How to - Projects

Five tips to consider when planning a fence

Scott McGillivray
Photography by
Janis Nicolay

Whether it's for privacy or just for show, choose a style and materials that will suit your budget

Nothing frames a beautiful garden like a beautiful fence. A fence is one of those features that can be customized to be as functional or as fashionable as you want it to be. Here are my tips on what to consider when choosing a fence.

1. Check local bylaws
Visit your local building office. Fence regulations differ by municipality and will dictate things like allowable height.

2. What does it cost?
  • Wrought iron: $20 to $40 per linear foot
  • Vinyl: $15 to $25 per linear foot
  • Wood: $12 to $28 per linear foot
  • Chain-link: $6 to $15 per linear foot

3. Purpose
Are you trying to keep nosy neighbours at bay? Secure a pool? Or are you just adding a decorative element to your property’s landscaping? Before you make any decisions about materials or design, you need to determine what you want your fence to accomplish.

4. Maintenance
Decide how much maintenance you’re willing to take on. Wooden fences require regular painting or staining and can rot or warp over time. Wrought iron and vinyl fences require less upkeep but provide less privacy and can be expensive. Compare your budget and needs to find the best choice for you.

5. Design
As people extend their living space outdoors, the visual appeal of fences becomes more important. Arbours and trellises can add a lot to the look, and you can use lattices, posts and lighting sources to tie the design into the other elements of your garden. Also consider mixing and matching materials to keep your costs down. For example, use cedar in the front yard but go with inexpensive chain-link in the backyard.

Scott McGillivray is the host of HGTV’s Income Property.


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