In the realm of neighbourly etiquette, few subjects are as perennially debated—and often misunderstood—as the matter of fencing. Who should have the smooth side of the fence facing them? This question may seem trivial at first glance, but in practice, it touches on issues of privacy, property aesthetics, and even legal responsibility.

Understanding Fencing Etiquette

Traditionally, fencing etiquette in the UK suggests that the person who installs the fence owns it, and therefore, should place the more finished side—the side without the posts and rails—towards their neighbour's garden. This not only presents a neater appearance to the neighbour but is also considered a gesture of goodwill.

However, this is not a hard and fast rule and can vary depending on agreements made between neighbours or any relevant local council regulations that might apply. Before taking any action, it's advisable to consult with your neighbour and review local guidelines.

Key Considerations

When contemplating which side of the fence you or your neighbour should have, several key points ought to be considered:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: The finished side of a fence offers a smoother, more polished look. By facing this side outwards, you contribute to the overall visual appeal of the neighbourhood.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Fence ownership comes with the responsibility for its maintenance and repair. If you opt to have the post and rail side, bear in mind that access will be required, possibly through your neighbour’s garden, to carry out any necessary work.
  • Legal Obligations: Be aware of any local authority regulations concerning fence placement. In some instances, council rules might dictate the orientation based on factors like safety and access.
  • Good Neighbour Policy: Open dialogue can help avoid any misunderstandings or disputes. Sharing plans for fencing and coming to a mutual agreement benefits both parties and fosters good relations.

Making the Decision

Deciding who gets which side of a fence should be a collaborative process. Here are a few steps to ensure a harmonious outcome:

  1. Consultation: Start by discussing your fencing plans with your neighbour. This early engagement sets a positive tone for cooperation.
  2. Research: Look into local regulations or homeowner association guidelines that might influence your decision or require specific compliance.
  3. Agreement: Aim to reach an agreement that satisfies both parties. Consider writing down the arrangement to avoid future disagreements.
  4. Professional Installation: Using a professional service can ensure that the fence is installed properly and meets all required specifications, potentially avoiding future issues.


The question of which side of the fence neighbours should have speaks volumes about the importance of community harmony and mutual respect. While traditional etiquette provides a starting point, the best solutions are often found through open communication, consideration of all involved parties, and a thorough understanding of local regulations. By approaching the topic with tact and diplomacy, neighbours can ensure that the physical boundaries between their properties serve to strengthen, rather than strain, their relationship.