"Good fences make good neighbors," Robert Frost famously wrote. A well-made privacy fence serves numerous vital functions – not only do they permanently end property line disputes, they also serve as a barrier to wandering animals, discourage prowlers and thieves, and keep you safe from the prying eyes of nosy neighbors.
If you'd rather do something more ornamental or creative than put up a standard wooden or chain link fence, there are plenty of interesting and unique fence designs you can draw inspiration from. Ideally, fences should provide protection while supplementing the care and effort you put into maintaining the attractiveness of your home's exterior.
Wall-and-gate fences are becoming increasingly popular, since they can be made from brick or stone that mimics your home's exterior. Ornamental gating has evergreen charm and appeal, and these fences are extremely sturdy and durable.
Split-rail fences, which were originally developed for use in livestock farming, have become a hit with homeowners seeking to build a primarily decorative (rather than protective) barrier. If you want a taller fence, narrowly spaced wrought iron fence posts reinforced with horizontal bars along the top and bottom edges is a classic standby that has untapped creative potential. Rather than inserting unimaginative, plain vertical bars, you can have them custom-made to create repetitive shapes and patterns when viewed from a distance.
Finally, if you're into gardening, keep in mind that solid fences can create microclimates in your backyard. Fences that trap in heat and humidity, rather than letting air flow freely through the fence posts or bars, can be a boon to the health of your garden's plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Whether you decide to install the fence yourself or hire a fence contractor to do the job depends on how comfortable you are with tools and building, as well as the complexity of your design. If you want to put up a simple, straightforward fence, you can find detailed plans online or through your local home building center that will help you get the job done quickly, inexpensively and easily.
However, fence contractors offer many benefits as well, including expertise, cost control and reliable delivery of results. When considering fence contractors, be sure to ask for examples of their work and go have a look at them yourself. You should also look for contractors who pay attention to small details. For example, if you're putting up a chain link fence and anchoring your fence posts in concrete, the job should be done in two rounds. The posts need to be set and the concrete given a day or two to dry before the actual chain linking is added. Avoid contractors who rush through these steps for the sake of getting an extra job or two done during the intervening time that should have been spent doing the task properly.