Should I Fence My Front Yard? (Regulations and Guidelines)

A fence around the front yard makes life easier around the home, especially if we have pets and children. It creates a barrier between our house and the street and makes homes look more attractive. As a homeowner, we might wonder if it’s worth building and what the regulations and guidelines are.

Homeowners should fence their front yards to establish property lines, make their houses look more attractive, or add more privacy. A fence is also the perfect way to stop unwanted people and creatures coming in and small children or animals from getting out.

Before building a front yard fence, check the rules and regulations locally, and you might need to obtain a permit. Front fences must be sturdy and well-kept and might have to meet style guidelines. If you want to know everything about fencing a front yard, look at the information below.

An image of a Residential Decorative Fence Building by a Professional Caucasian Worker. Finishing Fence Assembly.

Why do People Fence Their Front Yards?

People like to fence their front yards for privacy and security or to add value to their homes. A fence clearly defines boundaries and makes a house look more attractive to buyers.  

Fences are functional and decorative – they create a boundary between our personal space and the outside world, and we can get creative with their design. They’re also a fantastic security measure for children or animals.

When Should I Fence my Front Yard?

The best time to fence a front yard is springtime after the ground is thawed. The ground is not too hard or soft in the spring, and the mild weather will not damage or warp the materials. If we live in a dry, warm climate, we can fence the yard pretty well any time of year.

Dry and mild conditions are the best for erecting a fence. In the winter, the ground can be frozen or waterlogged. Working outside in harsh weather is unpleasant, and heavy rain will flood the fence holes.

Building a fence in the height of summer isn’t good because extreme heat can dry out the ground, making it hard to dig. The heat can also warp and split the wood before it’s installed.

If you have to install a fence in the summer, soak the ground a day or two before digging any holes to make life a little bit easier for yourself. And having a shade umbrella handy will also make the job less miserable.

Another note on building a wooden fence: it’s good to build wooden fences in the fall to let the wood season over the winter before exposing it to the summer sun. If we use a company to install the fence, they will be busy during spring, and sometimes we can get a discount if we hire them out of season.

How Can I Make My Front Yard Private?

The best way to make a front yard private is with a fence. Solid panels are the best privacy fences because they don’t have gaps. If local laws or guidelines require owners to build a fence with gaps – they can use vegetation to fill them in.

Plant shrubs and bushes along the fence, or use potted plants, like long grasses and bamboo, to provide more privacy. We can grow vines on a trellis fence or use faux plants and hedges as a low-maintenance alternative to live plants to cover gaps.

If we use vegetation to add privacy to the garden, we usually can’t grow vegetation higher than the fence. In most cases, fencing guidelines and regulations include vegetation.

An image of a Covered Porch And Fence At Sunset.

What Regulations and Guidelines Do I Need to Know About Fencing my Yard?

Before building a fence, find out about regulations and guidelines such as zoning laws or Homeowner Association guidelines. An owner may also need a land survey or building permit and must check for utility lines on their property. It is also good manners to speak with the neighbor.  

If we don’t follow regulations and guidelines, we might have to take the fence down, which is a massive waste of time and money. It’s vital to ensure a fence is legal before building it.

We’ll look at seven regulations and guidelines about building a fence in a front yard below.

#1 – Homeowner’s Association

A Homeowners Association (HOA) is a board of people from the community who set and enforce rules about property development and maintenance in the neighborhood.

We’ll automatically become a member if we buy property under the jurisdiction of an HOA and often have to pay a monthly fee. You’ll find out about it at closing (when you buy the property) or on renting, as we’ll be required to sign the HOA’s covenants (what they call their rules).

If we are in an area with a homeowners association, we must check with them about regulations before building a fence.

The HOA will provide the rules and restrictions about fencing in the neighborhood regarding height, color, and material. The rules are different for each HOA and come in a document called Covenants, Conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs).

These Covenants include guidelines on the structure and maintenance of properties. Owners must adhere to HOA regulations because they can issue fines if they break their rules.

#2 – Ordinances

Local ordinances are also known as development codes or zoning laws, which are municipal laws that dictate the rules about building in an area. Zone laws vary a lot between regions and might include a restriction on fence height and materials.

We can find out about ordinance regulations from our local city hall or magistrate. Most zoning laws state that a fence must not obstruct the view of road users or be constructed with materials that might cause injuries, such as barbed wire, electricity, and spikes.

They also state that front yard fences must be fifteen feet from the street line or curb.

#3 – A permit

Depending on where we live and the type of fence we want, we may need to obtain a building permit from the municipal authority to ensure it’s legal. We’ll probably need one if we live in an environmentally protected or historical area.

We might also need a permit to build a tall fence or one with masonry. If we contract a company to build a fence, they might be able to obtain the permit for us.

#4 – Property survey

Before building a fence, we need to establish the legal property boundaries; we can do this with a property survey. We can use an existing survey, but we must get one done if there isn’t one.

With a property survey, we can identify legal boundaries to prevent disputes over the fence. Usually, we must submit a property survey if applying for a building permit.  

#5 – Talk to your neighbors

We don’t always have to talk with our neighbors before building a fence, but it shows good manners, etiquette, and community spirit. In some cases, we must talk with them to clarify boundaries.

The neighbor must agree if we want to put the fence directly on the boundary. We don’t need their permission if we are off the line.

#6 – Keep with the neighborhood style

We all have our individual styles and tastes, but as a general rule, we should try and keep our fence similar to other houses in the area. They might be that way due to restrictions, and if ours stands out too much, it could decrease the home’s value.

#7 – Check for utility lines

Before installing a fence, we must ensure we won’t disturb utility lines. Check with the utility company to get a clear idea about the utility lines in the front yard.

Does a Front Fence Add Value to Your Home?

A front fence can add value to a home because potential buyers will find the extra security and privacy appealing. It will also improve the home’s aesthetics, making it more attractive to buyers.

Many people buying a home have pets and or kids. They appreciate the security of a fence, and it could be the selling point. There’s no guarantee that we’ll get our investment back on the fence if we sell our house, but it will give us a better chance of selling.

Landscaping can account for up to fifteen percent of our property’s value, and a fence gives the home more “Curb appeal.”

Do fences lower property value?

If a fence is poorly built, outdated, or in bad condition, it could lower the property value. We must ensure it complements the house, garden, and neighborhood and is tasteful and stylish. If the fence is in bad condition, it will go against the value of a home.  

Low-maintenance, long-lasting fences, such as vinyl, add the most value to the property. High-maintenance fences, such as wood, can put a buyer off.

An image of a Male carpenter showing new made wooden low fence in carpentry at a woodworking workshop, a woodworking machinery background, short fence in natural country style.

Is Building a Fence a Good DIY Project?

Building a fence is a good DIY project if we have the right tools and manpower – building a fence usually requires two or more people. A DIY fence isn’t a complicated project, but it usually requires intermediate-level DIY skills.

Here are three things to consider before starting a DIY fence project:

#1 – The plan

Before building a fence, make a clear plan which includes the length, height, and materials. In the planning stage, check which restrictions or guidelines are important regarding zoning laws or from a homeowners association. We may also need to get a land survey or apply for a building permit.

#2 – The materials

The next thing to consider when building a fence is the materials. Choose the materials according to your budget, needs, and style. Depending on local zoning laws or HOA restrictions, you might be restricted to certain materials.

Here are some common materials people use for DIY fencing projects.

  1. Metal – Includes iron, aluminum, and chainlink. Metal fences are durable, and wrought iron gives the best impression of security but isn’t suitable for DIY unless we’re a welder. Chain Link fences are cheap and easy to erect but look very casual.
  2. Wood – Is the most affordable fencing, and Cedar and Redwood are the most popular types for their durability. Wood fences look attractive and have an appealing classic design, but they need lots of maintenance. Pressure-treated wood is more resistant to rot and insects.
  3. Vinyl – Vinyl fences are one of the most expensive, but they are long-lasting, easy to clean, and need little to no maintenance. A vinyl fence will last around 20 – 30 years.
  4. Masonry – Such as brick and stone are the most expensive and durable fencing materials. Unless we’re skilled professionals, we won’t be able to build a brick-and-mortar fence as a DIY project. But a dry-fitted stone fence is doable for most DIYers.
  5. Composite – Composite material is a mix of wood and plastic fibers that looks like wood but has the characteristics of plastic – it’s less susceptible to rot and bugs. Composite fences are long-lasting and low maintenance.

#3 – The tools

Before building a fence, we must ensure we have the correct tools to complete the project. Fence-building tools are pretty straightforward to obtain.

Here’s a list of the tools generally needed to build a DIY fence:

  1. Tape measure
  2. Laser or bubble leveler
  3. Steaks and twine
  4. Pencil
  5. Post hole digger
  6. Work gloves
  7. Marking paint
  8. Cordless drill
  9. Shovel
  10. Hammer

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the building materials needed for a DIY fence:

  1. Fence posts
  2. Fence panels
  3. Gravel
  4. Quick setting concrete
  5. Fence post caps
  6. Exterior screws
An image of a Young woman in a home DIY project making a fence of wooden planks outside in the backyard.

How To Build A DIY Fence

To build a DIY fence, first, make sure to have the right tools, materials, and a work partner. Mark the area to build on with stakes and twine, and dig the post holes accordingly. Add the panels to complete the fence when the posts are in place.  

Below, I’ll tell you how to build a DIY fence in 4 easy steps:

Step #1 – Mark the area

The first thing to do when we build a fence is to mark the area with stakes and twine. Put the stakes in the places where we want the posts – usually between 6 – 8 feet apart. Use the twine to connect the stakes – it should be a few inches off the floor.

Use the twine as a guideline to line the ground with marking paint.

Step #2 – Dig the holes

Next, dig the post holes using a post hole digger and shovel. The distance between posts depends on the length of the fence panels. The holes must be half the length of the fence post deep and three times the width of the posts.

Step #3 – Fill the holes and add the posts

After digging the holes, fill them with 6 inches of gravel and use the fence post to pack it in. Two-thirds of the fence post should fit into the hole, and treat wooden poles before burying them to prevent rot.

Place the pole upright in the hole and hold it in place while your workmate fills the hole with dry cement mix – stopping when it reaches ground level.

Next, use the leveler to ensure the post is straight – check on both sides. When the pole is straight, pour water over the cement. It takes around 20 minutes to set, but don’t put the panels up until it’s completely dry – which is about 4 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to use cement mix, you can layer gravel with dirt (dug out of the hole) to create a DIY cement that will hold the post in place just fine. You will need to pack it in very well, so tamp it down every inch or so. The shovel handle makes a great fence hole-tamping tool in a pinch.

Step #4 – Attach the panels

The final step is to fix the fence panels to the posts. The ends of the panels should be in the center of each post, and we’ll usually attach them with screws. Use the leveler to ensure the panels are straight before attaching them.

Treat the wooden fences with a wood stain and add post caps to prevent rotting and prolong their life.

An image of Tybee Island Light House white fence of Tybee Island, Georgia, USA.

Where Do You Start a Fence? At The Front or Back?

Starting to build a fence depends on an owner’s needs. They should start at the front if they want their property to look more attractive and give it curb appeal.

The front is also more open to the street and strangers, so if there are pets and children, we will benefit from starting the fence at the front. If we need privacy in our backyard – start it at the back first.

How Tall Should a Front Yard Fence Be?

A front yard fence should be between 2 and 4 feet tall. In most cases, the maximum height for front fences is 4 feet, compared to 6 feet for a backyard fence. The maximum height might be smaller for front fences, depending on where we live.

Local zoning laws and Homeowners Associations usually have rules about fencing, and they will dictate how tall a front yard fence should be. If we want it for security and privacy, we should build the tallest one possible.

We can use a smaller fence if it is more for decoration and establishing a boundary.

Best Products For Fencing a Front Yard

While it’s possible to do a DIY project without the right tools, having the right tools handy makes building a fence so much easier. Here are the tools we’ve loved having as we’ve built our own fences. We’re also listing a few that we’d like to have on hand for future fence projects.

Best DIY fencing options:

The best option for a DIY fencing option depends on what kind of fence you want. If you’re starting out, I recommend going to your closest Home Depot to check out options and get an idea of what local prices will cost you.

Pro tip: already done your in-person research? Great. You can order what you need online from Home Depot for faster pickup.

Here are some other online shopping options because they’re sure handy.

Best fencing tool options

  • Torpedo level – you will need one to ensure the fence looks level. This is a great online option, although you could also pick one up at your local tool store.
  • Plenty of twine – twine will make laying out the fencing area 10 to 100 times easier. Get plenty of twine!
  • A heavy-duty shovel makes life easier. This is a great online option, although I’d recommend buying one in person to save on shipping costs.
  • An auger drill (like this one) makes digging post holes much more manageable.
  • Don’t work without suitable work gloves. Ever. End of story. Buy some good ones, even if it’s from an online store.
  • A solid drill (and a backup battery) makes every DIY project smoother. If you’ve got a favorite brand, go for it. I like Husky from Home Depot, although a Black and Decker drill also works.

Best DIY fence paint options

This will depend on the type of fence you’ve got and the materials it’s made of.

  • Stain a stain like this one is great for wooden fences.
  • Paint -other materials will do better with paints or spray paints. Spray paint is easily 10X easier than regular paint, but it’s also more expensive.

You won’t necessarily need all of these, but when you do need them? You’ll wish you had them already.

An image of an Outdoor patio space with a white fence and furniture.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

If we have young children or animals, building a fence around the front yard will help keep them safe and secure. A fence will also add privacy to a garden and potentially add value to the home.

Before we install a fence, we must check with the homeowner’s association – if we have one, and our local authority to see if we need a permit. We should also get a land survey to verify the legal boundary and ensure the construction doesn’t interfere with utility lines.

If you have ever considered acoustic fencing for soundproofing, read this article: Does Acoustic Fencing Work?


Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These sources were used in this article and our research to be more informed as we DIY and decorate our homestead.

  • 7 Ways to Make Your Yard More Private. (2022, April 27). MYMOVE.
  • All About Fence Building Permits and Approvals. (2022, January 10). The Spruce.
  • Easy Guide To Building A Wooden Fence | Buildworld UK. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from
  • Fence Building Law Basics for Homeowners. (2022, February 3). The Spruce.
  • How to Build a Fence. (2021, July 8). The Spruce.
  • What Is a Homeowners Association (HOA) and How Does It Work? (2021, October 26). Investopedia.
  • When Is The Best Time Of Year To Install A New Fence? (2021, November 8). R & J Landscapes (London).
  • Zoning Ordinance. (2022, March 9). Investopedia.

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