Fence in Gisborne South, Victoria, Australia – Photo Courtesy: Ryk Neethling
As the old adage goes, good fences make good neighbors. However, bad fences may make bad neighbors, and will almost certainly cause frustration. When planning for a fence, it’s important to prepare the yard correctly and be familiar with the installation styles available.
Proper planning can limit setbacks and ultimately speed up construction once everything is in place.
The First Moves
Happy Neighbors – good fences DO make good neighbors. Photo Courtesy: Gordon
Before a shovel is ever picked up, it’s important that the following actions are taken.
- Contact adjacent neighbors to make sure that the area for the proposed fence isn’t accidentally infringing upon their land. Disputes over this type of property issue can get messy, so it’s best to sort things out before the potential for a problem arises.
- Check with local authorities to make sure that no utility lines run under the area that is set to be excavated. Although most fences don’t require extensive digging, they require enough that a utility line may be potentially struck and damaged.
- Consult the zoning laws that govern the local area. Some types and dimensions of fences may be off limits, especially in historic districts. It may also be necessary to contact the local neighborhood association in the event that such an organization is present in the area.
- If required by the local government, apply for a building permit before trying to complete any work.
Choosing a Fence Style
“Pretty with Pickets” – A nice Picket Fence in Birkenhead, Adelaide, Australia. Photo Courtesy: Michael Coghlan
Installing a fence can be a great deal of work. Therefore it’s important to feel confident about a fencing style prior to installation. Once installation is begun, few people relish the idea of changing their minds and starting from scratch. The three main styles of fencing are:
- Solid: Fences that are considered solid have a bare minimum of space between pickets. They are designed for privacy, and are a popular choice for property lines, around pools, or as a feature to block off view of a roadway. Solid fences may be as short as four feet in height but generally tend to be taller as they’re usually meant to lower visibility.
- Spaced Picket: Spaced picket fences are still relatively solid. They’re meant to be capable of keeping children and pets within defined boundaries, aren’t intended to block off areas from sight. Usually, the height of a spaced picket fence tends to be four feet or shorter.
- Shadowbox: A fence designed in the shadowbox style is a good choice for two neighbors mutually interested in installing a fence. Shadow box fences have pickets which are set close together but are also set on alternating sides of the fence. When constructed in this fashion, a fence will look the same from both sides, and insure that neither party has to stare at the back side of the fence.
Buy Durable Materials
Above: Jeremy found these various types of mesh from his local hardware store in Pakenham, Victoria, Australia. They can be used for a variety of things such as animal enclosures, fencing, gardens, landscaping and much more. Photo Courtesy: Jeremy Huggins
Installing a fence is no picnic and may require the help of a landscape professional. Due to the time and labor involved, it’s important to select sturdy materials that will last. Be sure to use lumber that is meant for contact with the ground. Additionally, purchase screws and other securing hardware which is weather resistant and can stand up to moisture. And don’t forget to weatherproof your fence once it’s in place!
Justin writes about landscaping & general home improvement tips for Edgemaster curbing machines. Edgemaster provides homeowners and landscaping professionals with the tools needed to expand their landscaping potential using decorative yard curbing.