6 Tips for Choosing the Best Fence for Your Yard

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated October 21, 2021
Father and kids riding bikes in front of fenced house
PM Images/Stone via Getty Images

Doing your research before choosing and installing a fence will benefit your yard, family, and lifestyle

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Fences can offer privacy, security, and good looks. Plus, they offer a safe space for your family and pets to run around freely. There are several types of fences, and each has unique qualities worth considering. Before choosing the one that’s right for you, do some research.

1. Understand Your Needs

Dog in front yard looking over the fence
Sue Barr/Image Source via Getty Images

There are several reasons you may be considering installing a fence in your yard. It could be for good looks, privacy concerns, keeping pesky deer out of your garden, or providing a safe area for your kids and dogs to play. Installed well, fences may even increase your property value.

Take a moment to think about the reason for your fence, and let that be your signpost as you determine what type of fence works best for you. Some materials work better than others—wood is great for privacy, for example, whereas ornamental metal is not.

2. Set a Budget

Fencing materials have vastly different costs. Before you call a local fence retailer, sit down at your computer and set a budget. First, consider the size of your yard and calculate how much fencing you need. With this number, you can then compare and contrast the cost of different materials to determine a total budget, which can be either a solid number or a range.

The average cost for a professionally installed fence is $2,800, ranging from $400 to $9,200, according to HomeAdvisor. Installing a fence typically costs $13 to $50 per linear foot, including professional installation. Factors including the size and type of fence as well as your yard’s slope can affect these numbers.

If you decide to buy your own materials, you’ll just pay for labor. Fence installation labor generally costs $30 to $80 per hour, depending on who and where you hire. The average fence measures about 200 linear feet, which will take a professional about 35 hours to complete. In that case, you’ll pay between $1,050 and $2,800 for labor.

3. Consider Different Materials

Common fencing materials include wood, aluminum, vinyl, wrought iron, and chain-link. Each material has pros and cons.

Wood

Wood is a popular fencing choice that’s great for privacy and containment, but it does require regular re-staining or painting to keep it looking great.

Pros

  • Offers privacy

  • Affordable

  • Classic look

Cons

  • Requires maintenance

  • Relatively short lifespan (10–20 years)

Aluminum

While aluminum fences are not ideal for maintaining privacy, they are totally functional. They can keep kids and pets where they’re supposed to be while keeping out intruders and the best part is they hardly require any maintenance.

Pros

  • Secure

  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • Low privacy

Vinyl

New vinyl yard fence
ghornephoto/E+ via Getty Images

Because vinyl requires little maintenance and can stand up to physical blows, it’s an excellent option for fencing material. Although vinyl costs more than other fencing materials, it has low maintenance costs—a simple, occasional spray with the hose will keep it looking new throughout its lifetime.

Pros

  • Low maintenance

  • Durable

  • Comes in an array of styles and colors

Cons

  • High upfront costs

  • Can warp or crack in extreme temperatures

Wrought Iron

If you’ve ever admired the beautiful historic homes of the South, like the ones in New Orleans, you’ve likely seen a wrought iron fence. These unique and classy fences offer plenty of style, but they cost significantly more than wood and chain-link fences.

Pros

  • Looks nice

  • Durable

  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Prone to rust

Chain-link fences are the classic budget-friendly fence often seen around schoolyards and public playgrounds. If you aren’t concerned with privacy or high security (intruders can usually climb over it), chain-link is an excellent, affordable fence material.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Low security

  • Low privacy

4. Check With Your HOA

If you have a homeowner’s association (HOA) setting the rules in your neighborhood, you may not have full control over what type of fence you install. Check with your HOA to find out if the fence you want meets their standards for materials and height.

5. Find Your Property Line

Before you build your fence, make sure you know your exact property line. If the fence is not in the correct spot, neighbors could lobby to have it removed down the line. You can do this yourself by consulting your deed (if it came with those exact measurements) or hire a surveyor to find it for you. If a professional installs your fence, ask the company if they provide this service.

6. Hire the Right Professional

Fencing your yard yourself is hard work. Plus, it requires specific tools. If you don’t have carpentry skills and plenty of time on your hands, consider hiring a professional. Check their licensing status beforehand to determine if they’re qualified to do the job.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.