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Guide to Choosing The Right Fence Design & Style

There are many reasons to purchase and have a fence installed on your residential or commercial property. Maybe you have just purchased a new home and have pets, or you have newly acquired a pet, or you have installed a pool and by code must have a fence installed, maybe you have small children that need an area for playing in that is contained. You may be looking for vinyl or PVC privacy or picket fencing, aluminum fences, wood fence, or even a chain link fence.

Whatever the reason, it can be a worrisome process as you search the internet or pull out the phone book (people still do that?!?) to see what options are available to you. You start to make contact with fence contractors in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area, only to find out, this will not be nearly as easy as you imagined.

This post is the first in a series about being better informed about the fencing industry to help you make an educated decision on choosing a fence contractor for this major purchase for your home. Let?s face it, a fence project qualifies as something you should do your homework on.

I have had customers who contact me that know just as much about fencing as I do because they have done their homework and researched the subject. On the flip side of that coin, I have many more customers, who just call or email me for a free estimate, and have no idea what they need out of a fence.

Need vs. Want:

So, first things first. What kind of fence you need, sometimes, is much different than what you want. Think first about the purpose of the fence. If you are wanting to contain a tiny dog, you may not want a fence with large spacing between pickets, maybe you have a very large dog; you might not want a four foot tall chain link fence that he/she could easily climb over, or maybe you just don?t want your neighbors looking at you while you are in your back yard.

So think about why you really need the fence, not what you think looks the best. Do some research on fences, I have several links on this page to fence manufacturers that we use for our customers. You can click on their web sites for pictures and specifications of different types of fence. Of course, I do not have one for wood fences, because they are built as per the customers specifications and needs. I will, however, be writing another post (or series of posts) dedicated to wood fences.

After you have looked into the many different types, styles, heights, and materials used for fence building in the Georgia area, (I am not familiar with areas other than the southeast United States) and you are pretty sure you have a good idea of the fence you would like to install, lets work on where the fence needs to be located on your property.

Fence Location:

There are several ways to look at determining where to locate your fence on your property. Is it going to be located at property lines? Or, maybe there is just a portion of your property you would like to have fenced in. Either way, the best way for you to really see where your fence will be located is to mark it out with wooden stakes, and a bright colored string line. These are easily purchased for a few dollars at the local hardware or home improvement store.

If at all possible, have your property survey with you during this process, it will help you in determining where your property lines are. Use the wooden stakes to mark your fence location. It is not important to have multiple stakes running down the same line for this, only on the corners and changes in direction. After you have marked it out with the stakes, attach the string to each stake, and pull tight to keep the string off the ground. If your property slopes up and down, you may need more stakes to keep the string off the ground.

Now that you have done this, take a good look, walk around trying to visualize your new fence. Try to see problem areas; does the fence run through heavily wooded or overgrown areas? Is there a steep slope on your property? Have you thought about where to put the gate(s) and what size gate you will need? (There will be a future post just about gates).


Now that you have taken a more visual look at your fence location, there maybe some issues to contend with. Take care of these issues before moving on. Also, after this step, you may realize that the type of fence you wanted won’t work in your yard, for instance; a vinyl privacy fence does not install well on steep sloping areas, you may need to consider wood fencing instead.

Now that we have gone over deciding what type of fence you need, and how to determine where to put your fence, we can now measure for your fence. If you have not, read part 1 and part 2 of this series.

First, you will need to have a 100′ tape or a measuring wheel. This can be accomplished with a 25′ tape, but it is more difficult. If you don’t have any of these, try borrowing one or you can purchase a 25′ tape measure for around $10 at the hardware store.

Next, make a drawing of the layout of your house and where the fence will be located. It is best if you use a piece of graph paper to draw the house and fence location on it. There is no need to try and be an architect or engineer here! Just make a basic drawing with a square house, and try to show the shape of the fence (most have a square shape, but some lots are not square).

Then you start on one side of the house at the front and measure out (left or right depending on which side of the house you are on) to the side of the property along the string line you already installed. If you missed part 1 and part 2, they explain more on the string line. Continue measuring each line, starting a new measurement at each change in direction. Write each measurement separately according to where each is located on the drawing.

After you have done this for each side of the property line where you will be installing your wood fence, chain link, aluminum, vinyl, or post and rail fence, you need to show approximate location(s) for the gate(s). Don’t worry about being exact here, this is just to get it on paper so you can look at it and get a good idea of the entire fence project.

Now you should have an idea of the type and style of your fence, the area you will putting the fence, and now, the length of your fence project. In the next post, we will discuss what to do with the information you have gathered from this “Guide to Choosing the Right Fence."