrop of trees, the head of a pool should have a focal point. Drawing the eye across an expanse of water to the far end of the pool creates reflections, while adding a mirror to the focal point creates an illusion of depth. Is adding trompe l’oeil to the equation too much? Well, since I had already stepped over that line with this design, I decided to add some contrasting trelliswork—some made out of red cedar, and some of wrought iron—to add to the degree of difficulty. That’s how magic happens, even though this destination screen really is just a fence.

Currently I work in SketchUp with fancy photorealism plugins, but when I designed this project I was using an ancient 2D CAD program on a 12-year-old desktop. Because we wanted to collaborate with local metal artist George Wycka on the final design, we built the fence portion and left him with the three center panels to play with. You can’t rush an artist, of course, so we gave him a couple of months and plenty of artistic license to come back with the metalwork. After the metal was installed, we added the black-painted cedar trelliswork to play off his spacings.

This fence is supported by red-cedar 6x6 posts set in 12-inch-diameter holes. To keep the posts stable, we filled the bottom half of the holes with concrete, then embedded the posts in the concrete. First, though, we coated the ground-contact portion of the posts with two-part marine epoxy for durability.

All the cladding parts were pre-cut out of red cedar as well, and prefinished with solid stain prior to installation. To help make the stain last longer, we sealed all the end cuts. Drip edges built into the top cap and the bottom rail are designed to shed water and enhance durability. And because we know that frost will eventually lift the patio stones, we stepped the bottom rail up off the patio a bit.

Finally, we topped the fence with rough-cut 4x10 quartersawn Doug fir beams, which we fastened to the posts with TimberLok screws sealed in with epoxy.

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