How Tall Can A Fence Be?

I wanted the tallest fence I could build at first as it provides maximum privacy and safety for my family. As my wife asked me if that was even allowed I started to wonder myself, what was the tallest fence that I could have legally? This is what I found out.

As a safe ballpark figure, in most residential areas, six feet is the maximum height permitted for the backyard and four feet for the front when it comes to fencing. You have to check with your local building ordinances to verify for your location.

We have thus been able to establish the general regulations which are stipulated with regards to fence height, but there is more to it and there are certain things that one needs to be aware of prior to the construction of your perimeter fencing. So let us take a look at what some of these points and considerations are.

There most certainly will be legal heights permitted for fencing and these, although most places are similar, will potentially differ according to the area in which you live: six feet is seen to be the most likely height allowed for your backyard, while your front is only permitted to be four.

Most local fencing laws also have particulars, not only regarding the height but also the materials which may be used, the general maintenance, and whether a fence is regarded as dangerous or not. Often the biggest differences in fencing laws are between rural and suburban areas. It is relatively common to be able to add barbed wire to your fence without a permit in rural areas, however this is highly frowned upon in most areas close to cities and towns.

You will also be surprised to learn that in certain fencing laws, natural fences formed from large bushes and trees can also constitute the definition of being a fence. They are also bound to height limits, usually between five and eight feet.

A fence may, however, violate the local fencing laws and still be allowed under two typical scenarios:

  • The fence had been built before the passing of the law: if the existing fence violates newer restrictions, in most cases it may remain as such(grandfathered in). It is good not to assume that if you wish to rebuild the fence, the exception will still be permitted for that particular property.
  • The homeowner has applied for a variance, which is a one-time exemption to the law, which is given at the discretion of a local zoning board of the area in question. In order to apply for this however, there is usually a fee involved and a formal hearing may follow where the homeowner will need to present the reasons for the proposed request. One thing to keep in mind though is that it is customary for the zoning board to inform surrounding homeowners of the intended deviation and they may be in a position to object.  
  • In certain instances a variance application is not needed instead all you need is a fence permit. A fence permit is something available in certain states, whereby a resident simply has to complete an application, pay a fee of approximately $100 and is then issued the permit which allows them to exceed the stipulated height for fencing.

Are Privacy And Garden Fence The Same Thing?

Technically speaking they could be the same thing, but there are connotative differences. Any type of fencing could likely constitute garden fencing, while privacy fences offer you just that, privacy. They will have solid infill to ensure that nobody can gawk at you through the fence. This is particularly great if you like to spend a lot of leisure time out in your backyard and do not wish to have your neighbors spying on you.

In many areas the backyard or lawn is called a garden instead, so a garden fence in many cases is a fence for your backyard depending on the locality you are from.

Another potentially definitive difference between them is that a garden fence is typically on your property, whereas privacy fencing will likely be along the shared boundary of two adjacent plots. If you are in search of a good privacy fence, read here about the best materials and designs.

Garden fences can be made from an array of materials from wood to bamboo and wrought iron, but privacy fences are typically made from vinyl or wood. The type of fencing you choose will come down to personal choice, budget, and the purpose of the fence. If you do not mind your neighbors looking into your yard, then even something as simple as a chain-link fence would do, but if you are looking for privacy then that would be your last choice.

Regardless of your chosen style of fencing, you should be courteous to your neighbors and let them know of your intentions to put up the fence. There may also be specific permits that you will require in order to build your fence. So, before you contact the contractor or begin your DIY project, ensure there will be no legal ramifications later on.   

How Tall Can A Fence Be?

Although six feet for the backyard and four for the front are, generally speaking, the maximum heights, you can contact your local municipality to enquire about what the particular limits are within your county and city and they can tell you if your fence needs a permit.

The reason for the four foot in the front yard tending to be the norm, especially on the corner of residential streets, is that higher fencing causes a blind spot for motorists, and can cause a danger to those in vehicles as well as potential pedestrians and even animals which may be in or be entering the street. However, you might get away with having a higher fence if you build it out of certain materials such as chain link or aluminum as these will allow for motorists’ visibility.

Can You Put Trellis On Top Of A 6ft Fence?

You may well be able to, but you will first need to consult with the local municipality or homeowners’ association to ensure that you have their permission (usually obtained in the form of a permit) to do so.

Once you have the go-ahead of the respective parties, remember to construct support beams in order to keep the additional trellising sturdy and in place.


If you want to build a fairly high fence, you need to make sure that you meet the required conditions set out by your local municipality or similar organization. You should contact them to find out what you will need in terms of permits or variances.

Another place to start if you are unsure is to contact a local contractor and ask this company what the rules and regulations are and they, being au fait with the requirements, will be able to give the advice you are seeking.

If you have already started on your fencing, though, just keep in mind that the general directive is that your front yard fence should not exceed four feet and the back six. However, there are exceptions to these rules, and you may be in luck.

Manny Moore

Getting my hands dirty and building a place that me and my small family love is a driving factor for what I do and how I do it. I want to share what I have learned and practiced so that it is just that much easier for everyone to have another tool in their tool belt. Your home should be a place that you love and feel comfortable in and your backyard should be no different.

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