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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Fence Is Best Marker--by Leaps and Boundaries

December 07, 1991|From Associated Press

A fence is the most popular form of boundary marker or garden screen because of its advantages over other methods of dividing plots of land.

A fence takes very little time to erect when contrasted with a wall or especially a hedge, which takes years to establish, says Popular Mechanics magazine. Most fencing components are relatively lightweight and are therefore easy to transport and handle on-site.

In the short term, a fence is cheaper than a wall built of masonry, although one can argue that the cost of maintenance and replacement over a very long period eventually cancels out the saving in cost.

Wood does have a comparatively short life because it is susceptible to insect infestation and rot when exposed to the elements, but a fence will last for many years if it is treated regularly with a chemical preservative. In any case, if you are prepared to spend a little money on plastic and concrete components, you can erect a virtually maintenance-free fence.

When you measure even a small garden, you will be surprised by the overall length of fencing required to surround your property, so it is worth considering the available options carefully to make sure that you invest your money in the kind of fence that will be most suitable.

Unless your priority is to keep neighborhood children or animals out of your garden, the amount of privacy afforded by a fence is likely to be your most important consideration. There are a number of privacy options, but you may have to compromise to some extent if you plan to erect a fence on a site exposed to strong prevailing winds.

In that case you will need a fence that will provide you a decent windbreak without offering such resistance that the posts will work loose within a couple of seasons due to constant buffeting by the wind.

You can build any fence up to about 6 feet high without a zoning variance unless your boundary adjoins a highway, in which case permissible fence height may be limited.

In addition, there may be local restrictions on fencing if the land surrounding your house has been designed as an open-plan area. Even so, many authorities will permit low boundary markers such as ranch-style or post-and-chain fences.

At least discuss your plans with your neighbors, especially because you will require their permission to enter onto their properties, and it is always an advantage to work from both sides when erecting a fence.

Check the line of the boundaries to make certain that you do not encroach on neighbors' land. The fence posts should run along the boundary or on your side of the line. Before you dismantle an old fence, make sure it is yours to demolish.

If a neighbor is unwilling to replace an unsightly fence, or even to allow you to replace it at your expense, there is nothing to stop you from erecting another fence alongside as long as it is on your property.

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