When it comes to privacy fencing, we’ve all heard Robert Frost’s old adage, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Even if you enjoy the company of your next-door neighbors, privacy fencing can be a great way to minimize noise pollution, buffer against strong winds, deter intruders, and reduce the visibility of your family’s activities.

Why Install a Privacy Fence?

Each family is different, so the design of your privacy fence should support your family’s priorities and needs. A quality fencing contractor can help you choose a fence suited best to your lifestyle and tastes.

Pets. Many families with pets opt for privacy fences as opposed to other designs. Privacy fences typically stand at around six to eight feet tall, which should stop a larger dog from plotting an escape. However, dogs can slip through fences as well as over them. If you have a smaller dog, consider a fence design with little to no spacing between the slats, such as a stockade fence.

Security for your family. No privacy fence will be completely secure; however, it can deter against intruders. An individual attempting to access or jump over a fence looks much more suspicious to the casual onlooker than someone simply walking through a backyard. Privacy fences also stop young children from wandering away. For children of any age, privacy fences protect them from unwanted onlookers. Even for simple activities like gardening, reading in a lounge chair, or eating on a back patio, having a privacy fence limits your exposure, creating a sense of intimacy.

Privacy fence designs offer varying levels of security. If some visibility is acceptable, lattices or negative arches between posts can add a little flare to your fence. Also, shadow box fences feature slats that alternate on either side of the rail, which affords some visibility. These fences look finished on both sides, making them a great choice if you share your fence with a neighbor. If low visibility is desired, consider a board and stringer or a stockade fence with minimal spacing between the slats or one with positive arches along the top.

Wind and noise. Particularly for homeowners who live near busy streets, privacy fences make great sound barriers. A well-designed privacy fence can also shield your yard against uncomfortable gusts of wind. Keep in mind that a fence with open spaces in it will buffer against wind better than a solid fence. While this seems counterintuitive, wind will simply launch over a solid fence. A privacy fence with some open spaces in it, such as a shadow box design, will slow down and redirect strong winds.

Choosing a Material

Wood. A popular choice for privacy fencing, wood fences are commonly built from cedar or pressure-treated pine. Wood fences will weather and age differently depending on the regional climate, so consult with a professional to determine the best type of wood and grade to use. In general, pressure-treated pine stands up better to humidity, while cedar is more apt for drier climates. Cedar doesn’t warp as easily as pressure-treated pine, making it an ideal choice for fences that incorporate more decorative details. Check out our blog on wood fences for more information.

Vinyl and composite. If the maintenance requirements of a wood fence seem like more than you’re willing to commit to, then a vinyl or composite fence might suit your needs best. Keep in mind that vinyl and composite privacy fences typically come in prefabricated panels that may not always accommodate steep slopes or irregularly outlined yards.

Before You Dig Any Holes

Homeowners’ associations usually have style guidelines that determine the type, height, and location of fences that can be built, so check with your neighborhood before getting your heart set on any one design. While a fence can add value to a property, it could deter buyers if it sticks out like a sore thumb. If you are considering selling your home in the near future, drive around your community to see what styles are popular in the area.

Local governments often require permits to build a fence. While it may seem like just another piece of red tape, acquiring a permit is a fairly easy and straightforward process designed to make sure the fence is built according to code and within your property lines. A quality contractor should be able to assist you with acquiring any necessary permits in addition to having utility lines marked by the proper authorities. For more information, check out our blog on planning a fence project.

Enclosing your yard with a privacy fence turns an open, exposed backyard into an intimate extension of your home. Privacy fences come in many varieties, but a quality fencing professional can help you choose the right design that reflects your family’s unique style and needs.

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Sources: EBSCOhost Home Improvement Reference Center: Fences, Gates & Garden Walls.

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