Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Five Fencing Etiquette Rules to Follow

As the saying goes, "good fences make good neighbors." This saying is usually meant to indicate that setting and keeping boundaries with your neighbors is a good way to maintain a positive relationship. However, it also has a more literal meaning. If you follow fencing etiquette rules, you and your neighbors will have an easier time getting along and agreeing with one another. Here are five basic fencing etiquette rules to follow.

Ask before making changes to the fence.

If there is an existing fence between your land and your neighbor's land, always show them respect by asking before you make any changes to the fence -- even if the fence technically belongs to you. For example, if you want to replace some of the fence posts, paint the top rail a different color, or hang some plants from the fence, just take a moment to present your plans to your neighbor before moving forward. Chances are, they'll be agreeable with your plans simply because they appreciate that you've included them in the decision. 

Allow them to give input when choosing a new fence.

If you ever need to replace the fence or put up a new fence where there was not one, always ask your neighbor about this, too. Allow them to give some input into the style of fence you choose. This does not mean you have to give them free reign. After all, if you are installing a privacy fence to make your yard feel secluded, you wouldn't want to ask them what type of fence they prefer and find that they want a chain link fence. A better way to approach this is to say "I was thinking of installing a privacy fence. I looked into options x, y, and z from this fencing company. Which one would you prefer?" Or, you could even show them the fence design you want, and ask if they have any color preferences. 

Sometimes, if your neighbor has a very different fence preference from you, they may offer to give you some money towards the cost of the new fence. You should then work with them and be willing to compromise for a fence you can both live with.

Put the "nice" side of the fence towards your neighbor's yard.

If you are paying for the fence, convention is to put the nicer side of the fence towards your neighbor's yard. Of course, there are more modern fence designs that create both sides of the fence to look exactly the same. If you and your neighbor are both contributing financially to installing a new fence, you may want to spring for one of these (more expensive) fence designs; this way, nobody has to settle for the less attractive side.

Offer to maintain both sides of the fence.

If you will be painting or staining the fence, ask your neighbor if they would like you to treat their side of the fence, too. This is better for the fence overall, and it's easier to treat the whole fence at once. It would be considered rude to only treat the side of the fence facing your property -- unless your neighbor has specified that they would prefer to treat their side of the fence independently.

Respect the boundaries the fence represents.

Whether the fence belongs to you or to the neighbor, respect that the fence symbolizes a boundary -- whether you can see through it to their yard or not. Do not climb the fence or allow your children to do so. Keep your dog from digging under the fence or jumping over it, too.

If you follow the rules above when it comes to fencing, you and your neighbors will have an easier time establishing and maintaining a good relationship. For more information, visit a website such as