How to Choose the Right Fence for Your Yard

Classic fence

Wood, metal, and vinyl, oh my! With so many different types of fencing styles and materials, how do you choose the right fence for your yard?

It’s easy to be confused by all the options when planning to build a new fence. We’ll talk about the different things to consider when choosing the right fence for your yard.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Come Up With a Budget

Before you do anything else, you want to set your budget. Fencing can get quite pricey, so your budget could end up being the ultimate deciding factor. First, if you don’t already have the measurements of your yard, you will need to get those so you can calculate the amount of fencing you will need. Then compare the cost of different types of fencing materials.

Keep in mind that when it comes to fences, the cheapest is not always the best. The typical cost of a fence ranges from $1,330 to $5,550, with an average of $3,440.

Pro Tip: It’s best to get at least three different estimates from three different fencing companies to compare prices and value. Generally, wire fence is the least expensive option while wrought iron is the most expensive, with wood and vinyl in the middle range.

Know the Purpose

One of the most important factors to consider is the reason you are installing a fence. Wrought iron or aluminum are wonderful options for a fence intended to add a decorative element but aren’t very good options for privacy. Knowing the purpose of your fence will guide you to the right fence type, material, and height.

If You Have Pets

If you have dogs, don’t forget to take into account their tendencies.

  • Does your dog like to dig?
  • Do they jump and how high can they jump? 
  • Is it a big or small dog?
  • Does your dog like to bark at passing cars or pedestrians?

Best Pet Fences: Vinyl, chain-link, wood, and aluminum fences are some great options for keeping your pets safely in your yard.

If You Want Privacy

Here are something to consider if you want backyard privacy:

  • Choose a tall fence with little to no space between the boards
  • An 8-foot-tall fence is ideal for privacy, but many municipalities may restrict you to a 6-foot fence. Be sure to check for any city ordinances that may restrict fence height. 
  • Add a few feet of trellis across the top of the fence. Adding foliage to the trellis will increase your privacy
  • A stair-step design can be a great option if you want privacy in specific areas like around a hot tub, but you also have a view you don’t want to obstruct. 
  • Consider going gateless and install several offset fences to allow for a path while still blocking the street view.

Best Privacy Fences: Vinyl, wood, bamboo, brick, and shrubs are great ways to increase privacy in your backyard.

If You Want Security

If you’re looking for protection, here are a few things to consider:

  • Look for a tall, sturdy fence with a lockable gate for a more secure yard. 
  • Put horizontal rails on the inside to deter anyone on the outside from climbing the fence.

Best Security Fences: Steel, iron, aluminum, and chain-link fencing can be good options for securing your property.

If You Want Safety

Safety is a priority if you have children. Here are some things to think about:

  • Need a way to keep mischievous children inside your yard? Wood fences can splinter and chain-link fences have sharp edges. The safest material if you have young children is vinyl.
  • For a pool fence, chain-link, iron, or aluminum can safely keep kids out of the pool area while also keeping the sight lines open. 

Best Safety Fences: Vinyl, aluminum, iron, and chain-link fences are all great safety fencing materials.

If You Want Boundaries

  • If you are looking for a fence to mark property lines, any type of fence will work, but wood and vinyl are two of the most popular types of fencing. Chain-link fences are the most budget-friendly and are very easy to install. 

Best Boundary Fences: Wood, steel, iron, aluminum, vinyl, stone, and chain-link will all do the trick to clearly define property lines.

If You Want to Increase Curb Appeal and Property Value

Whether you choose to install a classic white picket fence or a stylish ornamental fence, either will add both curb appeal and value to your home.

  • Be sure to choose a fence design that will match the look of your home and neighborhood.

Best Curb Appeal Fences: Steel, iron, aluminum, wood, vinyl, or stone will add to the aesthetics of your property as well as its value. 

If You Want to Guard Against Weeds and Wind

Want to keep your edging and weeding to a minimum? Fencing can help keep weeds from encroaching on your property and wind from blowing through your yard.

  • Choose a fence without gaps and one that touches the ground to help keep weeds out of your yard.
  • A solid fence such as vinyl or wood will help shield your more delicate flowers from the harsh winds.

Best Landscape Protection Fences: Vinyl, wood, iron, and stone are great options to provide a layer of protection for your landscaping.

If You Want a Barrier for Sights and Sounds

Keep your noise and view contained in your yard and extraneous sights and sounds out of your yard.

  • Try a tall, solid wood or vinyl fence to block unsightly areas beyond your yard, like a neighbor’s overgrown grass.
  • Consider a foam-filled aluminum fence or adding shrubs or vines along your fence to muffle noisy neighbors or busy streets.

Best Barrier Fences: Vinyl, aluminum, wood, shrubs, and stone will shield both eyes and ears from unsightly views or loud roadways.

Stick to Your Style

Choose a fence style that works well in your neighborhood and home. Take note of the style, types, and heights of your neighbors’ fences. Take into consideration the architectural style of your home and landscaping. There should be a design connection between your home and your fence.

Look for a material and style that will match the theme of your property. For instance, wood is a great option for a more country-style feel, or both wood and vinyl work great for a contemporary ranch home. Older homes with classic architecture work well with brick or ornamental metal fences, and black rail fencing is a great option for an urban and sophisticated style.

Know Your Homeowner’s Association/City Ordinances

Be sure you consult your HOA for any restrictions your neighborhood may have on the kind of fence, the material, the color, or even the height. Also, check for any city ordinances that may restrict fence type or height. Don’t forget to get a permit before you start doing any building.

When in doubt, remember the three R’s: 

  • Restrictions 
  • Regulations
  • Requirements

Plan for Maintenance

Some fences require very little to no maintenance, while other fences will require regular upkeep. A well-maintained fence will be better equipped to stand the test of time, so be sure to plan accordingly in order to get the most bang for your buck. 

Wood fence: Needs to be sealed and painted every few years or it will decay. 

Vinyl fence: Generally are considered maintenance-free but may need to be sprayed down periodically with a garden hose otherwise dirt buildup could eventually impact the integrity of the fence.

Chain-link fence: A great low-maintenance and budget-friendly option. Be sure to remove any unwanted vines or flowers as they can quickly overtake and even displace your fence.

All fences: Inspect yearly so any necessary repairs remain small repairs without growing into a bigger and more costly issue.  

Keep Your Climate in Mind

Whether you live somewhere that tends to have harsh winters or somewhere with unrelenting summer heat, either can impact how your fence will hold up in extreme weather conditions. Naturally, certain types of fences do better in a specific climate than others.

Vinyl

Vinyl is a great option for a place like the Sunshine State that sees a lot of sun as well as rain. It won’t rot due to excessive moisture and it’s engineered to withstand harsh weather. Overall, it’s a great option for any climate as it’s built to resist damage that can be caused by a multitude of extreme weather conditions.

  • Heat/UV resistant
  • Wind resistant
  • Moisture resistant

Wood

There is a reason why wood has long been the go-to option for fences. When built well and well maintained, they can stand up to what Mother Nature throws at them. Get pressure-treated wood or seal it with a moisture-resistant sealant to stave off any rot from developing.

  • Sturdy
  • Wind resistant

Aluminum

For homeowners wanting the beauty of wrought iron, aluminum is a wonderful choice. It’s a fraction of the cost and it won’t rust. Get a powder-coated aluminum fence to make it even more durable.

  • Durable
  • Moisture resistant
  • Will withstand harsh weather

Wrought Iron

Wrought iron fences certainly stand the test of time and add a certain kind of old-time beauty to your property. Apply car wax or any other type of water repellent to protect your fence from moisture damage.

  • Heavy
  • Durable
  • Wind resistant

Pick the Best Materials

This is probably the most challenging but important decision you will make when deciding what type of fence is right for you.

Wood Fence

While a wooden fence may have the lowest upfront purchase price, with the maintenance cost, it could end up costing more over time than other fence types.

Pros:

  • Easy to install for DIY project
  • Classic, natural look
  • A green/sustainable material
  • Affordable
  • Great for privacy 

Cons:

  • Requires regular restaining or painting
  • Relatively short lifespan of 10-20 years

Aluminum Fence

An aluminum fence may not be ideal for privacy, but it is an affordable alternative to get the upscale look of a wrought iron fence without the hefty price tag.

Pros:

  • Keeps kids and pets within the yard
  • Keeps intruders out
  • Low maintenance
  • Budget-friendly alternative to wrought iron

Cons:

  • Provides little privacy

Vinyl Fence

A vinyl fence has become a popular choice in recent years due to its versatility and virtually no maintenance needs.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance
  • Endless styles and colors for customization
  • Can mimic most other common fencing material
  • Does not rust or rot

Cons:

  • High upfront costs
  • May warp or crack in extreme temperatures
  • May crack or break if too much pressure is applied

Wrought-Iron Fence

Looking for an old-world look for your garden? A wrought iron fence adds elegance and sophistication.

Pros:

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Traditional look
  • Unique and classy
  • Low maintenance

Cons:

  • Prone to rust
  • Expensive
  • Low privacy

Pro Tip: If you want the look without the cost or rust, consider aluminum or galvanized steel.

Chain-link fence

While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, it is one of the most economical and long-lasting fencing options. 

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Maintenance free
  • Graffiti resistant
  • Long-lasting

Cons:

  • Low security
  • Low privacy
  • Utilitarian or industrialized look

FAQ About Choosing the Right Fence

Will I need a permit?

Most areas will require you to get a permit before you begin building, even if you are replacing an existing fence. This process generally takes two to three weeks but can vary widely. When filing for a permit some cities may require you to submit a permission letter from your HOA with the application. Most contractors will handle the permit, but you always want to verify that with the company you hire.

Are there restrictions on fence heights or types?

You will need to check with your local municipality and HOA. Either may restrict height or types, or maybe even color, depending on your neighborhood. If you live in a historical area, there may be very strict guidelines for your fence.

Is it necessary to talk to neighbors first before installing my fence?

It is considered good neighbor etiquette to talk to your neighbors before beginning a fencing project. After all, since the look of their property also will be changing, it is the neighborly thing to give them a heads-up. And you never know, they may even offer to chip in for the portion they share with you.

Are You Ready to Install Your Dream Fence?

Whether you choose to go for the classic white picket fence or go with more modern metal, consider all your options and pick the best fence design for you. A fence is an expensive, long-term investment.

If you’ve decided on the right fence for your property and need help with installation, find a fencing company in your area.

Main photo credit: Wikimedia | TriviaKing

Amy Adams

Amy Adams

Amy is a freelance writer and former newspaper journalist. She grew up in Kansas but has been living in Florida for the past 15 years and has no intentions of ever moving back!