The traditional picket fence, so iconic in American culture, is a familiar and popular way for homeowners to enclose their yards. However, picket fences are not suitable for enclosing greater areas or land. The split rail fence is more appropriate for this bigger job. Farmers and ranchers frequently employ this style of fencing when they need to create an enclosure to confine livestock to an area or keep them away from an area. These are called "split" rails because of the manner in which the bars, or fence rails, are separated. Lots of space is allowed between each rail. As few as three may be used between each fence post to build the fence.

Wood is the most common material used for split rail fences by ranchers and farmers based on custom and also because of its ready availability. The wood may be simply logs that have not been cut up into boards but left as when the trees were first felled. Sometimes the log has been sawed into squared sections and the bark and roughness ground off at a sawmill giving itSplit Rail Fence a more finished if still rustic style. The fence builders may elect wood that has been stained with varnish or creosote so it can endure the elements better while some may let the wood stay totally unfinished. It is a matter of what is needed in the way of fencing and the personal preference of the person building the fence.

The rustic, country look makes this fence style popular for lining horse or hiking trails and along roads in rural areas. Areas that are visited by the public such as National Parks or popular nature viewing trails are usually more finished and decorative. An innovation that has come to this type of fence is the employment of synthetic materials instead of wood for its construction. The vinyl split rail fence is another excellent use for this material, which can outlast wood. It holds up well to all kinds of weather, is totally unaffected by water, will not rust, mold, or break like wood. Because of the ease of maintaining it, vinyl split rail fences are becoming the fence material of choice for park services and community recreation agencies that employ this fencing style.

If your front yard is larger than average, with some acreage in front, you may want to use a split rail fence to enclose the area and outline the entrance way to your home. The rustic charm of this style fencing works nicely with large tracts of land and will be an attractive way to create a fence lined drive. You can build your fence with wood if you love the look and texture rough cut wood gives. However, the vinyl split rail fence can be molded so that it is virtually indistinguishable from wood upon casual inspection, and will add the same charm to your property as genuine wood. Vinyl split rail fences let you enjoy the aesthetic advantages of the old wood split rails while giving you durable and practical fencing that will beautify your property for many more years.