Good fences are more than metaphors. Well-built fences can do several jobs: define your property; mark lot lines; confine your pets and keep other critters out; provide privacy and security; add visual appeal to the landscaping plan; and, yes, keep your neighbors at bay.

If you aren’t sure what type of fencing you want and how you want it constructed, begin by reviewing and deciding on fence type, materials, finish, height, spacing and width of slats, and post size. Also decide on extras such as latticework or an electronic gate. Most fence builders provide catalogs you can examine.

Make sure the company you choose is aware of any community building code restrictions on your property. Every community has its own rules. For example, some require posts to be sunk below a certain level, or that fencing be located within a set distance of your property lines and set back a certain distance from streets or sidewalks. Also, some communities allow only certain types of fencing, and limit the height of fences and walls.

Our Ratings Tables show the results of our surveys of area consumers who recently hired companies for fencing projects. Some companies got high accolades, but a few were rated “inferior” for “overall performance” by large percentages of their survey customers.

The key to getting a good price is to get several bids. Our mystery shoppers found very large company-to-company differences when obtaining price quotes for the same jobs.