You’ve seen it before: a chain link fence right in the middle of a downtown. Usually there’s barbed wire at the top. Let’s face it, barbed wire is not the friendliest look for a downtown. We can do better.
Why chain link in the first place?
When a business ends up with an empty lot they can use for storage downtown, there’s a strong drive to fence it off and protect their goods. Chain link topped with barbed wire is cheap and easy.
Businesses still need to store things. No one wants to spend a lot of money to replace the fence with something friendlier. Heck, we don’t even want to spend money at all if we can avoid it.
How could you make it look better?
A whole group of us brainstormed some ideas for you:
- Add colorful slats in rainbow patterns, waves, words or logos
- Frame art and hang it from the chain link, inside or outside
- Hang twinkle lights from the fence and barbed wire
- Twist wire foil tinsel garland around the barbed wire
- Hang whirly gigs or streamers to dance in the wind
- Set up a sculpture display in front of the fence (most fences are usually set back from the property line) or just behind the fence
- Create cut-out art to hang on the fence
- Hang some wayfinding signs to direct people to cool things around town
How Castle Rock, Washington, made chain link fences into art galleries
When I visited Castle Rock, I pointed out the storage lot next the hardware store that in the photo at the top of this story. It’s not going to go away, so why not use it to hang art? Turns out they already had some kids’ art hanging on chain link fences, just around the corner in a less-visible place. So they moved it and added a big way-finding arrow to point out nearby attractions.
Have you seen any good chain link art?
I’d love to see photos of dressed-up chain link fences you’ve seen anywhere. Share the ideas so we can inspire even more small towns to more beautiful fences.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.