Landscape architects have always known that the arrival sequence to the front door says much about a home and its inhabitants, but now buyers also expect semi-private gardens, terraces, and porches in homes of all sizes. And, as small lots have become the only land available in many desirable neighborhoods, thoughtful landscaping has become essential to these home sites' appeal. One of the best ways to accent and define the transitional space between public sidewalk and private entry is with a unique fence or gate.

Picket fences and wrought-iron gates continue to be staples of American tradition, but there are many distinctive options to consider, as this slideshow reveals.

Jenny Sullivan is senior editor, design, at BUILDER magazine.