Do It Yourself Fences On The Cheap (2)

Do It Yourself Fences on the Cheap

When buying a new property whether in the city, suburbs, or country, you may also inherit broken-down, ugly, or absent fences. With a small patch of land, this may lead to privacy concerns. On a larger acreage homestead, inadequate or nonexistent fencing can lead to problems like your sheep escaping and eating the neighbour’s garden, or a stray dog trespassing and taking out your chicken flock. Check out our Melbourne fencing services services here. 

Though fences may seem to bar interaction at first, they’re important to establish good boundaries for your animals, children, or neighbour’s dogs, and they can beautify your property as a bonus.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably looking for a way to keep something unwanted off your property or something wanted on your property, and you’re looking for a way to do it without breaking the bank. Thankfully, there are cheap fence options available to you.

It seems there are really two options for fencing. Basically, fences cost you either money or time. You can get one done fast and pay a lot for it, or you can do it yourself at a slower pace and have it cheap — but don’t let the term “cheap” make you call a fencing company with a resigned sigh.

Going for a cheap option does not mean you have to sacrifice on quality or aesthetics. After all, the original homesteaders were able to make fences with what they had on hand — and some of those fences are still standing. You too can build (or grow!) secure, dependable, and beautiful fences without emptying your savings account.

Before I get into the list, I have to mention an important note. If you are rebuilding a fence, it sounds easy enough to know where an agreed-upon boundary line is based on the location of a broken-down fence. Building a fence from scratch, however, can get you into neighbourly squabbles if you’re not mutually confident of the dividing line.

Whether you are installing a new fence or rebuilding an old one, I would highly recommend having a surveyor come out and confirm your land’s true legal boundaries. That way, you know exactly where to build, and if any border disputes arise, you will be prepared.

Hopefully, this list of options gives you some food for thought as you figure out how to make your homestead or backyard a little more private and safe. Bear in mind, this is not a how-to for every design, but a set of launching points and a collection of resources for you to use as you decide what is best for your property.

Do It Yourself Fences On The Cheap

The Most Affordable Ways to Fence in a Yard

A fence that keeps out nosy neighbours and possible intruders can also boost your home’s curb appeal without breaking the bank. While some materials, such as aluminium ($35 to $55 per linear foot) and vinyl ($20 to $40 per linear foot) are decidedly pricey, you can install a front or backyard fence far more frugally. Click through for 15 durable and affordable options—some purely utilitarian, others quite attractive. You’re sure to find the fence that’s perfect for your property and your budget. Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of Melbourne fencing services

Treated pine ($12 to $19 per linear foot installed)

Pinewood panels that are chemically or pressure-treated to resist rot and pests, installed in a non-breaking vertical or horizontal orientation, are available for far less than naturally rot-resistant lumbers such as cedar or redwood. Because treated wood does tend to twist or warp post-install, handpick fence panels from your lumberyard to ensure that they aren’t green or damp, signs that the wood will easily move out of place once in the ground.

Chain link ($10 to $20 per linear foot)

Chain link, comprised of thick steel wires bent and hooked together, is often the best option for a small budget and a large yard. While the two- to three-inch spaces between the wires mean less privacy than a solid fence, chain link effectively keep pets in and intruders out. While chain link isn’t especially attractive, you can improve the appearance by planting a fast-growing vine such as ivy directly behind it and letting it cover the fence, or painting it with an oil-based exterior paint in a pleasing neutral or earth tone, like forest green.

Wrought iron ($24 to $32 per linear foot)

For a centuries-old appearance that makes for dramatic décor on a Gothic Revival, Second Empire, or Italianate home, opt for the secure fortress style of a wrought-iron fence. Thin, vertically oriented balusters made of rot- and warp-resistant low-carbon iron alloy are placed inches apart between taller, thicker vertical iron posts. Plain black iron posts start at the lower end of the price range, while galvanized (zinc-coated) ones are pricier.

Barbed wire ($1.50 to $2 per linear foot)

When you’ve got livestock to rein in and fierce roaming predators like wolves and coyotes to keep out, it’s hard to beat this low-cost option. Three to five strands (i.e., tiers) of barbed wire are stretched horizontally between metal posts around the property line, with wood or metal posts installed at corners to hold the wire up. Note that barbed wire fences are only permitted in rural areas.

Hog wire ($3 to $5 per linear foot)

Budget-conscious homeowners will appreciate this dirt-cheap material used to fence in small animals or mark property boundaries. The rigid metal wire is usually strung in a grid-like pattern over a series of large wooden frames; the minimal wood in the design may allow you to splurge on a high-end species like redwood for a more attractive look.

Electric ($1 to $6 per linear foot)

Electric fencing to deter animal and human intruders is popular with homeowners for its low cost and simple setup: a transmitter, receiver, and multiple wire strands strung between vertical wooden posts. These security fences deliver a high-voltage pulse when the wire is breached, so are usually only allowed in rural areas and must be kept clear of roads and highways.

Pallet (free!)

Want a wood fence but don’t want to pay for it? DIY from pallets you can pick up gratis at nurseries, construction sites, and other venues. Pallets can be installed either vertically or horizontally between vertical pallet posts, either with or without space in between. Make sure any pallets you score bear the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) logo, which certifies they were heat-treated or fumigated to prevent the spread of insects or plant diseases. Also, know that pallets can contain splinters and nails—handle with care.

Split rail ($10 to $20 per linear foot)

Traditionally used on farms and ranches to corral animals or mark property boundaries, the split-rail fence has made the leap to the ranch and Southwestern-style homes and beyond. Timber logs, usually cedar or chestnut, are split lengthwise into “rails” and then stacked horizontally between short or tall vertically oriented posts. Because there are eight to 10 inches of space between individual rails, this fencing uses less material than solid varieties, and so costs considerably less.

Picket ($5 to $10 per linear foot)

An enduring symbol of the American Dream, the picket fence is also among the best affordable fence ideas for bringing privacy to the yard, thanks to vertical fence pickets spaced one to three inches apart that are attached to top and bottom horizontal rails. A range of decorative picket styles, including pointed and round, also boost the curb appeal of a Colonial, Craftsman, Cape Cod, or Georgian home.

Dog ear ($15 to $20 per linear foot)

In this modern twist on the picket fence, ideal for Colonial Revival homes, the top of each individual section of fencing takes an inverted curve shape. The fence panels in a dog-ear fence may all be of shorter lengths than the fence posts, adding more visual variety. But more complex woodcuts are needed to achieve fence panels of different heights, hence a higher price than traditional pickets.

Lattice top ($15 to $20 per linear foot)

This unexpected tweak on a solid wood fence is well-suited for Queen Anne or Country French homes. A frame of thin slats, made of wood or metal in a crisscross pattern, is installed on top of a shorter, solid wood fence to let in sunlight and maintain a view to the outdoors while preventing unwanted attention from passersby. Even better? The lattice doubles as a trellis for nearby climbing vines. And because the lattice itself is made of smaller slats rather than full-sized wooden fence panels, you’ll pay less for a lattice-top fence than a traditional full-height fence.

Privet ($1 to $2 per linear foot)

Green thumbs appreciate living privacy “fences,” most commonly made of privet hedges. Depending on the privet species (there are more than 50), the semi-evergreen shrubs grow tall, anywhere from four to 10 feet or more. They can be planted around the entire yard or only a small expanse, and then pruned and sculpted to suit your taste.

Spotted laurel ($8 to $9 per linear foot)

These hardy, bushy plants with green leaves and yellow or brown markings can survive air pollution and salt-bearing winds alike, so popular in places with sub-optimal air quality as well as near the coast. They reach six to 10 feet tall at maturity, ideal for backyard privacy with a burst of colour.

Bamboo ($3 to $6 per linear foot)

These tall and striking plants in the grass family around the perimeter of your property look great with Tropical Modern or California Bungalow homes. Bamboo reaches 10 to 50 feet or higher to boost outdoor shade and comfort. Keep in mind that the more invasive “running” variety of bamboo spreads fast and far, potentially overtaking the land, so stick to the clumping variety that grows in small mounds. Bonus: Bamboo repels deer, so your new fence won’t be food for four-legged neighbours!

Yew ($5 to $6 per linear foot)

This dense, dark, hardy evergreen is a smart choice for a living fence in cloudy and sunny climates alike. Yew is slow-growing, however, usually taking years to reach a mature hedge height of from four to 20 feet or taller, depending on the variety.

How to Build a Privacy Fence

We’ll show you the tricks and techniques that pros use to get a beautiful fence that’ll meet your needs and fit your landscape. These ideas will save you a ton of time, headaches and money by ensuring your DIY fence is done right the first time.

How to build a fence: Make sure a privacy fence actually delivers privacy.

Make sure the fence provides the privacy you want as you learn how to build a fence. Consider if you want a 4 ft fence, a 6 ft fence or an 8 ft fence.

You may build a 6-ft. high privacy fence only to find that the next-door neighbours can easily see over when they’re lounging on their deck. Or you may find that your 6-ft. tall privacy fence only needed to be 4 ft. tall because surrounding areas slope away from your yard. Either way, you’re wasting materials, money and time building a fence that doesn’t suit your yard.

To determine how to build a fence, consider how high a privacy fence needs to be, and other privacy fence ideas. It’s also a good idea to have a helper walk around the perimeter with a cardboard screen cut to the height of your proposed fence. Sitting and standing, follow the view above the cardboard as it’s moved to determine the amount of privacy your fence will actually provide as you decide how to build a wood fence. Check out our Melbourne fencing services services here. 

You can quickly decide how high your fence needs to be or whether it’s impractical to build a fence high enough to screen your yard. Then consider alternatives such as fast-growing dense trees or bushes that aren’t subject to the same height restrictions as fences. Or, if you have a patio or spa you’d like to seclude, build a privacy screen just around that area.

Space your post just under 8 ft. apart

Keep the fence posts 8 ft. apart or less to keep the fence from sagging as you plan how to build a fence.

Fewer posts will save you some digging, but in the long run, wind and gravity will make you pay for it in your privacy fencing.

The more posts you have, the stronger your outdoor privacy fence will be. A good rule of thumb is to space posts just under 8 ft. apart to make sure your fence doesn’t sag. That’ll also give the fence enough strength to stand up to wind, and you’ll be able to use 8-ft. rail material economically. The best way to layout the posts while you determine how to build your fence is to drive stakes to mark hole locations exactly 8 ft. apart. The post thicknesses will give you the few inches of fudge factor you need to allow for variations when you’re building the panels in between the posts.

Plan on at least three horizontal 2x4s or two 2x6s to support the weight of each fence panel. Scrimp on horizontal material, and you may wind up with panels that sag even if they span less than 8 ft. between each post.

Apply for a fence-building permit and learn local rules as learning how to build a fence

There’s more than one reason to get a fence-building permit from city hall. Build it in the wrong place or too high, and you may wind up being forced to tear it down. And fences are so prominent that if you build without a permit, chances are you’ll get caught and will have to buy one anyway—and pay a fine. When you apply for a fence permit, you’ll get a copy of the rules that apply to fences in your area. It’ll include required setbacks from property lines, sidewalks and roads, as well as allowable heights, which will usually vary from front to back yards.

If you live in a development that has its own private regulations, check with the association or planning committee too. Its rules are maybe even more stringent than the town’s or city’s rules. Some regulations even include colour or material selections. You may have to provide a sketch for design approval if you want a backyard wood fence.

Find the property lines before you build

Guessing at your property lines is taking a huge risk. Get it wrong, and you may wind up tearing down a costly DIY fence to move it off someone else’s property.

Begin with a plot plan to help you home in on the property stakes that mark the corners of your yard. You can generally go to city hall and buy a photocopy of your plot plan if you don’t already have one. Don’t assume your lot is perfectly square or rectangular, either. Lots can be wedge-shaped or have unusual jogs, especially in newer developments. Anywhere your property lines make a change in direction, there will be a property stake to mark that point.

Rent a metal detector to help you find the exact location of your iron property stakes. They’ll be buried up to several inches below grade, so if the detector beeps in different areas surrounding the suspected stake location, it’s a good idea to do a little excavation to make sure you’ve found the stake and not a lost quarter. As you find the iron stakes, pound wooden stakes directly over them. Then use the stakes to lay out the fence line at the proper setback.

Plan at least two fence gates and make them extra wide

Ever live in a house where the gates were too small or in the wrong place? Then you know what a hassle it is walking around half your property to access the yard or shoehorning wheelbarrows or whatever through too-small fence gates. Spend some time thinking about access to your yard. If you have a neighbour you like to visit, would like to access your back yard from both sides of your house, or would like easier access to the park behind the house, it’s worth adding more gates.

Pedestrian access can be handled with 3-ft.wide gates. But lawn tractors, wheelbarrows and garden carts call for more spacious 4-ft.wide gates or even double 3-ft.gates for a full 6 ft. of access.

Make one entire fence panel removable.

As a contractor, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to take down a section of fence for delivery of materials or for heavy equipment. When possible, we’d hoist stuff over the fence, but it was always difficult, and sometimes we ended up damaging the fence, the materials or even some back muscles.

One thing’s for sure. At some point, you’re going to need to get something really big into your yard. Perhaps it’s heavy equipment to move soil around or dig a pool. Maybe a couple of times a year you’ll want to deliver a load of firewood or mulch with the pickup. Be prepared. Plan on having a removable panel in the area of the yard that’s most accessible from the road or alley.

You can make a removable panel by simply toe screwing the rails to the adjacent posts. But for panels that’ll be removed frequently, small joist hangers or pockets made from angle iron will be more convenient.

Vary the fence design to suit different needs

A solid, high fence may wall off prying eyes, but it also walls you in. And such a boring, monolithic and material-intensive design may not be all that necessary. Your fence doesn’t have to be one continuous design, height or even material. For example, if your yard abuts a wooded area, perhaps an inexpensive, low chain-link fence will do the job so you can keep the dog in but enjoy a view of the woods, too. Perhaps on either side of the house facing the street a nicely designed, handsome fence with a welcoming gate is called for. And on the side of the yard facing the neighbour you’re not too fond of, a 6-ft. high, low-cost, utilitarian privacy fence will do the job.

Altering fence styles or configurations to match different parts of your yard can be a successful strategy to keep down the cost of materials and lighten the labour load. It can even make the yard more interesting. Plan on higher fences to guard privacy and lower ones to keep the price down and improve the view.

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