Why Can’t You Have Fences Over A Certain Height?

Fences come in many different heights, and for good reason: different sized fences serve different purposes. Depending on your needs, wants, and can-dos, you may choose a short 3 foot picket fence or an 8 foot fortress of privacy. The placement of your fence, such as your front yard or backyard, can affect the height of your ideal fence. Unfortunately, local regulations may dictate height for you and limit your options. That’s often the first concern for homeowners, but it’s not the only reason to think about height. Here are some considerations when deciding on the perfect fence height for your yard.

4′ High Spaced White Cedar Picket Fence

Local Regulations Regarding Fence Height

Fence regulations are typically governed by local law or a homeowners’ association. In many municipalities, six feet is the maximum height for a backyard fence, while a four foot fence may be used in front of your home. One reason front yard fences are smaller is because taller fences can block the sight-lines of cars, creating blind corners at intersections and putting children and pets in danger. Depending on your location, you may be able to build an open fence (such as an aluminum fence) higher because it allows for visibility.

Applying for a Variance for a Higher Fence

If you have specific reasons for wanting a higher fence, you will need to apply for a variance when you submit your fence permit application to the local building and code department. A reason for building an 8 foot fence, for example, might include owning property that’s next to a commercial building or backing up to a wooded area that deer frequent. A variance will make it harder to get your permit approved—but how hard depends on your local code enforcement rules and officers, as well as whether or not your neighbors support your fence plan.

HOA-Imposed Fence Restrictions

Your homeowner’s association (HOA) may have even stricter regulations than your municipality when it comes to things like fence height, color, and material. Check the bylaws of your association prior to starting your project to avoid being fined or asked to remove your fence!

Choosing Your Fence’s Height Based on Functionality

The reason you want a fence likely has a lot to do with how high you want your fence to be.

Privacy Fences

If you are searching for privacy and don’t want your neighbors to be able to see into your yard, you’ll probably want a fence as high as possible. A six foot fence made out of solid wood or vinyl panels, rather than widely spaced pickets, will give you the most privacy in your backyard.

Fences to Protect Your Garden

If you are walling off your garden you are probably looking for a fence that will help keep animals – and trampling feet – away from your plants, while still accentuating the look of flowers, vegetables and herbs. If deer and large mammals are not a concern for you, a shorter fence can help delineate your garden space. An open fence may allow animals like moles, groundhogs or rabbits to get at your plants, though. A taller, deer fence may be as high as 8 feet, but would need a variance and likely block the view of the plants you are trying to protect.

A fence helps protect and accentuate your garden.

Pet Fences

If you are a pet owner, one main reason to get a fence is to allow your dog access to the yard. Some small dogs or dogs that cannot jump will do fine with shorter fences, but in general, a 6 foot fence is appropriate for containing your dog – and making sure other animals don’t get into your yard to terrorize your pets.

Pools fences are great for safety and looks!

Pool Fences

For those lucky enough to have a pool, a pool fence is required by law to help restrict access, as an accidental fall into a body of water can be dangerous. These fences do not need to be solid privacy fences, and many people choose to make them open aluminum or vinyl fences, both of which resist moisture damage much better than wood. Most pool fences are about 4 feet in height, but you will have to check local ordinances for legal requirements.

Fences for Defining Your Property

Finally, some people simply want a nice looking fence to delineate property, separating it from the neighbors or the street, and enhancing the curb appeal of their home. In this case, your fence can obviously be any height. Most people choose shorter, 3 foot picket fences for the front yard. You can do the same for the backyard, but keep in mind how a shorter fence may look in your backyard, as well as the resale value of your home – the next property owner may be looking for privacy, gardening space, or a dog fence!

Do I Need to Replace My Fence If It’s Too Short?

A fence with a lattice extension.
If the previous owner of your property, or even you (before your needs changed) installed a fence that is now too short, there may be a solution. Adding a fence extension can create up to 8 feet of height for your fence. This added portion may also be angled to help contain dogs who like to jump or to keep deer out of your yard. While a solid privacy fence might be 6 feet height, adding an additional two foot extension will give you an added visual component, since those last two feet will be made of lattice or open work to reduce wind resistance.

Additionally, if you have a fence in good condition that is too tall for your needs, it may be possible to have it cut down to a smaller size, depending on the materials and installation. This is a project best suited to a fence professional, so contact us today to discuss your fence – and the perfect height for your yard.



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