In the world of suburban landscapes and neighbourhood camaraderie, the positioning of a fence can often lead to a peculiar dilemma - who gets the good side? This seemingly trivial question carries with it nuances of etiquette, property rights, and mutual respect among neighbours. Whether you're installing a new fence or pondering the state of an existing boundary, understanding the conventions and legalities can help maintain harmony in your community.

The Essence of Fence Etiquette

Fence etiquette is rooted in a blend of unwritten rules and legal stipulations that guide how neighbours should share the responsibilities and benefits of a boundary fence. Traditionally, the "good side" of a fence, defined by the smoother, more finished appearance, faces outward. This practice not only enhances the curb appeal of a property but also presents a uniform, pleasant view to the community and passersby.

Legal Considerations

In the UK, there are no hard-and-fast legal rules dictating which way a fence should face. The Land Registry documents may sometimes provide guidance on the ownership of a boundary feature, but this is often vague and open to interpretation. It's always advisable to consult these documents and understand any covenants or restrictions that apply to your property before making decisions about fencing.

The Principle of Mutual Benefit

When deciding on the orientation of a fence, the principle of mutual benefit should prevail. The installation and maintenance of a boundary fence is ideally a shared responsibility, with both parties benefiting from privacy, security, and aesthetics. Communicating openly with your neighbour about plans for a fence can lead to a mutual agreement that serves both parties' interests.

Installation and Maintenance: Shared Responsibilities

The etiquette surrounding the installation and maintenance of fences encourages neighbours to share the costs and effort involved. In cases where one party wishes to have the "good side" facing their property, they might offer to bear a greater share of the cost or take on more responsibility for ongoing maintenance as a gesture of goodwill.

Navigating Disputes

Despite the best efforts to maintain cordial relations, disputes over fences can arise. In such instances, mediation is often the most constructive approach. Local councils typically encourage neighbours to resolve disputes amicably without intervention. However, legal advice may be sought if an agreement cannot be reached.

Tips for Harmonious Fence Management

  1. Communicate Early and Often: Before making any decisions, discuss your plans with your neighbour. This can foster goodwill and prevent misunderstandings.
  2. Seek Agreement in Writing: Once an agreement is reached, it's wise to document this in writing, outlining details of the agreement regarding installation, orientation, maintenance, and cost-sharing.
  3. Consider the Aesthetics: Choosing a fence design that looks good from both sides can eliminate the issue of who gets the good side, ensuring mutual satisfaction.
  4. Be a Good Neighbour: Demonstrating flexibility and consideration can go a long way in maintaining positive relationships with your neighbours.


The question of who gets the good side of the fence is more than just a matter of physical orientation; it's about fostering neighbourliness and mutual respect. By approaching fence installation and maintenance with consideration and open communication, neighbours can ensure that both the tangible and intangible benefits of their shared boundary are equally enjoyed. Remember, the foundation of any agreement should be built not just on legal rights, but on the principles of kindness, understanding, and co-operation.