Decorative Fences Buying Guide

From establishing a border to keeping your favorite four-legged friend at home, decorative fences serve a variety of outdoor purposes. Here's a buying guide to help you find the one that works best.

Types of Decorative Fences

Types of Decorative Fences

There's an old saying that fences make good neighbors. While it might be less true now than it used to be, fences can, in fact, make for beautiful neighborhoods. And decorative fences serve practical purposes, too, providing a boundary for pets and kids as well as a backdrop for plants and trees. Whatever the reason you have for adding a fence to your yard, you're most likely going to choose one of these types: wood, chain link, wrought iron/metal, or decorative. Here's what to consider as you review your options.

Wood

Wood decorative fences range in style from the classic picket fence to more ornate and complex creations. Wood fences can be painted or stained, or left unfinished. They vary in height based on the need of the landscape.

Chain Link

Chain-link fencing comes in a variety of heights and compositions; regularly spaced posts help to secure the fence and keep it from bowing in or out. Chain-link fences may also include gates.

Wrought Iron/Metal

Wrought-iron or metal fences are popular for adding traditional, classic style to the border of a property. Different metals or finishes make them appropriate for more contemporary architecture, too.

Decorative

Some fences are not designed to establish a border or restrict a pet, but simply to decorate an overall landscape composition. These may include fences that mix materials or add whimsical elements.

Product Features

Product Features

Many decorative fences are less decorative than they are functional -- and that's OK. A fence should first and foremost be about what you need and what you prefer. For example, your neighborhood may be filled with similar fences -- and yours can keep in step with everyone else's. But many people prefer to use their decorative fences as distinctive additions to the landscape. Whichever route you take, there are certain product features that are important to review. Those include height, gates, and automatic open.

Height

The height of your fence will depend on your living space (see the purchase considerations below). But various materials offer different standards as a baseline. For example, most chain-link fencing begins at a 4-foot height.

Gates

For many landscapes, gates are an essential element to establish entry either to the street side or another section of the yard. Some gates may be standard width, while others may be wider and open in the middle.

Automatic Open

For those fences with gates, entry may be manual or through an automatic opener. Similar to a garage-door opener, a gate sensor or opener controls the opening and closing of the gate.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Unlike the interior of your home -- where what you do is limited only by your tastes and your budget -- there are distinct outside influences that may affect your fence's end result. The biggest purchase consideration is what your municipality or city says you may or may not do with property lines and fencing. Other items to consider as you review decorative fence choices include decorative elements and exterior versus interior sides. Use this overview to help you make the best choice.

City Restrictions

City restrictions or neighborhood covenants may dictate what you can and cannot do with your fence: its placement, materials, height, and the like. Check with your neighborhood association or city zoning office before choosing a fence.

Decorative Elements

Fences, posts, and gates can be enhanced through the use of various decorative elements, such as post finials, arches around gates, and different colors. The patterning and spacing of the fence members may also add charm and beauty.

Exterior vs. Interior Sides

Typically fences in materials such as wood present an exterior, finished "face" to the rest of the neighborhood, with interior construction facing the house. Various patterns or material choices can enhance the look on both sides.

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