Tips For Fence Installation and Maintenance

Fences provide privacy, help keep pets and children safe, define property lines, and ward off predators. Some are costly to install, however.

Fence Installation

To save on materials and installation costs, plan. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations on fencing contractors and research them online. Consider calling a utility locator to find out the location of underground utilities before construction starts.

Fences are one of the most common exterior home improvements. They can be fairly inexpensive to build and provide a good barrier between the backyard and other properties or neighbors. They can also be built in a wide variety of designs, ranging from traditional wood construction to more luxurious design options like metal rails or pickets. Regardless of your preferred style, it’s important to choose a contractor with experience in fence installation so that you get the best results and a safe and durable product.

Whether you are building a new fence or replacing an existing one, you will need to decide whether to hire a professional or do it yourself (DIY). For most homeowners, DIY-ing the project can save money and provides more flexibility in choosing materials and styles than may be available through a company. It’s important to take a few factors into consideration when considering DIY, including cost, time available for the project, and experience with construction techniques.

When deciding to build your own fence, you will need to purchase materials and tools and dig holes for the posts. It’s a good idea to install gravel at the base of each hole to help drain water away during inclement weather. Pea-sized landscaping gravel, often simply called “pea gravel,” is usually the most affordable option.

Once the posts are in place, it’s a matter of installing and seating fence panels or planks. It’s a good idea to use a carpenter’s level to check each panel or board for plumb before it is seated in the post.

Another option is a split-rail fence, which uses long timber rails suspended between large posts. This type of fence is ideal for farmland and large property boundaries. It requires less fencing material than a tightly packed picket fence, and it’s easier to maintain.


The material you choose for your fence will play a significant role in its overall appearance and cost. There are a variety of natural and synthetic materials to consider, each with their own unique advantages and drawbacks. It is also important to consider the amount of maintenance each type will require.

For instance, natural wood requires a significant amount of upkeep, requiring repainting or refinishing every few years to maintain its beautiful appearance. Wrought iron is another traditional option, offering a more elegant look that can be topped with decorative finials. It is also an extremely durable fencing material. However, it can be expensive compared to other metal options.

Treated woods, on the other hand, are a more economical choice that can be used in any style of fence. They are treated with chemicals or pressure to provide increased resistance against harmful elements such as insects and moisture. This makes them a good choice for residential fences.

Concrete, brick and stone are other common materials that can be used in the construction of a fence. While these types are very sturdy, they can be quite expensive compared to other fencing materials. It is not uncommon for homeowners to combine masonry with other types of fencing, especially for budget reasons.

When installing a wooden fence, it is important to use properly sized posts. Using a post hole digger, dig holes that are about twice the diameter of the post and one-third to one-half of its height. This will help ensure that the posts are securely seated and have enough stability once filled with gravel. Before placing the posts in the ground, add a few inches of pea-sized gravel to each hole. This will allow water and debris to drain away from the post, which will extend its life.


Fences add a measure of privacy to outdoor spaces, keeping pets and children inside yards and out of trouble. They can also hide eyesores, like dilapidated structures or messy neighbors’ yards. However, not all fences are created equal when it comes to privacy. According to The Spruce, a homeowner needs to do some research before starting any fence project. They need to check their local building codes, property lines, and speak to neighbors about what they want their fence to accomplish.

The primary purpose of any privacy fence is to block the view of the yard from passersby and outsiders, so it must be solidly constructed with no openings. It should be tall enough that people cannot peek from their upstairs windows. It may also help to plant trees and shrubs along the perimeter of a backyard, such as lilac or cypresses, for added privacy.

If a homeowner wants their fence to be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional, they can choose from a variety of styles and materials. For instance, a wood privacy fence is more affordable than vinyl or metal options, and it can be finished with paint or stain. However, it is important to keep in mind that the wood will deteriorate faster than other materials in harsh climates with heavy wind and snow.

For homeowners who need a little bit of privacy, they can opt for a vinyl privacy fence, which provides good visibility and requires minimal yearly maintenance. It will, however, cost more per foot than other privacy options and is not as durable in tough climates. It is a good idea for homeowners to consult with fencing contractors about the style and size they need to ensure their privacy goals are met.


Fencing can be a great deterrent for burglars because it makes it harder to enter your property undetected and carry away anything valuable. In addition, it makes escaping much more difficult as well. The best type of fence for security purposes is one that provides clear visibility, so you can see anyone trying to break in. Open, see-through fencing like wire mesh or welded wire works well for this purpose. Solid fences that block views are not ideal as they provide easy hiding places for burglars and vandals.

To prevent intruders from scaling your fence, it helps if you choose a fence material that is either very tall or difficult to scale. Steel palisade fence, for example, with its vertical pales is a formidable visual deterrent and is difficult to climb or cut through with common tools. It also combines the strength of high-tensile steel with a modular design that allows for the attachment of security cabling and lines for surveillance equipment.

Other fencing materials that are good for preventing climbing and scalability include chain link, which has the benefit of being visible through the gaps between its bars, and razor wire or anti-climb spikes at the top of your fence. You can also make your fence more secure by securing it in concrete.

To ensure your fence installation is secure, it’s a good idea to check with your local government to determine the parameters that are allowed in your neighborhood for the height of your fence and its location. It’s also a good idea to get a plat, which is a scale map of your neighborhood that shows property boundaries, so you know exactly where your fence will go. This will avoid costly disputes with your neighbors and legal issues if you overstep your property line.


After you’ve paid for a new fence installation, it is important to perform routine maintenance. This will help your fence last a couple of decades. A few hours of work can prevent costly repairs down the road. First, inspect your fence for loose pickets, broken or rotten boards and any other structural problems. You should also tighten loose screws or nails. If you have a metal fence, check for signs of rust. A bit of rust may not be a big deal, but it’s important to check every year for signs of corrosion or other problems.

Wood fences need to be re-stained periodically to keep them looking their best. A good stain will protect the wood from moisture, which can cause rot and other problems. When choosing a stain, it is important to pick one that contains a mildewcide and a water-repellent. This will help protect your fence from algae and other growths that can cause damage.

A regular walk along the fence line will allow you to see any issues that need to be addressed. This will include dirt build-up, pool or lawn chemicals residue, mold, mildew and debris from trees. You can also use this time to check for sagging sections or other areas of concern. It is also important to trim any plants that are getting too close to the wall. This will reduce the amount of pressure on the fence and reduce the risk of insect infestations. Finally, you should re-apply a wood preservative if your fence is not pressure treated, which will help extend the life of your fence. This will prevent the wood from discoloring to a weathered gray color.