neighbor friendly fence

3 Tips on Fence Etiquette


fence neighbor etiquette

Did you know that there is etiquette to be followed when building a fence? Who gets the “better looking” side of the fence, or what we call, the side with no character – flat side? Who’s in charge of the maintenance? Should I talk to my neighbors about installing a fence? Did you know that trees and hedges can also fall under the fence category?

Living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, chances are that your nearest neighbor may live a couple miles away, but, on the other hand, they could be a few feet away. Either way, we recommended following this guide to help avoid any neighborly feuds and miscommunications.

Tip #1: Ensure that your property lines are clearly known.

It would be a bummer if you had to tear down your fence and reinstall it a few inches or a couple of feet from its initial location because it crosses a property line! One way to avoid this all together is to study a plat book in your area.

If it is still unclear where your property starts and ends, we recommend seeking assistance from your local land surveyor, which is the best option. You may be on the same page with your neighbor as to where the property line is located. That may change if they move out and someone new moves in. Some cities may be able to help you locate property lines as a precursor to consulting a land surveyor, however, this is a rare occurrence.

Tip #2: Talk with your Neighbors.

Though you aren’t required to tell your neighbor your plans, it’s considered a courteous gesture to help ensure you don’t sour your relationship between each other. You may be putting up a fence to safeguard your pets and family from would-be threats, but your neighbor might think that you are trying block them out. For example, a 6-foot-tall fence would create a totally different impression than a 4-foot fence. A 4-foot fence is often chest high on most adults allowing you and your neighbors to interact with one another. On the other hand, a 6-foot privacy fence can also benefit both neighbors by offering total privacy. If you or your neighbor frequently entertains guests, enjoy laying out in the backyard on hot summer days, or like to enjoy a nice cold beverage, a 6-foot fence may be the better option. This way you can both enjoy all of the previously mentioned activities without you or your neighbor feeling awkward when you’re in your backyards.

When planning out your fence, it’s a good idea to take into account what the rest of your neighborhood might look like. Choosing a style that matches a common theme may reduce the amount of resistance from your community. Maybe your neighbor has been considering putting one up too, which might be great if you both decide on a certain look and split the cost. This doesn’t happen often but communicating your thoughts and ideas with your neighbors might increase your odds.

During your conversations, mention the maintenance that would need to take place. If it is your fence, then you are responsible for cleaning both sides. Your neighbor might volunteer to clean the side facing their property. To sweeten the deal, you could also offer to your neighbor the option to paint the side of a wooden fence that faces their property. If it is your neighbor installing the fence, you must get their permission if you want to make changes to the fence, like painting it.

Tip #2b: Check with the Homeowners Association.

Also, if you are part of a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) you may be limited to styles, heights, and types, detailed communication is key to keep things running smoothly.

We do want to give you a bit of advice for those of you who have “one of those neighbors” – the type that just can’t be pleased and won’t agree with any of your plans. After every failed attempt to see eye to eye, it is your fence on your property, and you are allowed to do what you please with it – provided that you abide by all of your local ordinances and HOA rules (where applicable).

Tip #3: Install your Fence with the Front Facing your Neighbors.

 What is the front side of a fence? The front side of a fence is considered to be the flat side of the fence, some would say the “better side” and the back side contains the mid-rails and posts. Some fences might not even have a “front” or “back” side, meaning that they look the same on both sides. These types of fences are considered to be “good neighbor” designs and are common among vinyl fences. You can achieve the same look on both sides of a wood fence by adding pickets to both sides of the fence or choose a shadowbox design that has alternating pickets on each side.

how to put up a wooden fence

how to put up a fence

Now that we’ve broken down what the difference is between the front and back sides of a fence, you can start planning your installation. Traditional fence etiquette dictates the front side of the fence faces outward from your property. This also is a good idea to make your property look appealing from the street. If you have ever seen a fence built with the posts and rails facing outward, you would think it looks backwards or inside out. It’s easy to picture this with a traditional picket fence. Also, not only is it more appealing to have the flat side facing outwards, it’s also safer and more secure. If the post and rails faced outward a would-be thief would have an easy foothold to help jump the fence and onto your property.

Who knew just a few tips could help you ensure that you continue to be on good terms with your neighbors? We take pride in helping our community become educated when it comes to fencing. If you have any questions, give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to help!

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For more information on your new fencing project or any other questions you may have, reach out to us by calling (906) 786-1076.


  1. Rhianna Hawk said:
    January 23, 2019 at 10:26 am

    You’re definitely right that it’s important to communicate with your neighbors when putting up a fence, as they’ll have it bordering their property line as well as mine. My husband and I want to set up a fence to help keep our dog in the yard when we send him outside, and we’re pretty sure that our neighbor won’t mind us doing so as long as it looks neat and professional, though your tip to offer to paint their side is definitely worth considering. It’s good to know that we should have the front of the fence facing them, as well, and I do agree that doing so would be more polite than having the raw side face them.

  2. Lloyd Bronson said:
    September 10, 2019 at 9:04 am

    I will be sure to inform my neighbor of the purpose of a new fence installation should the time come so that our relationship does not falter. My spouse and I have been talking with one another about which type of fencing we would like for our new home. I think that I will get into contact with an iron fencing specialist in the near future to inquire about the benefits of this type of material.

  3. CRISTINE said:
    November 13, 2019 at 9:19 am

    I love these articles , always gives me little bit of sense what I need to do and be prepared for Thanks!

    • Delta Fence Team said:
      November 13, 2019 at 11:47 am

      Glad we could help! If you ever have any questions, feel free to give us a call!

      Tristan K.
      Marketing Director
      Fence Sales Assistant

  4. Taylor Wright said:
    January 13, 2020 at 11:56 am

    I found it interesting when you said to consider splitting the cost with a neighbor who is also wanting a fence. My neighbors all have great fences and we want to make sure we fit in with the look of the neighborhood. I’ll use these tips to try and find a good looking fence for our yard.

  5. Shirley said:
    May 24, 2020 at 4:23 am

    We own the fence between neighbors garden.its a lovely fence and did not come cheap.the neighbors house is a private rental but her boyfriend has been their 2yrs and said he s going to paint it bright green and then said he will come round and paint the fence at the bottom of the garden what the landlord owns and paint that bright green too he s very abusive and calls me names

  6. Fran said:
    May 26, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    If you face the bad side to your neighbor, can’t they just nail smooth planks to the fence on their side? Then everyone is happy!!

    • Delta Fence Team said:
      May 26, 2020 at 12:21 pm

      Great point Fran! Some fence styles are identical on either side like the wooden shadow box for example. However, it is still up to the property owner if they want to allow the neighbor to alter the fence and it is also still the property owner’s responsibility to maintain both sides of the fence even if the neighbor adds pickets to the side facing their property. Also, keep in mind some ordinances where applicable require you to have the “finished/flat side” facing outward (towards your neighbors, street, sidewalks, alleys, etc).

      Tristan K.
      Marketing Director
      Fence Sales Assistant

  7. Nilda De Jesus said:
    July 25, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    If neighbor doesn’t help in cost. Fence is not encroaching in neighbor’s property Then neighbor cannot paint, change or hang lights, plants etc. It’s PRIVATE PROPERTY.

  8. Zoe Campos said:
    September 30, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for telling me that I can always consult a local land surveyor in order to determine our property’s boundaries. We really have a good relationship with our neighbors and we don’t want to ruin it by over-installing our planned fence. I’ll try to follow this advice first before hiring contractors for the installation service.

  9. Taylor Hansen said:
    October 15, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Our fence in the backyard is starting to rot and fall apart this year. It’s good to know that land surveyors can determine the property’s boundaries. I’ll keep this in mind before hiring a fence contractor for installing a new fence.

  10. Kim said:
    November 10, 2020 at 7:24 am

    Our neighbor is obsessed with the cleanliness of his fence. He came to us with a request that we hose down the side that faces our yard when we get done mowing. He also asked if we would power wash it. We agreed to both to keep peace. Now he is all upset because, during weed wacking, a stone flew up and put a hole in his fence. We have already agreed to pay for the repair. Now he is saying we are not cleaning the fence often enough and that we have allowed it to become discolored. This is not true- it is still very white with maybe a spot or two of that light green stuff that comes naturally. He said we should be power washing every 2-3 months. We never agreed to that. We plan on doing our fence once a year, so that’s when we would do his. We did so in the spring of this year. BTW, he has to peer between the space between our connecting board in order to see into our yard to check on his fence. Don’t know how he can see discoloration from that vantage point. Is there any legal ramifications of not “keeping up” his fence that faces our property?

    • Delta Fence Team said:
      December 9, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Kim!

      It all depends on your local ordinances. You could contact your local zoning department for guidance as well. Some provisions call for a large enough gap from the property line in order for the landowner to clean their own fence. One option could be to allow your neighbor onto your property to clean the side of the fence facing your property. Another option would be to do what you have been and voluntarily clean “your” side of the fence even though you are not obligated to. The owner is responsible for the repair and upkeep of their own fence. It would be courteous to clean and repair the damaged section of the affected area of the fence that was damaged. Powerwashing could damage the fence, you could refer to another one of our blogs on how to clean your fence for more tips which can be found here:
      Tristan K.
      Marketing Director
      Fence Sales Assistant

  11. Dani Ella said:
    March 22, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    Wow! I had fun reading this article. I did not know there is etiquette to follow when building fences. Please post more about commercial fencing services. I am learning a lot from you. I would definitely give you a call if I ever need your wonderful expertise. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Lily Bridgers said:
    August 29, 2023 at 4:04 am

    After witnessing our neighbor’s construction project cause some damage to our yard, my dad became concerned about the safety of our property. He realized it was time to explore fence rental options to protect our home during their ongoing work and prevent any further issues. I will tell him that it’s a good idea to consider how the rest of your neighborhood could appear when designing your fence.

  13. Elle Jones said:
    September 29, 2023 at 5:29 pm

    It’s good to know that you should consult your neighbors before building a fence because it will both border their and my property lines. My husband and I want to build a fence to help keep our dog in the yard when we let him out. We are quite certain that our neighbor won’t object as long as it looks nice and professional, but your suggestion to offer to paint their side is something to think about. It’s excellent to know that we ought to face them from the front of the fence as well, and I do concur that this would be kinder than confronting them from the raw side.

    • Delta Fenceman said:
      October 19, 2023 at 11:33 am

      Hi Elle,

      Thanks for the comment!:) It’s a great idea to a) protect pets and property with a secure fence and b) improve the value and quality of your property with an aesthetically pleasing quality Delta Fence Fence. Neighbor input is always appreciated. If you have any questions or would like to talk with a fencing professional, please reach out to one of our experienced team members at 906.786.1076 or visit our resource site for videos, photos, design ideas, templates, ordinances and more. We’d love to hear back and work with you!

      Thanks ~ Delta Fence Staff

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