A new fence in the backyard is much more than just a pile of wood stuck in the ground. It can improve a home’s aesthetic, ramp up privacy, add a new layer of security for the homeowner, and even benefit pets by allowing them to roam off-leash. There’s undoubtedly more than meets the eye when it comes to the functionality of a fence, and the same is true of the process for backyard fence installation.

From selecting the size and type to how much to spend and more, homeowners must make many hard decisions along the way. Fortunately for anyone interested in adding a fence to their backyard, we’ve done the research and have all the information you need to get started. Here’s our list of 10 things to know before installing a backyard fence.

Why do you want a fence?

We mentioned a few of the most popular reasons above—looks, privacy, security, and for pets—but it’s a good idea to decide your why before you get too deep into the backyard fence installation process. If you’ve done any research at all, you know that adding a fence can be costly, so whatever your reason, you should always make sure it’s worth it to you.

How much can you spend?

As with a lot of home improvement projects, budget is the name of the game. Before you get your heart set on any specifics for your next fence, it’s best to set a budget to shoot for. By determining your budget upfront, that detail can help you finalize other aspects of the project, like….

What type of fence do you want?

Fences come in assorted materials, sizes, and styles, from wood to vinyl to chain link and even wrought iron. Each of these options has its own pros and cons, which should line up with your purpose for getting a fence in the first place. For example, if you’re hoping to make your yard a little more private, a wrought iron fence with pickets spaced 4 inches apart won’t do much good. Similarly, a 3-foot-high fence may not be tall enough to keep a dog from leaping it and escaping the yard. 

What is the upkeep for the fence you want?

One of the most significant factors that plays into your backyard fence installation may be the upkeep of the type of fence you select. In warm, wet climates, wood fences are subject to splinter and rot—that means that to avoid continual maintenance, you should elect to go with a vinyl fence. On the flip side, homeowners in cool climates are more likely to opt for metal or wood fences that can withstand bitterly cold temperatures. Beyond just keeping the fence in good physical condition, you should also be aware of how often you’ll have to clean the fence and paint/stain it to keep it looking pristine. 

Are there any zoning or homeowner’s association (HOA) requirements?

If your home is out in the country, you probably won’t have much to worry about with this one; but if you live in a neighborhood, especially one with an HOA, take note. There’s a chance that the size/type/color of fence you want will be predetermined by either a zoning or your HOA’s CC&Rs. For example, some communities will only allow wooden privacy fences, while others insist on wrought iron to keep the airiness of the backyard present. In any event, before you make any purchases for your backyard fence installation, be sure to do your due diligence. You may even have to make a formal request to the HOA and receive approval prior to getting started.

Do you have a survey and/or know where the property line is?

Researching the relevant neighborhood or community restrictions on fence types is a big part of your backyard fence installation homework, but it’s not the only important thing to know in advance. Before beginning any fence project, you must know exactly where your property line starts and ends. The best way to accomplish this is by reviewing a copy of your property’s survey. If you don’t have your survey, there may be one on file that you can access by calling your local property records department. Worst case scenario, you’ll have to pay to have a new one completed.

Have you talked to your neighbors?

While there are no official rules in place that say you must inform your neighbors about a backyard fence installation, it’s common courtesy to do so since the installation process could inconvenience them. If you’re lucky, your neighbors may also be interested in a fence, which means you may be able to split part of the cost, saving both of you money.

What’s your plan for landscaping?

At the start of your backyard fence installation, you’ll need to game plan around any existing landscaping that might include the removal of plants, hedges, or trees. A lot of homeowners also elect to add new landscaping while they’re already sprucing up the yard, so be sure to think that through.

Where will the entrance/exit be?

For safety reasons, you should always have at least one gated entrance/exit with your backyard fence. These gates are typically near where the fence meets your home, but they can also be along the back property line. Gates also provide an easy way for you to access the backyard from outside the home, like if you’re bringing the lawnmower around to cut the grass. Deciding on the number and type of gates that you want can impact your total cost.

Will you be using a professional?

The last thing you’ll want to know for your backyard fence installation is if you intend to do the job yourself. Installing a fence can be long, grueling, back-breaking work, and many homeowners find it to be outside their do-it-yourself comfort zone. If you choose to hire a professional fence company, they can also help you with just about all the points we described above, including showing you the different types of fencing available and ensuring the fence is installed on or within your property’s boundaries. 

Ready to get started on your backyard fence installation?

Whether you intend to handle the job yourself or contract it out, you’ll need to do some legwork before starting down the path toward backyard fence installation. If you do end up handling installation, don’t forget to call for utility marking prior to digging for posts. The last thing you want to do is sever a utility line that cuts the power for the entire street. But by reviewing these questions in advance and going into the project fully prepared, your fence should add a little to your resale value and last for years to come.

Editorial Contributors
Elisabeth Beauchamp

Elisabeth Beauchamp

Senior Staff Writer

Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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