When it comes to installing a fence, one common question that perplexes many homeowners is, "Which side of the fence should face me?" It's a valid concern, considering the aesthetic, privacy, and legal implications tied to your decision. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the factors you should consider to make an informed choice about the orientation of your new fence.

Understanding Fence Etiquette

Before we dive into specifics, it's essential to grasp the fundamentals of fence etiquette. Generally, the "good" side of the fence, which is the more finished and aesthetically pleasing side, should face outward towards your neighbours or the street. This unwritten rule stems from courtesy and respect for the external appearance of your neighbourhood or community. However, laws and regulations regarding fence installation can vary significantly by location, so it's crucial to research and comply with local codes and homeowner association guidelines.

Legal Considerations

In many regions, local ordinances dictate the direction a fence must face. Some areas require the smooth side of the fence to face outward as part of their bylaws to maintain a uniform street appearance. Additionally, if your fence will be on the boundary line between your and your neighbour’s property, you might need to obtain their agreement before starting construction. Ignoring these regulations can lead to fines or being ordered to redo the fence correctly.

Aesthetic Appeal

From an aesthetic standpoint, presenting the "good" side outwards generally enhances curb appeal and contributes positively to the overall look of the neighbourhood. This approach shows consideration for your neighbours and can even positively impact property values.

Maintenance and Durability

Maintenance considerations are also important. Some fence designs have structural elements like rails and posts on one side — the “bad” side. These components are crucial for the fence’s stability and durability but can detract from the fence’s appearance. Having the structural side facing your property can make it easier for you to carry out maintenance without having to access your neighbour's garden.

Security and Privacy

Security and privacy are further aspects to ponder over. A fence with the structure facing inward can offer would-be climbers access points to grip onto, making your home more vulnerable. Conversely, a smooth outer surface can provide fewer footholds, potentially deterring intruders. However, in terms of privacy, possessing the structural side might allow for easier attachment of privacy screens or plants.

Tips for Making Your Decision

  1. Check Local Regulations: Before making any decisions, consult your local planning department or homeowner's association to understand the specific rules applicable to your area.
  2. Discuss With Neighbours: If your fence will affect neighbouring properties, a friendly discussion can prevent future disputes and foster good relations.
  3. Consider Maintenance Access: Think about how you'll access the fence for maintenance and repairs and ensure you can do so without encroaching on others' property.
  4. Balance Aesthetics and Functionality: Try to find a fence design that meets your needs for privacy and security while also conforming to local conventions and looking attractive from both sides.
  5. Professional Consultation: When in doubt, consult with a fencing professional. They can offer advice tailored to your situation, considering local regulations, the terrain of your land, and the desired outcome of your fence installation.


Installing a fence on your property involves more than just defining boundaries; it requires a thoughtful approach considering legal, aesthetic, and relational aspects. By researching local regulations, engaging in open communication with your neighbours, and carefully considering the function and look of your fence, you can ensure that your fence installation meets your needs while also respecting those of the surrounding community. Remember, the goal is to enhance your property’s privacy and security without compromising on neighbourly goodwill or aesthetic appeal.