A Guide To Choosing The Perfect Type Of Privacy Screen For Your Yard

Posted on: 17 September 2015

Do you wish your yard was a bit more private? Perhaps you want to be able to have backyard barbecues without the neighbors peering in, or maybe you don't want passersby on the sidewalk to see the items on your patio. There are a number of different types of privacy fences to choose from, including vinyl, wooden, chain-link, temporary folding, and living privacy fences. To determine which is the best for you, it's helpful to start by asking yourself a few questions.

How big is your budget?

By considering your budget first, you can narrow down your fencing options considerably. If you have quite a bit to spend, a vinyl or wood privacy fence can provide the ultimate in security and aesthetics. However, vinyl fencing averages between $19 and $22 per foot, which can add up quickly if you need to enclose a large yard. Solid wooden fencing can cost between $17 and $22 per foot.

If you cannot afford to pay that much for a privacy fence, you still have options. Chain link fencing is in the middle price range between $12 and $17 per foot, but you'll have to buy privacy slats at a home improvement store or pay extra to have the fence company install them so that nobody can see through the chain link fence. The cheapest option is likely to plant some small trees, shrubs, or vining plants to create a living privacy screen, or to purchase a portable, fold-out privacy screen at a home improvement store.

How long of a fence do you need?

This question is related to budget. Many homeowners assume they must fence in their whole yard, but this is not necessarily the case. If you're just trying to keep a certain neighbor from looking into your yard, or if you're just trying to block the view from the sidewalk, you may be able to get away with just one straight section of fencing -- and that may permit you to choose a more expensive option than you'd be able to afford if you were to fence in the whole yard.

Do you need security as well as privacy?

In other words, are you just trying to block the view into your yard, or do you want a fence that physically keeps people out? Intruders can easily climb a chain link fence or squeeze between a row of trees, so if you need security in addition to privacy, it may be worth paying more for a solid wood or vinyl fence. Keep in mind that many homeowner's insurance companies offer reduced rates for those with fenced-in yards, so your savings may offset part of the cost of the more expensive, solid fencing.

How much maintenance are you willing to do?

Generally speaking, the cheaper the fence, the more maintenance it requires. You should factor this in carefully as you make your decision. For example, a vinyl fence may cost more, but if you have to take off work every couple months to maintain a wood or living fence, you might end up saving money in the long run with vinyl. Here's a look at the basic maintenance required for common privacy fencing types:

Solid vinyl: Little to no maintenance is required. To clean the fence, simply spray it with a hose or power washer.

Solid wood: Most wood will need to be coated with weather protectant on an annual or semi-annual basis. You'll also need to keep an eye out for insects, like carpenter ants, and perhaps treat the fence with insecticides to keep them away.

Chain link: The fence will need to be sprayed with a rust-proofing agent regularly to prevent premature deterioration. Privacy slats may need to be sprayed with a hose to clean.

Living fence: The exact required maintenance will depend on the tree or shrub species you choose. However, most require frequent pruning, fertilization and watering.

Fold-up portable fence: You'll need to take the fence up and down as needed, as these are typically not sturdy enough to withstand harsh weather like snow and hail.

Which type of privacy fence is right for you? The answer really depends on your wants and needs. Start by thinking about your answers to the questions above, and talk to a fencing contractor for more information. You can also read more on this topic.