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Privacy Fences: Everything You Need to Know Before Installing Them


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A fence can serve many purposes. It can connect the aesthetics of your garden and give consistency and shape to an amorphous space. It can also prevent children and pets from leaving your yard while you are distracted. But a fence offers that above all: privacy.

Since installing a fence can be a huge undertaking, it̵

7;s a good idea to do some research before diving your head into it. Our guide will answer the most pressing questions and give you some insight from landscaping professionals.

How do I start?

The first two questions to ask yourself are what you want and why. Privacy fences are usually longer than four feet and sturdy. Chain links, on the other hand, don’t offer much privacy. So if you want privacy in the first place, height and material are key.

Then do some research on your limitations. If you live in an area with a homeowners association, or HOA, they may have guidelines on the type of fencing you can install, the height, the materials used, and more. Some places also require you to have a zoning plan or building permit before starting construction, especially if you plan to build a fence that is taller than six feet. You can inquire at your local town hall about any permit requirements that apply to your stay.

Once you have a good idea of ​​what you want in a privacy fence and what your limitations will be, it’s time to figure out how the fence will work in your particular area.

Locate your ownership rules

Knowing where your property ends and that of the neighbors begins is crucial when planning a fence. If you plan to hire a professional for the job, they will arrange it for you. But if you plan on building the fence yourself, do the research yourself. Please contact your local zoning office, where you can request the exact dimensions of your plot, provided your property is less than 100 years old.

You can also engage a professional surveyor. They are trained to find property boundaries and can point out where to install your privacy fence. Depending on the size of your property, renting a home can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

What material can I use for my fence?

When purchasing materials, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with the many options available. To help you, here are some of the most common building materials used for fencing, the benefits they provide, and the challenges they can present.

Cedar: Cedar looks warm and does not deform. However, if you put it in the ground, it can rot after a few years. If you want to use a cedar fence, you will want to use a concrete base.

Metal: Metal fences are versatile as they can suit a variety of styles and they are durable. However, most types of metal fencing don’t offer much privacy.


Fence materials can vary widely in pricing.

Thelma Lanteigne / EyeEm / Getty Images

Vinyl: This material looks great and offers excellent durability. The key is to choose the thickest one you can. However, since the installation must be accurate, you should consult a professional before installing it.

Composite: A combination of wood and plastic materials. You get the benefit of a nice fence and don’t have to worry about rotting. Conversely, because it requires meticulous installation, it is another material that you are better off going with professional installers.

Treated wood: It will add a little pop to any garden. It is often an attractive material for budget-conscious buyers because it is cheap and easy to install. When purchasing your wood, you can also select the planks individually, paying close attention to their straightness and grain.

Brickwork: Masonry can consist of concrete, brick, stone and other materials. They are perfect for elaborate and classic designs. However, due to their high weight, professional installation is recommended to ensure a good structural foundation.

How much do privacy fences cost?

There are many factors that affect fence costs, so it is difficult to give a useful range of potential costs for installing fencing in your yard. Everything from the size and topography of your yard, fencing materials, labor, where you live, and more can affect the final price tag. But if you’re planning to do a professional installation, it’s a good idea to collect two or three quotes to find the best offer.

During an estimate, the professional will examine your garden, talk to you about designs and materials, then come up with the total cost and estimated time for completion. If you choose to go this route, you plan to spend at least a few thousand dollars. And if you have a larger yard, these costs can go up accordingly.

Can I install a fence?

It is worth considering installing the fence yourself if you want to cut costs. It may require additional tools, such as an auger to dig holes, and it will certainly require extra labor. But you can find plenty of video tutorials online if you are committed to the process.

To get a few tips on self-installation, I emailed a number of industry professionals, including Josh Bateman, a 15-year-old landscaping professional who contributes to the popular Prince Gardening gardening consultancy center; Chris Laan, founder of Australian exterior construction manufacturer Designer Sheds; and John Smucker, a professional fencing worker in Pennsylvania. This is what they told me.

Keeping fence posts 8 feet apart or closer “will make the fence last longer and withstand the elements,” Smucker said.

“If you are in the northern United States where freeze / thaw cycles are frequent, fence posts can come out of the ground in a season or two if they are not below the frost line,” Bateman said in an email. “For a fence of 1.8 meters we like to dig a hole of 1 meter high with three times the width of the fence post.”

Bateman also suggests getting one small bottom opening under the fence so you can weed weeds without having to walk around the outside and inside of the fence.

“Some people only use concrete in corner pieces and use gravel to fill in the rest,” Laan told me. “It’s a mistake because moisture is a fence’s worst enemy, especially when using wooden posts.”

Laan suggests anchoring each fence post with concrete. He also said that many people use nails to build their own fences when screws last much longer.

Most everyone I spoke to said it was imperative to call city services before digging so that important pipes or wires don’t get damaged in the process.

In general, installing your fence can take a lot of work, but it can also save you money.

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