Wood, metal and vinyl are all common materials to construct a new fence from but there are many limitations you should consider. Many cities will specify a maximum fence height (3’-6’), limit the areas of your property where a fence can be installed and further limit the type of materials that your fence can be constructed of. In case you are not aware of these city specific fence installation details, they will be explained to you when applying for a fence installation permit or easily accessible when researching the zoning regulations/municipal code for your area on the internet.
I understand that there are many times when a conventional hard material fence is the best choice. A wood, metal or vinyl fence is best when you have young children to protect, pets to retain or even a swimming pool to secure.
However if your goal is to shield a nearby neglected adjacent property from view, create a formidable impassable barrier or to further enhance a line of sight view from a point on your property than consider planting a live screen instead of installing a fence.
Here are a few additional benefits and details to consider when planting a live screen on your property.
- Live screen plant material can be trained, trimmed, pruned, supported, etc. to occupy precisely the right area in need of physical or visual shielding.
- Depending on the budget and planting space available, a visually complete live plant screen may take several years to grow and fill in.
- Choose multiple evergreen plants (foliage remains green year round), deciduous plants (loses foliage at end of growing season) or a combination of the two for best site specific results.
- Be careful to choose the correct plant material that will not likley outgrow the limited space available (under low hanging power lines, near driveways, along sidewalks, close to neighbor’s property, etc.) for best long term results.
- In most cases there are very few (if any) height, choice of plant material or planting location restrictions from local zoning/municipal authorities.
- Be sure to remember that the larger the plant is at time of installation, the more expensive it will likely be (greater material, delivery and installation costs).
- Neighborhood metal, wood or vinyl fences are easily duplicated and are very common. A well thought out plant material screen is very unique and will increase in value as time passes and as plants have a chance to mature.
- Maintenance on either a hard material fence or a live plant screen varies greatly (heavily dependent on environment, installation and selected site specific materials used) and should be scrutinized during the beginning planning stage to determine the right choice to satisfy your long term needs.
- Visit a few reputable local nurseries to see the various types of screen plants available (upright arborvitae, spruce, upright juniper, privet, viburnum, cotoneaster, honeysuckle, etc.).
Hopefully this information will prove useful to you when determining your property specific screening or fencing options.