These yard structures can enhance or hurt home aesthetic as much as many other outdoor features.
The art of yard fencing has evolved throughout the years, from simple property separators built with any available materials, to complex, artfully carved creations spanning multiple materials and hues.
Some of these backyard models are painstakingly crafted with carved wood or metal layered upon brick or concrete bases, while others at the opposite end of the spectrum are comprised of natural sticks or barely carved logs, evoking a pastoral sense.
Some enter the realm of having a privacy purpose, with zero gap and extra height tops, while others feature wide post gaps and barely-there covering. Every single option here is a unique expression, highlighting the range of permutations that the humble fence has seen in recent times.
A great place to start your fence planning is checking out examples, styles, types and features which we provide here. You then want to check out some fence design software and put your F into a blueprint. Also check out our parts of a fence diagrams (for both wooden and chain link fences).
Like so much with home improvement, the range in cost is a huge range.
Fencing is typically priced per foot or meter. Therefore, the longer it is, the more it costs.
If you go with pre-built panels, you pay per panel. The range in cost for panels is $40 to $300 for 6 to 8 feet of length. Expect to pay $100 to $200 per six to eight foot panels.
- 1 acre with 8 foot panels at $200/panel = 836 feet/8 X $200 = $20,900
- 1/2 acre = $10,450
- 1/4 acre = $5,225
Please note the above costs are merely estimates based on a cost of $200 per eight feet. It does NOT include the cost of paid installation.
Check out our fence cost calculator here.
The most common materials are wood (western red cedar is a common type of wood) and vinyl.
When it comes to shopping, especially panels, you’ll notice there are far more vinyl panel options than wood.
2 Most Popular Materials
- aluminum (including jerith aluminum)
Vinyl vs. Wood
Pros of Vinyl:
- Huge selection: More styles to choose from.
- Less maintenance
Cons of Vinyl:
- Costs more than wood
- If repairs needed, more likely you’ll need to replace the entire panel (whereas with wood you can simply swap out the board)
- Once stained, you need to replace it (unless you don’t mind ugly stains).
Pros of Wood:
- Natural wood look (who doesn’t like that);
- Costs less than vinyl
- Can repair broken boards
- Paint them any color you like.
Cons of Wood:
- More effort to maintain
By Purpose (Examples)
1. Decorative/Functional Combo
This is by far the most popular purpose. It’s to keep kids/animals in and/or animals/people out.
A nice touch to add to a garden is to place a low, decorative fence around it. While not as protective as you’d like (it’s nearly impossible to keep deer out of a garden), the right garden fence can enhance the look of gardens in the yard.
Any pool owner needs a fence surrounding the pool, whether it’s around the property or directly wrapping around the pool. There are many pool fence options. We set out two common designs below.
Check this pool fence out… it’s all glass which is ideal for a pool (obvious not a privacy fence):
A privacy fence is an umbrella term for a lot of fence designs which is fairly tall and is more or less a solid wall offering privacy to the space it wraps around.
10 Popular Fence Style Options
Fence styles are largely determined by the fence tops, but some are also determined by the main section or how it fits together (i.e. rail fence).
Here’s an illustrated guide depicting the 10 popular fence styles (please pin on Pinterest):
Below are real life photo examples of the 10 most popular fence styles courtesy of Home Depot.
1. Dog Ear
The dog ear fence is when the corners of the vertical boards are cut at angles on the side.
2. Flat Top
As the name suggest, the flat top fence design is a flat top.
The gothic fence style is a series of points.
4. Lattice Top
The lattice top fence style is a regular fence with lattice attached to the top adding a decorative element to it.
An extremely popular and well-known type of fence, the picket is a short fence with gaps between vertical wood that makes up the fence. It’s mostly decorative, but taller picket fences can also serve as protective fences to a certain extent (to the extent any fence can be protective).
Privacy fences come in many forms; essentially they are more or less solid and serve to offer a space privacy. They’re typically full-height.
8. Shadow Box
The shadow box is fence that is formed via wood attached in an alternating fashion on each side of the frame. It offers privacy but from the side let’s in light.
9. Spaced Picket
The spaced picket is a picket fence with wider gaps.
The rail fence is typically used on larger properties and farms. It’s a horizontal style instead of vertical. It uses much less material per linear foot so it’s a cheaper style which is why it’s a popular choice for large properties.
Another fence style that’s not so popular, but effective, is a gabion fence. A gabion fence is made with wire cages and rock (although you can fill the wire cages with anything). Here’s an example.
This light natural wood style features Eastern-style arch over corner gate entry and lattice style upper detail.
This warm wood example features attached lattice mounted greenery. Source: Zillow DigsTM
Modern lattice style comprised of black stained wood posts and base, with lighter red toned body.
Here’s another rich, warm toned wooden privacy version with layered slats and horizontal top panel.
This high, modern type features built-in shelving and light sources scattered throughout its surface. Source: Zillow DigsTM
Formal look privacy example featuring upper lattice work design.
Light non-stained wood option with ivy artfully laid on.
This wood variety layers posts with rounded tops for a fully opaque look.
Unique spin on the waist-height, featuring striking cross-hair box style in dark grey and double-swing entry. Source: Zillow DigsTM
Light natural wood privacy example stands out brightly against lush lawn.
Layered structure rough natural wood material features interior posts.
Garden version features sparse, widely spaced posts with hooks for gardening tools.
Layered privacy style featuring darker natural wood, spaced between beige concrete pillars.
Multi-hued example sandwiches curved horizontal beams and natural wood posts between black sectional pillars.
Untreated wood that features layered posts with lattice style top section.
Traditional example in light natural tones, with cut-corner post tops.
This privacy example is in natural unstained wood features top horizontal layer.
Traditional picket type in light brown.
Rounded post lattice version here features rustic look, with latching gate at center.
Here’s a very sparse, natural wood garden design.
This example features natural wood posts with angled tops.
Here’s a great example of a white vinyl privacy version. Built of panels, it could easily be extended. Learn more.
Here’s a white vinyl scallop-topped spaced picket variety which is a nice arrangement for front yards. Source
Above is a white vinyl shadowbox style. Source
Above is a Vinyl closed picket photo providing both security and privacy. Source
Here we have a unique cylindrical post white picket garden type with flowers mixed throughout.
Here’s a low slung white option with cylindrical posts sandwiched between thick horizontal beams, with large square posts at corners.
Sparse posts on this white variety bookended and tied at the middle with horizontal wood beams.
This familiar picket style is raised off the ground several inches, features trapezoidal caps on dividing posts.
Waist height version with round pole-style vertical posts and four horizontal widely spaced slats.
This white one has spiked tops is framed in marble lower structure and dividing posts.
Traditional white picket concept with rounded post tops.
This wave-version features posts at multiple heights, over concrete base, in front of neatly pruned bush wall.
Here’s another four-slat white type, with large vertical posts capped with pyramid shape.
This rounded spike top white kind features large flat arch over gateway.
Cylindrical posts with spike caps is unified by two slim horizontal beams, supported on brick base.
Here’s another curved top, wave-like white picket, with rounded post tops.
Off-white features unique elements, with slim posts sandwiched between wider slats.
Spike topped thick post picket features slim gaps.
Super minimalist aesthetic on this white one, with uniform flat-topped posts and zero gap.
This wider gapped option features two slat heights, with rounded tops, between slim dividing posts.
Slim post, spike-topped example.
Here’s another farm style white fence with widely spaced horizontal beams.
Hewn Log & Branch
This branch variety features naturally warped cross-posts.
Hewn log features three thick horizontal beams and cylindrical posts.
Natural branches feature entirely untreated wood, with bark remaining, for thick look with minimal gap.
This is a combination of horizontal branches and hewn log vertical posts.
Here’s a natural bamboo concept, with minimal gap.
This wrought iron example features spike caps and circular flourish.
Black metal stands on white concrete base with large brick-topped gate surround.
These dark wooden posts feature minimalist rope “beams.”
Chain Link for Backyards
Frankly, chain link fences are not a great option for a home – back and front yard – because they don’t look great.
However, one option is to conceal a chain link type with a hedge such as the following (although I’d run the hedge the entire way). If you have young kids and/or pets, the chain link option adds an additional layer of protection. It’s also more easily hidden among a mature hedge, so in some cases it’s an excellent option with a hedge.
The following is another backyard with a chain link. While it’s not my first choice for fencing material, it doesn’t look terrible with the garden in front of it.
Bamboo fences are growing in popularity. Here’s a couple of examples. Be sure to check out our gallery featuring 21 bamboo designs.
Split rail fences are the zig zag style, designed in that configuration to assist standing up. It’s very simple. You often see them surrounding acreages, grazing areas and large properties. Their rustic look is also very appealing as they look to be a natural extension of the landscape.
Here a couple split rail examples.
Check out our full gallery of split rail fences here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to common questions about fences.
How Long Does Vinyl Fencing last?
Vinyl is one of the longest-lasting materials available that’s used to build fences. If it’s installed correctly by a professional who is fully trained and knowledgeable in all aspects of vinyl fencing, it should last at least 30 years if the fence is cleaned and maintained on a regular basis, Some vinyl fences even come with a lifetime warranty.
How Long Does Wood Fencing Last?
It depends on both the type of wood that is being used and whether it’s been treated. The most common types of wood used for fences are cedar, pine, and spruce. The untreated life of cut cedar will last anywhere from 15 to 30 years. If it’s treated and resealed as needed, cedar can last as long as 40 years. With pine, it will last a little more than 10 years untreated. Treated and maintained, it will last about 20 years. Spruce wears the quickest, lasting around 5 years untreated. But, if it’s treated and maintained, it can also last about 20 years.
Can Fences Be Repaired?
Yes. And since they are outside and constantly exposed to the elements, fences will become damaged from time to time, requiring some maintenance. Both vinyl and wood fences can be repaired if they are damaged. Unfortunately wood will only sustain so much damage before it will need to be replaced entirely.
Can Vinyl Fencing Be Painted?
While vinyl fencing won’t usually need to be repainted as long as it is maintained properly, it can be painted fairly easily. You’d want to start with a clean surface that is completely dry. Next, you would want at least one good coat of primer, preferably a formula that’s designed to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. Then apply an epoxy-based exterior paint, usually at least two coats, especially if you are changing the color of the fence. The final step would be coating the fence with a sealer for added protection and to add more of a sheen.
Can Vinyl Fencing Be Washed?
Not only can vinyl fencing be washed, but it’s the best way to maintain in and keep it looking beautiful. It also will prevent mold and mildew from growing in hidden areas where moisture can settle. Pressure washing is the most effective way to clean a vinyl fence. But you can also use some soapy water with a little elbow grease and a good garden hose sprayer. You’d want to clean a vinyl fence at least once a year to keep it looking beautiful.
Can You Screw Into Vinyl Fencing?
You can drill holes for screws into vinyl fencing, but it will take a little finesse. It is a little more difficult that drilling into wood. You’d need a good drill with a set of solid bits and always use stainless steel screws. You can even find vinyl caps to use to cover the ends of the screws if they are showing.
Do Fence Posts Need Concrete?
While gravel can sometimes be used if you have heavy, densely-packed, clay soil, using concrete has always been and still continues to be the most effective way to set fence posts to keep them from leaning.
Can Cats Climb Vinyl Fencing?
While a cat’s claws will not usually give them the capability of being able to scale a vinyl fence, their jumping ability can enable them to get over it, especially if the fence is shorter or there are things near it for the cat to use as a leaping pad. Cats won’t be able to jump over taller vinyl fencing.
Can Raccoons Climb Vinyl Fencing?
Raccoons will make every attempt to climb over any obstruction if they think that there is the possibility of food on the other side. But they cannot climb a vinyl fence and don’t have the jumping ability that cats possess. Raccoons are very adept at climbing though, and they have very sharp claws. So if you have anything stacked near a vinyl fence, they can be pretty creative with their scaling skills.
Can Vinyl Fencing Be Recycled?
It’s completely recyclable, even the sawdust that’s left behind after a vinyl fence is cut and installed. Vinyl fencing is made using PVC, which is a thermoplastic, meaning it can be melted and used for other purposes.
Can Used Fencing Be Sold?
Anything can be sold. And with the ever-growing popularity of the internet, social media outlets, and buy-and-sell websites, it almost seems like there is a new cyber-market where you can find nearly anything for a deal.
Because of the longevity of vinyl fencing, it is rare that you’ll see used fencing for sale. But it is fairly common to see used wood fencing for sale, usually because someone is upgrading to vinyl.
What Materials are Fences Made From?
Wood and vinyl are the most common types of materials used in the construction of fences. Chain-link fences are also a very economic option for enclosing an area for security. Fences can also be made using wrought-iron, aluminum, and bamboo.
What Type of Fencing is Best for Chickens?
Fencing is important for chickens to both keep them contained and to protect them from predators. And since chickens can fly, a fence would need to be at least six feet high to keep them from escaping.
Wire fencing is the most common type used for chickens because of its durability, ability to withstand the elements and the amount of protection it provides. Sometimes, vinyl lattices are used to line the bottom of the fences both for added stability and to make them more aesthetically appealing.
What Type of Fencing is Best for Goats?
Goats are playful, extremely inquisitive, and love to jump, making it a little difficult to contain them. So they will need a fence that’s tall enough and strong enough to contain them while also protecting them from any predators.
Wire and chain link are commonly used to contain goats as long as the openings aren’t big enough for them to get their heads or horns stuck in. Sometimes electric fences are used for especially aggressive goats. You can also use 3-rail vinyl fencing lined with electric wire to keep your goats safe.
Who Invented Vinyl Fencing?
We know that fences have been around since the beginning of time, probably starting as stones stacked to create a barrier and then later moving on to wood and other materials. Joseph Glidden invented barbed wire fencing in 1873 as a more effective means of controlling livestock and keeping out predators as well as for clearly marking property lines.
World War II brought about many changes in industrial production processes, mainly because many valuable alloys like aluminum were no longer available. That’s about the time that PVC was developed to be used for piping.
If anyone could take credit for the invention of vinyl fencing, it would have to be the farmers who discovered the benefits of using PVC pipes to stockade their animals. Their fences caught the eye of major manufacturers, spurring the advancements in vinyl fencing that we see today.
When was Vinyl Fencing Invented?
Vinyl fencing cam into play in the late 1970’s, mainly used to replace wooden 3-rail fences that were typically used on farms to contain livestock. And its discovery was somewhat by accident. Farmers who were friends with irrigation pipe manufacturers could easily secure the vinyl pipes at a minimal cost or for free and began to use them instead of the traditional wood fence posts and rails.
The idea quickly caught on and has now become one of the main materials used for fencing materials for both homes and businesses because of its durability and long life-span.
Fence Image Sources: Home Depot