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GARDEN FENCES

The Robert Frost poem "Mending Wall" includes this famous line:

'Good fences make good neighbors.' 

It would probably depend on the type of fence and its exact location.


It's mandatory to have a good fence around a swimming pool for safety and liability concerns, and the tasteful use of split-rail fencing can really enhance and define an ornamental landscape planting. 
           
The current 'deer invasion' taking place in our suburbs prevents most gardeners from having much success without using deer fencing or a physical barrier of some sort, while most home gardens have been nibbled and browsed by rabbits, raccoons and other wild animals for decades.
 

FENCE CONSTRUCTION

   
Most lumber yards and home centers will provide detailed construction details for building fences. Below are some fence building basics:

  • Before digging: Make sure you know where your buried utilities are located. In Pennsylvania you need to contact the Pennsylvania One Call System at 1-800-248-1786 
  • Ground contact: Be sure to use wood that's resistant to decay for posts and any other parts in contact with the soil. 
  • Two important tools: 1) You'll need a quality set of "post hole diggers" to dig your holes. 2) One end of a solid steel "digging bar" will help break through rocks, while the other end is later used to tamp soil around the post. Note: Strong shoulder muscles help when using these tools! 
  • Post holes: The old rule of thumb is that for every foot of fence height above the ground, the post should be buried 6-inches below the ground (Example: a 4-foot tall fence has post holes 2-feet deep). 
  • Plumb & straight: As a guide, use a tightly stretched mason's line between two stakes to keep the fence straight during construction. A level should be repeatedly placed on several sides of the post while it is being set to make sure it's plumb. 
  • Soil or concrete: Farmers firmly tamp soil around their fence posts to keep them secure - Locust posts are commonly used on SW Pennsylvania farms due to their natural decay resistance. Other fence construction calls for concrete around the base of the post for added strength. Check your fence supplier's recommendations.

 

 

LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS

   
Two very important considerations prior to construction:

1. Know exactly where your property line is with a survey

2. Check local zoning ordinances to find out what types, heights and locations of fences are permitted and if you need a building permit to install a fence

While talking with homeowners over past decades, we've learned of more long-running neighbor disputes due to property line issues than any other single factor. Our recommendation is to always speak with a neighbor first before proceeding with any sort of work close to a shared property line: 

20 minutes of conversation can save you decades of animosity and 'border wars!'

Building a fence over your property line onto a neighboring property can have strong legal ramifications as well, so be sure you build your fence on your own property. Some states have 'adverse possession' laws that allow property ownership to actually change hands if the adverse use goes on for a set period of time, often 21-years. The same sort of rules apply to driveways. (For more information, check your State and local laws concerning "adverse possession")  


While this type of stockade fence is permitted in some municipalities it's forbidden in others. Check your local ordinances and obtain a Building Permit if necessary.

  
Most municipalities have clearly defined limitations on fence height, location and construction. While a solid stockade fence might be allowed in one township, another township might require the fence to be more "open" with alternating open spaces and solid boards. Some ordinances might call for setting the fence back from the property line. In most cases you'll need a Building Permit prior to constructing your fence. 

 

TYPES OF FENCES

   
 
 Wood fencing: 
  • Split rail (2-rail or 3-rail)
  • Stockade fence
  • Board-on-board
  • Louvered
  • Picket fence
  • Lattice

   Metal fencing: 

  • Chain link or cyclone fence
  • Ornate wrought iron
  • Aluminum fence
  • Barbed wire
  • Chicken wire
  • Electric fence
  • Wire fences
  • Deer fencing (10-feet tall is usually recommended)

brown chain link fence
Brown chain link fence

   Other types of fences:

  • Vinyl fence
  • Plastic warning barrier

vinyl fence
Vinyl fence
  

MORE

cleaning fences

patios in the backyard

swimming pools

        


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