'The fence' photo (c) 2007, Tristan Ferne - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

A Guide to Fences for Your Home

NOW is the best time to start spring projects.  So how about that fence you have always wanted to have installed? Or perhaps it’s an old, shabby one which has outlived its usefulness and needs replacing.  Whatever the reason may be, and if you don’t know quite where to begin, here are some things to take into consideration prior to shopping for your new fence.

Function really is the first consideration, even before style, and though it’s not the most exciting part of the process, it’s something that should not be overlooked, and here is why.  Like a Ha-Ha Wall, some fencing is none other than jewelry for a home’s overall appearance.  It can boost your home’s curb appeal, make it stand out from surrounding homes and make it pop.  However, on the other hand, if you have small children and your house is located on a busy street, perhaps you’re less concerned about aesthetics and mostly focused on safety. If so, a traditional picket fence can be a good choice.    Do you have a family pet, a dog that’s a high jumper or a tiny cat which could easily slip between widely staggered slats? Then solid board fencing could be the answer.  Or perhaps you’re someone who relishes their privacy, in which case, a stockade fence may best suit your needs.  And if providing security for your home is what tops your list, then consider foregoing horizontal rails, to prevent intruders from using the rails to climb on; a chain-link fence may be your solution.

Remember your needs should always influence your selection (see chart below).

Function     Best Fencing Types

Privacy – Flatboard, Stone, Stockade, Board & Batten

Pets – Flatboard, Chain Link, Ornamental Iron, Picket, Stockade, Board & Batten

Children – Chain Link, Ornamental Iron, Picket

Security – Flatboard, Chain Link, Stockade, Board & Batten

Farm/Ranch – Paddock, Split Rail

Noise Reduction – Stone

Ornamental – Ornamental Iron, Lattice

garden-gate-116918_640Style and Color   When it comes to selecting the style and color of fencing, you really should be asking yourself, would I like the fence to accentuate the surroundings?  Is the selection pleasing to the eye, and would it work with the home or structure in a harmonious, complementary way?  Do you want your fence to stand out or blend in?  If you have a lot of foliage, a wood fence, or a fence painted dark green would blend well with the surroundings.  If, however, it’s a winning rose garden or a towering rhododendron you’d like to be the star of your yard, the transparency of a wrought iron fence would work nicely.  And don’t forget to review the policies and regulations of your neighborhood or homeowners association regarding height, style, and color, as this too could influence your selection.

Material and Maintenance go hand and hand.  Vinyl and aluminum fencing are maintenance free.  Wood fences which are painted require the same kind of attention that painted or stained siding on a home needs.  Paint peels, and needs to be scraped and repainted periodically. However the upside to the regular maintenance a painted fence requires is your ability to change the color, giving the house a fresh new appearance.  And like painted fencing, stained fencing needs to be refreshed periodically as well with new stain and a protectorate.   Wood fences are affected by the environment more so than other materials. Even though redwood, cedar and pressure treated woods are resistant to insects and rot, they can be pricier than pine.  There is also the added consideration of moss, if you live in a damp climate like the Pacific Northwest, where moss is a common problem. If you are leaning towards a wood fence, not only will a new fence be in your home’s future but probably a pressure washer as well.  There are other materials to consider in addition to vinyl, aluminum and wood.  Stone fencing still remains a viable choice, as well as wrought iron and for the environmentally conscious, composite materials which can come from environmentally friendly, sustainable sources.

Other factors to consider prior to purchasing and installing your dream fence are property lines and whether you need to hire a surveyor to determine boundaries.  Also, it’s a good idea to discuss your fencing plans with your neighbor prior to purchase, as you never know, they may be interested in paying for half.   And finally, when considering your dream fence inquire about the manufacturer’s guarantee.

Plan for your fence with these considerations in mind, and you’ll soon be on your way to “staking” your dream come true!


'Wall and hills, Lancashire, 2008' photo (c) 2008, John Davey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/