GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBOURS SO BUILD IT RIGHT
Take into consideration property lines, the lay of the land and wood protection
A new fence can give your yard a nice look while offering some much-needed privacy and keeping your children and pets safe and secure while they play in the back yard.
Upgrading or adding a fence doesn’t need to be a complicated project, but before you break ground, you need to do your homework so you don’t get fenced in with a structure that you’ll need to tear down because it was built incorrectly, or in the wrong spot.
THE UPS AND DOWNS OF YOUR YARD
A sloped landscape can add some nice dimension to your yard, allowing you to get creative with your space. But what do you do when the edges of your property line have an uneven slope and you want to build a fence? Well, for that, you’ve got a couple options to think about.
For minor sloping, you can install the fence in a raked pattern. In a raked fence, the rail of the fence (the horizontal bar between fence posts) remains parallel to the ground in all panels.
If your yard features a heavy slope, raked fencing may not be an option, so a stepped fence would be the way to go. Exactly as it sounds, your fence panels will mimic the look of stairs, increasing with the slope of your yard. The bottom of the fence panels may leave larger gaps than you’d see with a sloped fence
— so if you (or the neighbours) have small pets, they may be able to squeeze through. Your fence posts will also need to be cut individually to match the height of each specific panel.
SIGNED AND SEALED
You can build a great fence, but if you don’t properly guard it against the elements, you’re probably going to have to tear it down and build again from scratch. Without protecting it, sun and rain exposure will eventually start to wear out the structure. You can stain and seal the wood to slow down that process and keep your fence standing tall for years to come. Before applying any stain, make sure the wood is clean and dry.
Here are two types of staining you can use on your wooden fence:
Semitransparent: A semitransparent stain will protect the fence from harmful UV rays but allow the natural look of the material to shine through. If you love the look of the wood’s graining, a semitransparent stain will let you keep that look as a major focal point.
Solid: A solid stain will give you a vibrant tone and cover the grain of the wood. You can get bright and bold with your fence which, if you’re trying to touch up an older fence that’s started to show its age, may be a better option than going with a semitransparent stain.
Generally, the darker the stain, the longer it will last, but don’t use that as an excuse to skip staining for another year. Use the instructions for your brand of stain as a guideline. For fences that get a lot of direct sunlight, you might find that you need to restain more often than suggested.
Do a quick check in the spring to assess whether or not you’ll need to touch it up that year.
TOEING THE LINE
Have you ever had a property survey performed? You would have received one when buying your home, but if you bought five, 10 or 20 years ago, what are the odds you can still find it? And if you find yours, can you trust that it’s accurate?
Having an up-to-date survey will outline everything on your lot, including any improvements made over the years (like a pool, deck or addition), as well as noting the location of power, sewer and gas lines — you don’t want to be digging and placing fence posts on top of these lines.
Knowing where your property lines are is key, because you don’t want to be installing a fence on the line, or on your neighbours property. It will need to be entirely on your lot; it can’t encroach into your neighbours yard — and that includes the footings. If you’re replacing an old fence, you shouldn’t assume it’s in the right spot. Your property lines may not be straight, and your new fence will need to be built with that in mind.
Before you break ground on a new fence project, make sure you do your research to keep it standing tall.