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Courses in this Department

Build a Safe Home Playground

Fences Make Good Neighbors

All About Arbors and Trellises

Deck Design

Green Grass the Professional Way

Mailbox Beautification: Landscaping to the Letter

How to Live with Wildlife

Termite Proof Landscaping

Ornamental Trees are Year-Round Performers

No More Deer

The Arrival of Jack Frost

Parameters of Proper Pruning


The Wheres and Why-Fors

Where you place a fence and why is largely dependent on where and how you live. There are three fundamental reasons for installing a fence.


The more stressful our lives are, the greater our need for a sense of privacy when we're at home. This is one of the most powerful and common reasons for building a fence. Building a fence between our house and the next doesn't mean we automatically dislike our neighbors, but that little symbolic distance can definitely help us relax and enjoy our personal patch of the great outdoors. In some parts of the country it's a neighborly tradition to discuss sharing the cost of having a boundary fence installed between their adjacent lot lines.

In densely-packed townhouse communities, a small fence often comes with purchase, installed by the builder to visually separate the bumper-to-bumper patios or decks. A sense of privacy can be enhanced by a short section of fence, a long low fence or an open grid fence. Sometimes, however, the need for improved privacy is strong enough to require something as tall and as solid as local rules allow.


A sturdy fence with a secure gate latch is the best protection for a child's backyard play area. If you own an outdoor dog that takes his Territorial Imperative duties seriously, the best protection for your mailman is also a substantial fence.

In thousands of communities a person's prized daffodils, dahlias or veggie patch can only be protected from the nocturnal nibblings of suburban wildlife by fencing. In most areas, if you install a backyard swimming pool, local codes require that you also build a fence for public safety reasons.

And, naturally, if you keep large animals your life is a series of fenced perimeters that need constant surveillance, to keep your ever-curious emus, llamas or horses at home.


Multi-family communities frequently hide the questionable charms of that big blue trash dumpster behind a plain board fence. Screening the parking area, compost pile, heat pump all qualify as time-honored ways of using fences for beautification.

But don't forget another reason for considering a fence: There's not a prettier neighborhood sight than a tumble of fragrant roses leaning over an ornamental fence that protects or hides nothing at all. Using a fence for ornamental purposes can enhance the charm and resale value of your home, which makes it a very cost-effective home improvement.

Let's begin our foray into fencing. This exercise will help you to plan a design and choose materials that meet your needs and add appeal to your landscape.

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