As the neighbour says in the Robert Frost poem "Mending Wall": "Good fences make good neighbours." Boundary fences have long been a source of debate between neighbours. Knowing the regulations that apply to boundary fences is the first step in keeping the peace with your neighbours.
Know the Law
No matter where you live, there are laws to govern boundary fences. You should know if your area is governed by a "fence-in" or "fence-out" law. The latter is sometimes also referred to as "open range." States with open ranch land, such as Colorado, require the individual to fence his land if he wishes to keep livestock off his property, according to the Bureau of Land Management. In "fence-in" areas, the property owner is required to build and maintain fences suitable for his livestock to protect his neighbours' properties.
Zoning regulations vary from place to place, so be sure to check with local authorities. Residential boundary fences typically may be no higher than 4.5 feet in front. Backyard fences commonly are restricted to 6 feet. When measuring the height of the fence, measure from the top of the fence to the lowest grade at the bottom of the fence. Residential fences may be constructed of any material that is aesthetically pleasing to all parties.
Fences to contain livestock may be made of strand wire, woven wire or boards to hold livestock along boundary lines. Fence posts may be treated or untreated, depending on the life you wish to get out of the fence. According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, treated wood posts have a useful life of anywhere from 15 to 30 years, depending on the wood chosen. Untreated posts will usually require replacement in less than a decade. If barbed wire is used to contain livestock (not recommended for horses), the fence should be 5 feet high and contain four to five strands of wire, and posts should be driven 12 to 20 feet apart.
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