A Short Introduction To The Different Types of Fences and Their Pros and Cons
There are really a lot of types of fences. I'll summarize here only the ones that could be interesting to you as a private house owner. The idea is to have basic understanding of the different fences before you spend your money buying one.
By Purpose: Why This Fence?
First question you need to ask yourself: why do I need a fence? Just because the neighbors have one is not the best answer :) Most fences serve several purposes at once. See what are the most common ones and you'll start getting idea what fence you may need:
- Privacy is almost always one of the reasons to build a fence. Most of us don't enjoy the curious views from neighbors or strangers. So you need a relatively dense and high fence for this. Wood fences, living fences, and stone fences are good for this purpose for example. Here is a good guide on building a privacy fence.
- Security is at least as important if not more. Besides stopping thieves, security fences work also for stopping wild animals, stray dogs and livestock going inside or outside of the homestead. Such fences need mostly to be high and strong, not easy to break or cut.
- Decorative. You probably want your fence to look good especially in your private garden. Just any other type of fence can have decorative purpose too. My own preference in this area is for living fences but some stone fences, wood fences or wrought iron onces can be very impressive too.
While these are the most common uses, you may also have other reasons to install a fence. You may want to use it primary for noise reduction or for landscape arrangement, or as a net for creeping plants. In cold climates some fences are build mostly to prevent snow.
Materials and Costs
In our neighborhood people use mostly various types of wire mesh fences because they are most affordable. They don't look very impressive however, offer no privacy, and low security because such fence is easy to cut with scissors. Here are the other types of fence materials you may consider for your backyard:
- Wood fences are very popular. Their cost can be from very cheap for the DIY ones built with materials on hand, to fairly expensive for the fences from teak wood. Here is a good list of different wood fences.
- Wire mesh fences are relatively cheap and easy to make. You will need a metal or concrete pole on each six feet / 2m to support the wire mesh. The costs of the mesh itself start from $2-$3 per meter, add $5-$6 for each pole. Wooden poles perhaps can be found for free in your property but they won't live that long. Here is how to install such fence yourself.
- Vinyl fences can look just as good as white picket wooden fences but be cheaper and easier to install. They are sold on panels that are attached to the poles, and then the poles are plugged in the ground. See for example a traditional and very beautiful vinyl fence panel that costs about $76 for 6 feet. Of course this is a lot more than a wire mesh fence but looks much better and is so much easier to install. See a decent installation guide here.
- Aluminum fencing is good alternative to both wooden and vinyl fencing. Surprisingly it's often cheaper than both other options. For example this panel costs only ~$140 and is 8 feet long. And they are also more secure. But aluminum fences rarely look as good and protect privacy as well as a vinyl or wooden one. Here is a short but good comparison between aluminum, steel, wood, and vinyl fencing. (A bit biased though)
- Wrought iron fencing can be really impressive to your neighbors. And to your wallet - it can be really expensive. It's not an exception for a well looking 8' wrought iron fence panel to cost more than $300. However if you can afford such fence it will look great and serve you nearly forever. Privacy is perhaps the only concern besides price.
- Living fences take some time to grow and require some care. Costs however can be pretty low - if you can find appropriate bushes around your living fence will be nearly free. If you decide to buy plants you may need to pay $1 or so per foot. They are great for privacy and with the time become more secure than even a stone fence. Their many benefits make the extra waiting and labor really worth it. See a great article about living fences by MotherEarthNews.
- Bamboo fences are light, well-looking and can be very cheap. For example you can easily find pre-build 8' long bamboo fence panels for $30 - $40. There are also live bamboo fences which can be nearly free if you seed the bamboo yourself.
- Fences from tree branches. In the past people often built these because they had easy access to tree branches and not so easy access to vinyl or wrought iron. Even now, such a fence is great thing to have. Of course it's entirely DIY thing and you need to plan plenty of time for building it. Cost: $0.10 per foot (for some wire strung) if you don't count your labor.
- Brick fences and stone fences are expensive, slow to built, but very secure and long living. You can build one of standard bricks, concrete bricks, or stones. Some gardeners even make such fencing entirely from concrete shutter. See this guide for more info. Did I say expensive? $100 for a linear foot is not an exception.
Phew, this was long. And I couldn't even cover all possible fences. But we will dedicate more posts on them, so just make sure you are subscribed or visit us often.