Good fences make good neighbors. Installing a fence on your property is an excellent way to maintain your privacy, beautify your property, and can instantly turn a yard into a private sanctuary. However, mistakes in the planning stage can lead to a privacy fence that is inadequate for your needs, and which may only serve as an eyesore. The following tips can help you ensure that your privacy fence is both effective and attractive.
Taking steps to carefully plan your privacy fence before buying materials or beginning construction is essential to ensure that you build an effective and attractive fence. Measuring and cutting a cardboard screen and then having a friend walk around the perimeter of your yard with it allows you to see if the planned height of your fence will be sufficient to actually provide privacy, or if it will be too short. Depending on the height required to block the view from another yard, alternatives to a fence, such as leafy, dense trees or hedges may be required. Furthermore, it is important to plan for the correct number of posts and rails for the fence. Posts should be placed 8 ft. apart, with supporting horizontal rails made of 2x4s (three required) or 2x6s (two required). Trying to use fewer posts will result in a weaker fence, and failing to use adequate horizontal support will lead to a fence that bows or sags.
Before you begin building, it is very important to check with your local city hall to find out what rules and regulations exist for fences in your municipality. Depending on your location, there may be different rules for height (including front yard vs. back yard), distance from the property line, and distance from sidewalks or roads. Some municipalities require that permits be obtained before construction commences on any new fence. As mentioned above, distance from the property line is a key detail. Building your fence on your side of the property line, rather than on your neighbors’, is vital to making sure you don’t have to pay for the removal or relocation of the fence. To find the buried metal stakes that denote the property line, it’s often best to borrow or rent a metal detector, and search the area around the suspected location of the stakes. After finding the underground stakes, it’s best to lay out several temporary markers the appropriate distance away from the property line, to ensure that your fence is in compliance with any local bylaws.
Depending on your needs, your fence will require at least one gate, and possibly more. If you wish to be able to enter your back yard from both sides of your home, for instance, you will need a second gate. Gates should always be designed with lawn equipment in mind. While pedestrians can be accommodated with a simple 3 ft. gate, lawn tractors may require a pair of 3 ft. gates together, allowing for 6 ft. of accessibility. Furthermore, one section of fencing should be made removable, so that a truck or heavy equipment can access the yard. This is especially important to ensure that any future landscaping projects can be accommodated, such as deliveries of soil or mulch, or the use of a large digger to shift soil or to dig a pond or pool. The section should be in an area that is easily accessible from a road or driveway. A panel or section can be made removable by toe screwing each end of the horizontal rails to the adjacent posts. Doing so is not a time-consuming process, and makes access to the yard for heavy equipment a simple and easy proposition to handle.