There are a wide variety of material choices for residential fences. Your climate, the style of your home and the purpose of the fence will all play a role in selecting the best material. Whether you choose wood, vinyl, wrought iron or another fencing material, you’ll want to understand the basics of fence installation so you can ensure it is designed and built correctly. With quality materials and proper construction your new fence will last for years to come.
If the goal is to block sight lines, you need solid fencing, which generally means it’ll have tightly spaced vertical boards, pickets (pointed stakes), or framed panels to prevent you from seeing out and others from seeing in. It should be at least 6 feet tall so most people won’t see over it—taller if the neighbor’s teenagers are on the basketball team. If a little visibility is okay, then the pickets can have spaces between them, or you can use a lattice or decorative fence pattern.
To keep people out, you’ll again want a fence that’s 6 feet tall or higher to hinder anyone from simply hopping over it. Pickets or other spiky tops help to deter climbers—especially if the fence has a smooth outer face, so there’s no place to step. For fences with horizontal rails on one side and vertical pickets on the other—in other words, for most fences—that means facing the pickets out.
If the goal is to establish property lines, add a structural element to the landscape or boost curb appeal, your fence doesn’t need to be nearly as large or obtrusive. You can choose one that’s just two to four feet high, and with spaced pickets, latticework, or all sorts of ornamental designs that don’t block the view, but enhance it. Or you can go totally simple, with a rail fence (just posts and two or three horizontal members) like the ones used on horse farms.
To create a dog run, enclose a pool area, or deter wildlife from trespassing on your property—without changing the view—the most durable option is a wire fence, such as chain link. At their most economical, these consist of galvanized metal mesh, but adding a black or green vinyl coating helps to make the fence almost disappear from view. Or, for an even lower-cost fence, you can use a metal or plastic mesh hung on metal posts or stakes.