A Comprehensive Fence Project Planning Guide
Hello dear friends! Would you agree with me that the backyard is a wonderful place? It's a place we go to have good times with friends, to get exercise, to play, to relax, to meditate and gain perspective. It's your own little piece of God's beautiful green earth to call your own. If you are an outdoorsy person like me, you automatically gravitate to the backyard on your free time and enjoy every second of being there. You love taking your kids out there to explore and experience the wonders of the earth they live on too. The backyard should be a safe haven for those precious baby's of yours and what better way to make that a reality than to fence it in? We recently made the decision to fence in our backyard and I am so excited about it! Here's what the yard looks like now:
As we began the planning process, I've realized; there's more that goes into planning for a big DIY fencing project like this than I initially thought. We've learned a thing or two and I'd like to share that with you.
Right for You?
The first thing to decide in your planning is whether a fenced in yard is right for you? There are some definite benefits and drawbacks. In our case, it was a no brainer: we are raising a family, hopefully getting a dog, live on a busy road, and don't have many windows from the house facing the backyard. Your situation might be different, but here are some general benefits:
- Safety for children and animals especially when living on a busy road
- Relaxation for the Mom watching those kiddos
- Definition of your space
- Aesthetic value
- Keeping in pets
- Increases the value of your home
A couple of drawbacks do exist, however, in putting up a fence:
- Separation from neighbors
- Blocking of a view
- Costly to put up
For us, the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks, but take a look for yourself if you are considering a fenced in yard.
The next thing you will want to do is measure the perimeter of your yard. The best way I've found to do that is getting out a big (ours is 25 feet) tape measure and start going to town with it around your yard. Take a calculator or phone with you to tally up the total. You'll also need to decide how many gates you wish to add and where they will be located. We have about 320 feet of fencing to put up and want to have 3 gates.
Courtesy and Planning
We have a very sweet neighbor and I'm hoping to have a chat with her about our plans to put up a fence. I would hate for her to think that we want to block her out as she is very kind. So, I believe it is important to inform your neighbors of the project and why you are doing it, and be courteous.
- Don't plan a huge privacy fence that blocks them from a view.
- During construction, try to be aware of your noise levels and how much of a mess you are making.
- Be understanding of how the quality of your fencing materials affects their property value. A chain link fence in a high society neighborhood would probably not be acceptable.
When you are in the planning stage of putting in a backyard fence, you'll also want to check a few things like:
- Zoning and Regulations
- Confirm your property line
- Check for underground utilities
- Note any obstacles like landscaping, trees, rocks etc.
Choosing the Right Type of Fence
Ok, now you are ready to start the fun stuff of deciding on materials. There are tons of options based on budget, function, and style for your fence. I believe the first thing to consider is function because the type of fence you will end up with greatly depends upon this. Are you in need of privacy? Security? Containment of kids and animals? Or maybe just some really cool decoration? Let’s go over the type of fence for each of these functions:
For a privacy fence you are going to want height and full coverage. A six-foot fence is considered standard for this. Material and style have a wide range of options. Material choices include wood, vinyl, and composite. Styles will include anything that doesn't have space between pickets.
Much like a privacy fence, a fence put in for security is going to need to be tall, however not necessarily fully covered. This means material options like chain link and aluminum are feasible.
A well closed in area for animals and children is really important for safety, so you want to get the right kind of fencing to do the job. Any of the privacy fences would accomplish your goals above and beyond, but maybe the six feet and full coverage are a little more than you want or need. In that case a four-foot fence is adequate and a little spacing between pickets (for a wood fence) acceptable. Take the fence on the right in this photo for example. Don't you just love an adorable white picket fence?
There is something to be said for the difference in containing small pets and livestock. You wouldn't use a corral (the fence on the left of this picture) or split rail fence for dogs and children, but they are great for horses and cows.
Full height and sturdy build is not the most important thing here. If you are putting up a fence purely for decoration, you can feel free to choose something that is short and minimal is totally fine.
I've mentioned some of the various materials above, but why chose one over the other? What distinguishes them from each other? Well, for one, there is a huge difference in pricing. Looks and maintenance are some other variances.
- One of the most cost-effective choices in fencing material
- Huge variety in style
- Gives the ability to customize with stain and paint
- Includes some maintenance
- Can be used for security, privacy, decoration, and to keep in livestock
- Biggest range in cost from fairly cheap chain link fences and welded wire garden fences to elaborate decorative fences.
- Low maintenance
- Very strong and durable
- Can be used for security, around a pool, for the garden, and for decoration
- Slightly more expensive than wood
- Low maintenance
- Can be used for security, privacy, decoration, around pools, and to keep livestock in
- Easy to assemble and install
- Elegant and stately look, but costly for the budget
- Little to no maintenance
- Good for security, decorative, and around pools
- Look of wood (or even stone) with a wide variety of colors without the maintenance
- Sturdy and resistant to warping and cracking
Now, while the bulk of the materials needed are in the actual fence panels, there are a few more things to consider when estimating the cost of your fence. These things are posts, concrete, and screws. You will also have to decide the amount of gates.
You might be wondering what kind of fence we are going with. Well, we need to keep kids and animals safe, but we don't have a huge budget. We are going with a 4 foot wood picket fence for the areas near the front and sides and chain link in the back to save money.
Doing it DIY
A fence project is large and requires heavy, expensive equipment. The decision to DIY isn't one to be taken frivolously. That being said, the money you can save by doing it yourself is incredible. I have some experience in fencing projects growing up with horses and my Dad has the equipment and extra know-how, so we have the option of DIY.
One thing I learned in planning this project is that you can buy pre-made fence panels (which include the rails and pickets), or you can assemble the whole thing on your own. This is where DIY meets practicality. Yes, we would save some money by building it all on our own, but that would take tons of extra hours and sweat. So, we will be buying the panels and installing them.
Planning to fence in your backyard may seem like a huge undertaking and can be overwhelming when you consider all the options and possibilities, but I hope this information has narrowed it down and made your planning process a little easier. For another resource to check, look at The Home Depot's website. They have some really easy to use planning tools.
If you found this comprehensive fence project planning guide to be helpful and think your friends might too, feel free to share the image below!
Be sure to check back this summer for our finished fencing project and tutorial on how to build one. Happy home improving friends!