What You Need to Know Before Fencing a Garden

Fencing a garden seems like an easy project, doesn’t it? Just knock in a few posts, secure your fence, and off you go. Well, that’s one way of doing it … but it’s not the smartest.

Careful planning will save you a lot of time, money, and hassle once you’ve actually installed your fence. I spoke with Joe Raboine, the director of Belgard Residential Hardscapes, about what to research before fencing your yard and a few things to look out for.

The bottom line, Joe warns, is “make sure you don’t do anything that later costs money … or needs replacing!”

Laws and guidelines

Make sure your plans comply with local regulations. Your homeowners association is the beginning; most will require an architectural review before new fence plans are approved. Interestingly enough, Joe points out, “The city will normally submit to the HOA.”

If your city requires a permit to erect a fence, have it ready before starting work. And find out if there are underground utilities or cables running where you want to dig.

Property line

Determine your exact property line so you don’t accidentally install the fence on your neighbor’s lawn. Look at the plat card (if it’s less than 5 years old) or hire a surveyor. Local laws may require an additional setback of several inches to one foot.

Soil condition

Comments Joe, “The floor can play a huge role in your fence design. For new builds, you want to make sure the floor has set. Otherwise, it should be thoroughly compacted.

“Additionally, depending on the region of the country, you may need to reinforce the fence posts. If the soil is very firm, such as heavy clay, you can often just wrap it around the posts. But if it is really sandy, you may need to be concrete-filled Use Sonotubes ™ to keep the sand from collapsing as you prepare to set the posts.

“In some areas you come across bedrock or boulders that require drilling or the installation of special equipment.


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

Four key factors will help narrow down your choices:

1. Purpose: privacy, safe children’s playground, animals indoors (or outdoors), etc.

2. Budget

3. Taste and style

4. Maintenance effort that you want to invest in the finished product: eg. paint a wooden fence

To illustrate, while chain links are a cheap way to fence in a garden, they can clash with the style of your home … and are not quite suitable as privacy screens or noise protection.


Plan a fence that fits your landscape and hardscape (existing or future). Consider bringing heavy equipment, perhaps to pour a concrete patio. Of course, this should be done before you have installed the fence.

Talk to your sprinkler company to decide if the equipment needs to be repositioned. You don’t want your new fence to get in the way of the sprinkler.


How many goals will you need? Expect to install at least two or possibly more – for example, if your driveway goes through the fence. At least one opening should be wide enough for outdoor necessities like garbage cans or snow blowers.

Special features

According to Raboine, fence pillars are trendy nowadays, for decorative purposes and as lighting fixtures. Joe recommends that you carefully plan your lighting design with your fencing company for the best results.

Espaliers or vertical gardens built into the fence are also popular. This not only softens the look of your fence, but also provides you with fresh vegetables or flowers. Particularly suitable for new buildings with smaller lots.

Fencing in a garden – numbers you have to know

– Cost of the fence in a yard: 1-45 USD per running foot, depending on the type of material (without labor).

– Cheapest Fence Material: Barbed wire and electric (invisible) fences start at $ 1 per walking foot.

– Most expensive fence material: composite material such as Trex ™; upscale styles cost up to $ 45 per walking foot.

– Average cost of fencing permit: $ 40.

– Average land survey cost: $ 500.

– Fence height: generally 3-foot limit for the front yard; 6 feet elsewhere on your property (pool fences have special regulations). Sometimes there is a minimum height of 30 inches. Confirm with your local building authority.

– Fence post spacing: a maximum of 8 feet apart.

– Post Hole Depth: At least 3 feet in cold climates (6 inches below the frost line).

– Door width: 36 inches for a person walking and / or using a mobility device. 48+ inches for lawn equipment.

– One call number to call before digging: 811.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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