A Good Fence

When it's time to invest in a fence, make your decison carefully.

By FamilyTime


“Good fences make good neighbors,” wrote Robert Frost in his poem Mending Walls. He was musing on the act of fencing things in or out, whether with an actual wall or otherwise.

These days most of us neither fence anyone or anything in or out when we build a fence, but instead are making a statement about how our yard is laid out and looks. If you are in the market for a fence, do your homework first.

Know the Reason

Since fences in suburbia are rarely needed to demark property lines or keep a herd of cows from grazing in your pasture, they usually are constructed for design purposes.

We may also build a fence to enclose a pool (most communities require it) or to keep our dog contained. Or we may erect it for privacy, to surround a garden, border a walkway, or simply to look pretty with a vine climbing up and over it.

Choose the Material

Depending on your budget and what you need the fence for, you have a number of options. The least expensive usually are chain link fences, which are durable and good for utilitarian reasons, such as penning a dog or surrounding a garden. But these structures are not especially pretty.

Wrought iron fences are extremely long-lasting, attractive, and are never cheap. They tend to look formal and work in yards that demand their type of elegance.

Wooden fences are charming and durable. They tend to be more expensive than chain link and also require some maintenance, such as staining, weather proofing, or painting.

Choices for wooden fences generally are picket, stockade, privacy fences and post and rail.

There also are vinyl fences made to look like white painted wooden fences. These are less costly than wood and require very little upkeep. Unless you are very close to them, they are virtually indistinguishable from wood. They are slick and get hot, and so may not be the best choice for training vines.

Choose the Contractor

Installing fences is expensive. Most fencing contractors do nothing else and the good ones know a lot about the job.

Finding a good, honest fencing contractor is key. Ask neighbors, friends and the guys at the local hardware store. Check with the Chamber of Commerce and Internet sites that rate such services.

Get at least three estimates and when you select your fencer, ask him a lot of questions. Is he insured and licensed? Can he get the necessary permits? Does he understand your setbacks?

Ask how long the type of fence you want will last, what maintenance is needed, how long it will take to install, and if he has a warranty for materials (you don’t want wood to split or the wire to sag).

Finally, don’t forget to buy a gate and make sure it’s latch is one you are comfortable using. A fence is not much good if you can’t access the fenced in property!