Outdoor fences define the spaces and edges around your property. At the same time, they redefine your home’s overall look, feel, and functionality. Like wall additions, fences provide structure—extending your indoor living space into the outdoors. From low stone retaining walls to tall wood privacy barriers, fences fortify your home while adding layers of architectural appeal. A well-thought-out fence builds up curb appeal and appreciates the home value. Plan a fence to complement both the style of your home and your neighborhood.
Plan Your Fence With the Landscape
Walk around your property and view it from every angle. Consider the ways in which different types of fencing will support the way you want to live in your outdoor space. Envision the view of your home with a fence—both looking out and looking in from the street.
Perhaps you want your fencing to frame picturesque views—or to completely block out an offensive view. In some areas of your yard, you might need only a partial fence or trellis as a type of screen to break up space. Depending on your land and budget, you can divide your yard into intriguing garden “rooms” with several fences, arbors, or trellises. Start with areas you consider priorities, like a yard fence to keep kids and pets in or a border around your patio. You can always add more fencing to the landscape of your yard.
Plan Your Fence On Paper
Visualize with sketches or computer program the fence or fences you want. Once you have tangible ideas, it can be well worth consulting with a landscape architect, designer, or fencing contractor for advice on materials, scale, and placement. Proper design upfront will save you time, money, and frustration later.
There are countless possibilities for plotting your fence design, from deciding where to place fence posts to inventing new ways to mix materials, like driftwood with metal. Unless your fence is dictated by a neighborhood covenant, your options are myriad, whether your taste is simple or intricate.
New fences can be costly, but with thoughtful, creative planning, you can lay down structurally sound fencing at reasonable rates—adding long-term value to your home.
Locate Underground Utilities
Identify potential dangers and obstacles in the early planning stage. Your local utility company can help you locate underground water, sewer, gas, electric, and phone lines to avoid.
Plot the Ground
A fence structure impacts and changes drainage patterns in a yard. When plotting where to place your fencing, study the soil and contours of the landscape to predict where water will drain. Sandy soils drain well, while clay-like soils are prone to runoff. Look at neighboring fences for clues to drainage patterns in your own yard.
Check Codes and Ordinances
Local zoning laws could have restrictions on the design, size, location, or easement of your fence.
Maximum fence height for street and sidewalk borders is usually 36” or 48,” while for backyards and side yards, it is 72”. If you envision a higher fence, you could apply for a variance. Or, for a legal solution for adding on to the height of your fence, you could integrate plants, latticework, or other see-through structural elements.
Think Outside the Fence
Fences cover a vast range of styles—all the way from conventional wood privacy fences to unconventional fences fabricated from salvaged materials like old corrugated tin. Whether you build a fence or have it installed professionally, the finished design is yours to live with. Be practical, but plan with your imagination. Beautiful outdoor fencing does not always have to be an expensive investment.
Alternative materials make unique and stunning fence options. Search your property for stone or wood to form a complementary border. A stacked stone fence or a wattle fence woven from willow branches look timeless and enduring. Purchase nondimensional lumber for a homemade-looking split rail fence. For quick privacy, consider ordering rolled bamboo fencing.
Experiment with combinations of materials on varying scales. Blend bricks with wrought iron or bamboo with stone. Salvage yards are full of structural elements, like old grates or decorative iron you can integrate with concrete, wood, or other materials. Perforated aluminum or other contemporary metal panels mix well with wood frames and posts and look elegant alone for a minimalist look.
Play off of fences with the textures of various plants. To break up the monotony of a privacy fence, cut out a window in a gate or a few strategic windows in some of the panels.
Whichever type of fence you choose, keep it with the style and scale of your home. A white picket fence looks perfect in front of a colonial-style home, but an oversized picket fence in front of a large estate can be just the right domestic touch, as well.
Whether you want privacy, security, or an aesthetic sense of separation, don’t fence yourself in too much when it comes to planning. Build a fence you feel at home with.