Know What You Want
Before you install a fence, ask yourself what your reason is for installing it. If it’s strictly utilitarian — keeping the dog in the yard — you can probably get by with a basic chain-link fence. If you’re looking to block noise or add privacy, you will want something tall and solid. Chances are your wishes are complex: You want to protect pets, but you also want to add a decorative element to your home’s exterior. Whatever its purpose, a fence can function in many ways, but the first step is deciding what you’re looking for to choose one that works for you.
A white picket fence is quintessential, but before you buy wood posts and whitewash, think about the commitment you’re making. Wood fences may require occasional staining or sealing and can warp and rot over time. Consider a low-maintenance material, such as vinyl, that offers the look of wood without the elbow grease. Other material options include aluminum, steel, wrought iron, and bamboo.
If cost is an issue, mix different types of fences. Wood picket fencing could be placed at the front of the home, for example, connecting to chain link fencing in the back. No only will this combination fence potentially save installation costs, but it also will reduce the amount of fence that might require repainting.
Inquire with homeowners or neighborhood associations and municipal building code officials regarding covenants that dictate fencing look, height, and material. City and neighborhood rules may specify the better-looking side of a fence (the side that doesn’t show posts and rails) be placed toward the public face of the property. Ask how far a fence has to be set back from sidewalks and property lines, and find out if your fence project will require a building permit.
Landscaping can be used to protect your home from weather and views and to mark property lines. Remember, local building codes and neighborhood fence rules may cover such living walls. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that planted materials don’t overgrow such restrictions in the future.