One common theme in house hunting is that moment when you finally find that perfect home only to discover it is missing that ever importance fence. And when it comes to the topic of how to fence a yard – whatever the reason, we are here to help.
But before we dive in, here is some good news. Whether you want to learn how to fence a yard or hire an experienced contractor, this guide will help you save money and indeed, hassle.
Why and How To Fence a Yard?
Before you dig in, we recommend you grab a notebook and pencil and start thinking through why you want a fence and what you hope to accomplish with it.
Whether it is for safety, security, establishing boundaries, adding privacy, or enhancing curb appeal, make a note of the reason.
Writing all this out upfront will help you when talking with fence suppliers, the city and utility offices, and even your neighbors or homeowner.
Decide right now to make new fence installation projects run smoothly, start to finish.
Know Your Boundary Lines
Knowing your property boundaries is a crucial step in how to fence a yard. The last thing you want is to guess at this, invest and install a fence and then find out your guestimates were wrong.
If your new home did not come with a property survey, we recommend you obtain a legal one. It will help you calculate precisely where your property begins and ends, not to mention who has the right to come onto your property and why.
Some of the top reasons to hire a surveyor to map out your property line include:
- Boundary lines. A boundary line certification ensures your property line is accurate.
- Rights-of-Way and Easements. Know if your neighbor will have the right to walk across your property with a survey.
- Ponds, Rivers, Creeks, and Other Surface Waters. What you do not see may haunt you later. Underground waters and wetlands are found by a professional.
- Joint Driveaways, Encroachments, and Overhangs. Learn if you have an obligation to support your neighbor’s driveway by maintaining your own.
- Water, Electric Gas, Poles, and Lines. While poles and above-ground wires are apparent, a professional surveyor will report what is below the ground.
- Cemeteries. While unlikely, there is that small chance of an old family burial ground in your backyard. Don’t get spooked!
- Zone Classifications. Is your home zoned for residential or even light industrial? A surveyor will report jurisdictions and classifications.
The key in this step is to accurately mark the area where the fence will go, putting stakes and string within your property.
Avoid setting your new fence at the edge of your property. It’s best to keep your fence at least 2”- 3” from your actual property line. Also, do not rely on the neighbors to tell you where the boundary lines are.
In our professional opinion, with installing a fence, you’ll want to hire a surveyor.
Determine Your Budget on How to Fence A Yard
With boundaries professionally marked, you ought to know how many feet you’ll need. The length of the fence is most likely the highest cost of this project.
If you are thinking of installing a wood fence, consider vinyl or even aluminum. They both last a lifetime, are maintenance-free and will add much more value to your home.
Choose Your Fencing Material
Excellent; your budget is all set! Well done. Now it’s time to make a decision on what fence material you want. Today, fences types come in a large variety of materials. Determining how to fence a yard with the right kind of fence and within your budget is smart.
Let’s talk about the various types of fences available.
- Vinyl fences are the most popular maintenance-free fence. Vinyl fences such as Bufftech, manufactured by CertainTeed are trusted, durable, last a lifetime, come in a variety of color and texture options, and are super easy to keep clean. Vinyl fences are an excellent option for privacy too. Most vinyl fences come with a transferable lifetime limited warranty which covers warranted repair and replacement cost for five years after installation by a professional.
- Aluminum Fences come in a wide variety of designs and colors to suit your needs. They’re durable, require little maintenance, are corrosion and rust-resistant, work on slopes, and offer a long lifespan. Aluminum fences add style and security to your home. They are highly customizable and come with an array of options. You can even get “screwless in appearance” rails for added maximum security.
- Steel fences are very durable and strong. Many, like the Montage line from Ameristar, feature a galvanized steel framework and e-coat surface protection. Steel fences offer excellent aesthetics for less cost than wrought iron and are easy to install for most DIY’ers. Steel fences make an excellent addition to your homes yard.
- Simulated stone fences are made from polyethylene, reinforced with galvanized steel. Simtek is a trendy brand. Their fences offer the look and feel of real granite, without the high cost. They’re also durable, add superior style and the best in privacy to any yard. For a fence that won’t fade, warp, or crack in the elements, simulate stone may be the best choice.
Select Solid Fence Hinges and Latches
Installing a fence by yourself is a tall task. When it comes to gates, don’t skimp on hardware, in particular hinges and latches. Choose hinges that can handle the weight of the gate you choose.
If the hinges you use are too small, they won’t be able to support the gate. The right hinges will prevent wind and rain damage and protect your investment. Choose the right hinges and latches to keep up with the safety and security of your fence.
Hinges get the most wear and tear, so if you’re looking to cut costs, this isn’t where to do it.
Latches also come in a variety of quality and sizes, from standard to deluxe. Choose a latch based on the fence material/grade and the strength of the security you need. If you’re a DIY’er, a fence supply company, such as ours, will help you make all the right decisions.
Check Fencing Regulations In Your Town
Now that you have laid out the core materials, the next step of how to fence a yard is checking your local fencing regulations. Where you live determines the fencing codes, and there’s a good chance that your city or neighborhood requires permits.
Chances are you’ll be required to have a site plan, including the size and shape of your lot, your address, identification of alleys, and the size of your home.
You’ll also have to provide details of the fence you desire to install and even the distance between your fence and nearby property lines.
As an example, if you live in St. Louis, the St. Louis Department of Public Safety Building Division has specific guidelines for drawing residential fence plans that include:
- The fence should not exceed 42″ in the front yard and no higher than 6′ in the back or side yard
- Bottom concrete footings on fences up to 6′ tall should be at last 30″ below grade and 36″ below grade for fences 6′-10’ tall. Fences above 6’ high require a variance.
May sound picky, but if you live in a homeowner’s association neighborhood or even a historic district, the rules are likely even more strict.
To learn what restrictions you must follow, contact your community-building officials as not following these codes might result in the complete removal of your fence.
Save yourself the hassle by learning and understanding the codes before beginning the project.
Next Contact Utility Companies
Contacting your utility company is the next step. They can help you locate your utility lines, which is a vital step. Think about it. You don’t want to dig and hit an underground pipe and/or wire. Whether a gas main, sewer, freshwater, or even power cables that cross your property, be smart.
A professional utility locator using map and topography knowledge of the area will pinpoint the exact locations of underground pipes, electric lines, gas lines, and cable lines.
Digging near gas and power lines can cause power outages and thousands of dollars in repairs and fees.
Most professionals will come out to your property and mark the location of these lines for you. When planning on digging your fence posts, it’s a good rule of thumb to place them at least 18 inches away from any pipes or lines under the ground, giving you room to avoid hitting a utility line.
It’s easy to get started at talking with a utility company, call 8-1-1 from any phone. In Missouri, call 1-800-DIG-RITE to get your public utilities marked. In Illinois, call JULIE at 1-800-892-0123.
Communicate With Your Neighbors
One of the final steps in how to fence a yard is to take the time to communicate with your neighbors about it.
Speaking with your neighbors about installing your fence ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to boundary lines. If there is any debate on where the lines are, now is the time to dispute it.
Luckily, with the help of a land surveyor, this is a quickly resolved dispute. Another thing to consider is that some people are willing to split the cost of a fence that divides two yards and gives privacy to both. Not many neighbors will offer payment towards the fence, but if they’d like a say in any part of the design, it’s worth the suggestion.
Speaking with your neighbor about your fence project is also the polite thing to do. It helps eliminate any problems down the road.
Time To Purchase Materials and Install
Now that you’ve done all your homework from setting a budget decided on a type of fence, have your boundaries in order, contacted your utility company and spoken to your neighbors, its time to purchase materials.
Did you know that Maintenance-Free Outdoor Solutions is the #1 DIY fence supplier in St. Louis? It’s true. Professional contractors, busy handymen, and DIY homeowners rely on us every day for their fence supply needs. We have every type of maintenance-free fence product available, including a wide variety of hinges and hatches too.
Before you seek a consult from a home improvement employee that has little experience in fencing, consider our knowledge and experience in fencing. A new fence is an investment, and you’ll want to make sure you do this right.
We carry the best in fencing brands, including CertainTeed’s Buffteh, D&D Technologies, Elite Aluminum Fence Products, EverNew, and simulated stone and simulated wood fences. And we’re conveniently located in Arnold MO.
Read through our Fence Installation Tips for Do-It-Yourselfers before you get started and if you decide installing a fence on your own is just too much, we understand and offer free in-home estimates.
So, Do You Know How to Fence a Yard?
From this guide on how to fence a yard, you should be better equipped to take on the challenge. And you should experience a smoother installation knowing you’re covering every step along the way.
Whoever you decide to install your new fence, know you can rely on us to help you. We welcome a conversation and offer a free consultation!
Not yet decided on which fence is best for your home?
Download this free fence guide: