To fence your rural property or not to fence it? This is the question
I know that many first time land owners panic when they first buy a rural property about putting a fence on it straight away. This is a huge job and a huge expense if you have just bought 80 acre parcel.
Do You Need To Fence Your Rural Property?
Many people coming from the city are used to everything being fenced, locked, gated and secure. But different rules apply in rural areas. It may be that you have a parcel in the middle of nowhere, with no property or animals on it- what are you trying to keep in or out? There would be no reason at all to erect a fence.
Why not keep the scenery pristine and natural? If there are any wild animals, allow them the free flow of movement and food sources as nature intended. As you gaze out at your property, you will not be encumbered by the sight of manmade structures.
If you are close to a neighbour or wish to fence your rural property close to a boundary, always, always, always get a professional surveyor to accurately define the boundary line.
You know approximately where your boundary is from the GPS coordinates you got from the county or from the previous property owner you bought the land from. Check it out on your smart phone or use a handheld GPS.
Maybe you plan you take your RV or a tent one weekend a month and camp overnight. Or maybe you come to fly your drones here, or ride your dirt bikes. Fencing your rural property here just does not make sense.
Most scenarios where you are not erecting a permanent structure, or dealing with livestock will not require you to fence your rural property.
When Should I Fence My Rural Property?
Scenarios where you may should fence your rural property include:
• Livestock that you need to keep in a certain area
• Problems with trespassers
• Building your rural retreat (you may not require a fence but you should definitely know where the official boundary is)
Fencing your rural property is no small task. There are many options available of course, and the costs vary wildly. See below for more information on costs.
Before going ahead with any fencing work, check the rules and regulations in your county or any property associations you are part of.
It would be heart breaking to finish two months work erecting your fence all around your 40 acre parcel (not to mention the cost) only to find out that you did not meet some requirement and have to take the whole thing down!
There may be rules over what it looks like, what material can be used, the height of the fence or other factors.
If I Decide To Fence My Rural Property, What Options Are Available?
With all of the above in mind, let’s review some of the most common fencing strategies.
Types of Fencing To Consider:
Corral Panels: Quick and efficient to erect. There is no wire to stretch and you may not even require postholes. It gets expensive though. It is easily $100 or more for a 12 foot panel. Not useful for a wide perimeter border. This is more for a small riding area or a smaller area for livestock
Rail Fencing: Better for fencing larger areas like pastures or boundaries. There are many types of railing available.
Steel rails: strong, but can get expensive.
Wooden rails: aesthetically pleasing and traditional for sure but most people who put this up end up regretting it due to continuous upkeep. Painting and treating the wood on a regular basis quickly becomes a bore. It is also pricy and takes a lot of work to erect.
Vinyl/PVC rails: a cheaper option for smaller animals or boundaries. Not much use for horses as their strength can destroy them easily. They often just rest in place rather than be secured on. There is still a bit of maintenance but much less than wooden rails.
All wiring is a labor intensive option, as each strand of wire needs to be unrolled and stretched individually. Heavy brace posts are critical at each corner and intermittently along longer fence lines. Expect strands to loosen and require re-tightening from time to time.
Cable: offers strength and flexibility. Livestock making contact with a cable fence won’t encounter solid rails; instead, cable will offer some give. Cable can be paired with steel posts to create a high-end version of a wire fence, but with greater durability and better eye appeal than ordinary wire options.
Coated Wire: a good alternative to cable fencing, coated wire is constructed from electric fence wire that’s been wrapped in a polymer coating.
Smooth Wire: a budget-conscious choice which is more common for large acreages. Smooth wire is, essentially, barbed wire without the barbs.
Barbed Wire: a low-cost, labor-intensive option is best suited for cattle. You’ll often see horses pastured inside a barbed-wire fence, but that combination, sooner or later, will lead to serious injuries. If you do this yourself, wear durable gloves or you will get plenty of cuts
Woven Wire: is designed with a tight mesh so that a horse’s hooves are less likely to get caught in the fence. It is used for horse fencing and game fencing and is a relatively affordable option. This woven wire unrolls so it can then be attached to fence posts.
Stretching woven wire evenly is an art form, as it’s easy to pull the wire out of shape. It can make an attractive fence, with security on par with that of higher-cost strategies.
Electric fence: often used as a temporary measure to keep livestock in the right area. It is not a strong fence solution. But it is cheap, easy to erect. As it is not strong, it is easily falls down in high winds.
Gates and signage: If it is a property boundary, you may need to announce to any passers by that this is private property and do not enter. It is irritating to arrive at your property to find campers have spent a couple of nights on your land and left their rubbish behind.
If you have animals you may need to provide clear instructions to keep the gates closed at all times so they do not escape. Or provide a warning to passers by that you have potentially dangerous animals on site- like a bull, dogs, crocodiles?
What Will It Cost To Fence Your Rural Property?
There are many factors that go into estimating costs to fence your rural property:
- The materials you choose to use for your fence
- How robust and strong you need it to be
- How many fence posts and railings you require
- How large an area you wish to fence
- Whether you can do some or all of it yourself or need to hire professionals
As we have seen above fencing can be wood, steel PVC, vinyl, wire, coated wire. Fencing can range from $7 per linear foot to $16/lf. On average fencing professionals will charge anywhere from $350 to $750 for the labor required for each 100 linear feet of fencing.
You can also find many videos on how to do it yourself. Here is a good one on how to erect a barbed wire fence:
Fence Your Rural Property With Stakes
As mentioned before, you may not even require a fence. Maybe you are simply curious on exactly where your property limits are. Marking out the property lines is commonly referred to as “staking property lines.”
You can do an approximate job by yourself with GPS. Or hire a professional land surveyor who will place survey markers at property corners with additional markers along the property lines (set at predefined intervals). This process creates a visible line that defines the limits of your property. Typically, a surveyor will use concrete monuments or iron pins/rebar to mark the property lines.
When Do I Need To Stake My Property Lines
In most cases you will not need to do this at all.
But it is useful and necessary if:
- you are settling disputes with neighbouring lot owners
- planning to install fences and other structures
- preventing any unwanted intrusions or encroachments from neighbouring lots
- seeking to comply with building permit requirements and easements
- placing a well or septic system close to a property border
- measuring the exact total land area of the property. Sometimes a 40 acres parcel is actually 39.55 or 40.78. For most people it does not matter too much one way of the other. However there may be instances where you need to know the square footage exactly. For example a lender may require it.
Getting a survey can be expensive. If you need it, it is always worth it. Check out the National Society of Professional Surveyors as a good start for recommendations. Depending on what is required and how large your land is. As always, get a few quotes. As a ball park it may be approximately $2K-$6K depending on size of the land..
Most people with large rural parcels will not need this level of accuracy.
Who knew that there was so much involved and so many decisions to be made when you first had the idea to fence your rural property.
Hopefully this has given you a few insights and a few ideas to chew on before you begin. Get it right first, and your project will run smoothly. If it is a small project, check out the options on doing it yourself. If it is a big project, seek professional advice.