What makes a good fence? It must be well built, easy to maintain, and long lasting. But it also has to be attractive and look like it belongs.
Why do you need to build a fence?
Most fences are intended to protect property, secure pets or children, and provide privacy. But it is important to clarify how a fence will accomplish these things. In some cases a low, open fence makes the home more secure than a tall fence, because neighbors can spot intruders.
A fence around a swimming pool, on the other hand, generally has to be 4 to 6 feet tall in order to provide privacy and keep out small children.
Another reason for a fence is wind protection. A high, solid fence at the property line will not screen the wind from a patio 20 feet away, because the wind just swirls over the top and continues unabated. An open fence is actually better.
It at least tames the wind, if not blocks it. The best solution is a tall fence directly adjacent to the area needing shelter. Screening out objectionable views is a good argument for a fence.
You may find that the screen does not have to be full height to do so. Or a fence with staggered heights may be appropriate because it blocks out some views but preserves desirable ones.
A fence can also provide shade, reflect light into dark rooms of the house, block unwanted noise, or even become a temporary barrier for heavy construction in the backyard. Each of these needs affects the shape, color, size, and construction of a fence.
Maintaining a fence. Besides function, consider the maintenance. It is a mistake to base a fence design solely on cost. Nothing can make a property look run-down than a sagging, warped fence. It pays to think in terms of longevity, even though the initial cost is greater.
Considering the neighbors. Your new fence will effect your neighbors, just as their fences and yards affect how you design your fence.
Before you start to build, talk with your neighbors. Sometimes this can lead to splitting costs.
In order to maintain good relations with neighbors, advise them that you plan to build and try to design a fence that will blend with their yard as well as yours.
Checking height requirements. Verify property lines and check deed restrictions and building codes for height and other requirements.
Normally, fences on the front property line are limited to 42 inches high; side and back fences, up to 6 feet. A higher fence is allowed if it is set in from the property line and the height is within a 45-degree angle that begins at a point 6 feet above the property line.
Aesthetic considerations. A fence should harmonize with its surroundings. It should be level if the ground is fairly level, and it should either step down or follow the contour of a steep slope.
The size should be in proportion to the site, neither dominating nor being dwarfed by its setting. The materials should be keeping with your home, whether it is rustic or formal, lively or subdued.