What you need to know before fencing in a yard


Fencing in a yard seems like a simple project, right? Just hammer in a few posts, attach your fencing, and there you go. Well, that’s one way of doing it … but it’s not the smartest.

Careful planning will save you tons of time, money and hassle once you actually install your deer fence. I talked with Joe Raboine, Director of Belgard Residential Hardscapes, about what you must research before fencing in your yard, and a few things to watch out for.

Property line

Determine your exact property line so you don’t accidentally install the fence on your next door neighbor’s turf. Refer to the plat map (if it’s less than 5 years old) or hire a surveyor. Local law might specify an additional setback of several inches to one foot.

Ground condition

Joe comments, “Soil can play a big part in your fence planning. With new construction, you want to make sure the soil has settled. Otherwise, it should be thoroughly compacted.

“Beyond that, depending on the region of the country, you may need to reinforce the fenceposts. If the soil is very solid, like a heavy clay, often you can just pack it around the posts. But when it’s really sandy, you may have to use Sonotubes ™ filled with concrete to keep the sand from collapsing while you prepare to set the posts.

“In some areas, you’ll run into bedrock or boulders, which may require drilling or bringing in special equipment. When you get fencing quotes, discuss how that’s going to be handled.”


Modern fencing options include natural wood, composite, vinyl, aluminum, steel, chain link, wrought iron and bamboo. (Read more about fence materials here.)

Four essential factors will help narrow your choice:

1. Purpose: privacy, secure children’s play area, keeping animals in (or out), etc.

2. Budget

3. Taste and style

4. Amount of maintenance you’re willing to put into the finished product: eg. painting a wood fence.


Plan a fence that will work with your landscape and hardscape (existing or future). Consider whether you’d like to bring in heavy equipment, perhaps to pour a concrete patio. That should obviously be done before you have the fence installed.

Talk with your lawn sprinkler company to decide whether equipment will have to be repositioned. You do not want your new fence to be in the path of the lawn sprinkler spray.


How many gates will you need? Count on installing two minimum or possibly more – for example, if your driveway will pass through the fence. At least one opening should be wide enough for outdoor necessities like garbage cans or snow blowers.

Special features

Fence columns are trendy these days, according to Raboine, for decorative purposes and to hold lighting. Joe advises you to plan the lighting design out carefully with your fencing company for the best-looking results.

Also popular are trellises or vertical gardens incorporated into the fence. This not only softens your fence’s appearance, but also supplies you with fresh vegetables or flowers. Especially suitable for new houses with smaller lots.

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