Privacy Fence Etiquette

For homeowners with outdoor dogs, fences are a way of life. But even those without pets sometimes choose to put up privacy fences as a way of defining their yard space and enjoying their property without feeling as though they are on display. Fences not only add enhancement to a backyard, they can act as safety measures, keeping others from trespassing. With all of their benefits, though, privacy fences have a code of etiquette that should be followed.

The Ugly Side

Probably the No. 1 fence etiquette no-no is giving your neighbours the ugly side of your fence. Many homeowners decide that since they are paying for the privacy fence, it should be their right to look at the finished, pretty side when enjoying their backyard. While there is a certain logic to this way of thinking, etiquette maintains that the rail side should face inward. Some housing association regulations actually insist this be the case.

Property Lines

One of the most common disputes between neighbours is where one person's property ends and the other property begins. When putting up a privacy fence, etiquette suggests placing it in a couple of feet, just to make sure every bit of the fence is on your property. This not only avoids a property dispute, but it will legally forbid the neighbour from putting any items on his side of the fence.

Joint Construction

When a neighbour already has an existing fence, it can save time and money to simply build your own privacy fence together with the side that already abuts your lawn. However, fence etiquette requires that you discuss this with the neighbour and make sure he doesn't mind.


Keeping a fence well maintained not only protects your property but it is an important aspect of fence etiquette. That doesn't mean you have to repaint the fence every summer, but it does mean taking care of rot or wide sections of flaking paint. The fence may belong to you, but everyone in the neighbourhood has to look at it.

Neighbour Notification

Perhaps the most important aspect of fence etiquette is to simply consult with the next door neighbours before putting it up. It is not their right to tell you whether you can have a fence (unless you live in a deed restricted neighbourhood that does not permit fencing), but they should be notified in advance. This is particularly true if you anticipate workers being on their property while constructing the fence.

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