How To Plan For A Fence


When I first moved into my newly constructed home, my mind immediately created visions of turning my empty dirt lot into a backyard oasis.  Of course, my vision also included a beautiful fence that surrounded my newly landscaped property providing complete privacy and security.  While taking my ideas and making them a reality has been a longer journey than I had anticipated, overall, I have been more than happy with the results.  Along the way I have also learned that one of the most important steps to creating a beautiful backyard is proper planning and preparation.

Check Local Zoning Laws and HOA Requirements

Many neighborhoods have local zoning laws or homeowner’s association requirements that limit the height and style of fences or fencing materials that may be used.  Speak with the local building department in your city to verify laws and restrictions.  Many times, building permits are required.  Whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a fencing contractor to install your fence, make sure that all necessary permits are acquired before work commences.

If you live in a neighborhood that has a homeowner’s association there are likely to be strict rules about whether or not you can even build a fence and, if allowed, what type of fence can be installed.  In addition, many HOA’s require that you present your fencing plans to a committee for approval.  Taking these few steps in the beginning is vital to the fence building process.  Before you spend all of the money to install an expensive fence, it is important that you make sure that you will not be forced to tear it down later.

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Talk To Your Neighbors

As the old saying goes, “good fences make good neighbors,” having a little privacy and separation between neighbors can be a good thing.  In the same sense, since a fence will impact your neighbor’s property as well as your own, good neighbors work together to choose and build a fence that will satisfy everyone involved.  Remember as you are working with your neighbor that you each may have very different ideas about what looks good and is most practical.  Don’t try to force your ideas onto your neighbor but keep an open mind when making decisions.  Hopefully, together you can make a plan that everyone can be excited about.

Determine the Property Line

Before you plan or install any fence it is absolutely vital that you make sure that you have a clear understanding of where your property line lies for the creation of boundary fencing.  If there is any doubt whatsoever have a land surveyor come out to mark the line.  If you only guess at the line you could end up building your fence on someone else’s property.  If that were to happen, the owners of that property would have the legal right to do whatever they wanted with the fence; including tearing it down.

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Consider Existing Landscaping and Sprinkler Lines

For a fence to look and function properly in a backyard, it needs to provide needed functions and blend with the existing landscaping.  As you plan where you want your fence to run, take into consideration where things like patios, large trees, or landscaping features are already located.  While some items can be moved, relocating them may be costly or time consuming.  In addition, if you have an underground sprinkling system, determine where your lines run and where sprinkler heads are located.  A fencing project can immediately become much more complicated if you are forced to repair broken sprinkler components in addition to the work involved with the fence installation.

Choose a Fencing Material

One of the most important decisions that need to be made when planning a fence is what type of fencing material to use.  If zoning or HOA restrictions are not a consideration, which type of fence you install largely depends upon the function you want your fence to provide and your aesthetic preferences.  If privacy is your main consideration, a solid 5 or 6 foot fence would be preferable.  If you prefer a natural element that works as a decorative addition, consider a wood fence.  If you need a quick, inexpensive fence to keep kids and pets safely in the backyard, a chain link fence may work well.  Each type of fence and fencing material also requires differing levels of homeowner maintenance so determine how much time you are willing to spend on upkeep before making your final selection.

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Once you have put in the time to properly plan for your fence, a great deal of the difficult work is already done.  For the ultimate in ease of installation, work with a fencing contractor to finish out your project.  With the right fence in place, you can be well on your way to creating a backyard oasis of your own.