Choosing the Right Fence for Your Yard
The right fence for your yard is the one that does the job you need it to do, but just exactly which fence type and material is the one which does the job for you is the difficult part. In this guide we help you determine the right fence for your yard fence project, based upon your needs and requirements. Once you determine the right fence type, you’ll have options to consider for fence appearance and fence cost.
Related Fence Guides & Advice
What Kind of Fence Do I Need?
Do you have rowdy dogs that you want to stay in the yard? Or is it rambunctious kids you want to keep close and safe?
Maybe your neighbor’s yard is strewn with junk and you’re tired of looking at it. Or perhaps you’re tired of them looking at you and your family as you try to enjoy your outdoor space.
Got a pool?
You get the point. There’s a fence for every purpose.
What’s the Purpose of Your Fence?
Let’s go through the common purposes for a fence and which type meet that need.
Create a Boundary: Your Options
The purpose of this type fence is to ensure that what’s inside and what is outside stay in their respective places. Many fence types can handle this job.
- Chain link fence: Basic and affordable, chain link fences are available in the height you need, up to 8 feet for residential use. A similar option is a wire fence, but this type has a rural, agricultural look that might or might not fit your neighborhood or HOA standards.
- Aluminum and wrought iron fences: These are upscale options that provide a boundary but not privacy. Aluminum fences have a more contemporary appearance than traditional wrought iron fencing.
- Wood fences: Picket, trellis and lattice fences use natural materials. They can be more affordable than similar synthetic materials, but require much more maintenance too. If you want the wood look without the need for periodic repainting or staining, consider a vinyl fence or a composite fence.
- Invisible fence: This type will keep your dog or dogs in your yard. An invisible fence is ideal when you enjoy the view beyond your yard and don’t want to obscure it with a standard fence. They are relatively affordable too, but not all dog owners like the “correction” aspect of electric fences and collars.
Provide Privacy: Your Options
This type of fencing will also create a boundary, of course. But the goal is to also make you more comfortable in your yard.
- Shadow Box fences: These attractive fences are available in a range of wood, vinyl and composite materials. Wood can be stained to your preferred color and will need continued maintenance. Vinyl is maintenance-free. Most is white, but tan, brown, ivory, gray and other colors are available. Composite fencing tends to be darker – browns, grays, greens and black. All types can be quite plain or be fitted with decorative post caps or a row of lattice around the top. Accessorizing a fence adds beauty, but increases cost too.
- Bamboo fence: Made from stalks of bamboo, these fences give any yard an exotic feel. If you want to turn your backyard into a true getaway, consider a bamboo fence – and maybe a Tiki hut too.
Give Security: Your Options
The type of security you need will determine your choice.
- Chain link fence: A chain link fence is ideal for creating an affordable boundary that secures your property. The higher the better.
- Solid vinyl and wood fencing, like a shadow box, might work if the security issues are minor.
- Pool fencing: Most homeowners choose an aluminum or wrought iron fence to surround their yard or more specifically the pool area. But there are many attractive options.
- Glass pool fence: While expensive, a glass fence creates the least amount of obstruction. It gives you the clearest view of children playing in the pool too.
Create Visual Interest: Your Options
Fencing can be aesthetic rather than practical.
There are beautiful options based on the style you prefer for your yard.
- Picket fencing creates a traditional, homey look.
- Split rail fencing gives any yard a rural, rustic or Western feel. But it’s not much good for keeping animals in or out.
- Post and rail fencing has a “country estate” vibe.
There are many more types. They are listed here with links to more information on each type.
Consider Fence Maintenance
There’s a general tradeoff in fencing – Pay more upfront and pay less and/or spend less time for maintenance later.
Low-maintenance fence includes vinyl fencing, composite fencing, vinyl-coated chain link fencing, aluminum and wrought iron fencing. Spraying down the fence as needed with the hose or handwash it with a mild detergent solution before rinsing it will keep it looking its best. This will also prevent algae or lichen from growing on it – especially sides facing north.
Wood fencing needs more maintenance. Some homeowners enjoy washing their fence and putting on a fresh coat of stain or paint on it every few years. It makes the fence feel new all over again. However, the type of wood may also determine the amount of maintenance you require, our guide on cedar vs pine wood fence explores the differences between the two in terms of maintenance.
Determine your Budget
There is a fence type for every budget. You can achieve your purposes too in any price range. In short, you’ll find appealing options when you browse fence prices and types.
Fence prices start at about $4 per linear foot (less for wire) to more than $30 per foot for high-end materials. You can compare fence prices with our tabular overview.
Check HOA Bylaws
Homeowners Associations can be notoriously specific, some call it picky, about fencing. Yours might have rules about materials, types, height, whether it can extend in front of the house (probably not) and other issues.
Running afoul of the HOA will be expensive, so be sure to read the bylaws before settling on a fence. If you have questions, ask the officers, and have them sign off on the fence estimate you get. Literally. Ask the president of the HOA to put a signature on the estimate or a diagram of where the fence will be such as a site plan.
Do a search of “HOA sues over fence.” You’ll find plenty of stories like this one of an HOA suing a family over the height of a fence around their pool.
It always makes sense to double-check your fence plans with the Homeowners Association!
Find a Quality Fence Contractor
This is the last step in having a fence installed that will look as good as you expect and perform as it should.
Experienced homeowners occasionally install their own fencing, but it takes time, a lot of hard work, precision measuring and good skills to get a job that looks professional. The alternative, an amateurish job, is one that nobody will like.
Here are tips for finding a fence contractor.
- Get estimates from several companies with good experience installing the type of fence you want.
- Check online reviews of the companies – Google, Yelp, the Better Business Bureau are good places to begin.
- Once you’ve narrowed your search, ask for documentation that your preferred company is licensed and has liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance. This protects you against anyone being injured or property being damaged during fence installation.