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Front Yard Fences: Three Functional Considerations Before You Choose A Fencing Style

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Whether you have a small bungalow or a grand estate-style home, there are dozens of fencing options you could pick for the front yard. But before you set your heart on a specific type of fence and hire a contractor to install it, it's important to consider the practical details of how the fence is intended to function, how it will fit into the neighborhood, and any limitations you could encounter. After you have all the pertinent facts in place you'll be ready to choose a fence with charm, functionality and awesome curb appeal.

How high can the front yard fence be?

Each municipality has it's own regulations for fence height. Check with the local zoning office for the most current rules specific to your address. Regulations can vary widely even between houses in close proximity. For example, in Minnesota's Twin Cities, front yard fences can only be 3 feet high in Minneapolis, with an extra foot of height permitted if the fence style is deemed "decorative" and is only partially opaque. Right next door in St. Paul, Minnesota, the regulations allow for fences up to twice as tall, depending on how far the fence line is from the property line.

TIP: Find out the allowable height before you go fence shopping. Knowing this pertinent detail is essential to help you focus on the appropriate front yard fencing without wasting your time looking at styles that aren't compliant with zoning and building codes.

Will the fence be primarily decorative, or must it serve other functions?

Gorgeous fences that serve as part of the landscaping design add visual interest and value to your property. If your interest is mostly to add a decorative element to the property, consider:

  • a handsome stained-wood fence to accent a house with contemporary style architecture,
  • a white picket fence to match your cottage-style home,
  • or a modern vinyl fence to highlight the features of a Cape Cod house.

However, you may need your fence to serve additional functions such as keeping kids and pets in, discouraging strangers from entering, and reducing sound and dust from traffic. To address these concerns, expand your fence shopping to include:

  • black, green or brown color-coated chain-link fencing to blend nicely with the landscaping while also keeping children and pets securely inside,
  • sturdy metal fencing with close-set pickets and decorative post toppers to establish a firm perimeter that's still visually attractive,
  • or a solid wood panel fence with shrubbery planted on one or both sides to help reduce the impact of traffic noise on your garden oasis.

What level of ongoing maintenance will the fence require?

The front yard fence is the first thing you see when you come home, and it makes a lasting impression on visitors and passersby, too. To keep the view fresh and looking good, some types of fences require significant maintenance. A traditional white wooden picket fence, for example, needs to be painted routinely to keep up its charming appearance. If you prefer a fence that requires minimal maintenance, talk to your fence contractor about these options:

  • wood fencing that has been treated and sealed to reduce damage from rot and insect pests,
  • vinyl fencing that doesn't fade and that only needs to be pressure washed occasionally to keep it looking lovely and new,
  • or rust-resistant metal fencing material that won't look shabby even years after it's installed.

Now that you've established the basic criteria for your front yard fence, it's time to have fun shopping. Your fencing contractor will be your most helpful guide to finding a style and the best fencing materials for a strong, beautiful installation.