We'll just come out and say it: Privacy fencing can come off as a little rude. Oh sure, there are occasions for it — to block out traffic or corral an Olympic jumper of a dog.
But for most yards in most neighborhoods, we're all about a more neighborly boundary. We call it the anti-privacy fence. It comes in many forms — like glass, cable, and aluminum — that you can see through, but each one does the job of a legit fence without turning your home into a compound.
Here's why we love it.
#1 It Lets the Breezes Blow
A solid privacy fence not only blocks neighbors' wandering eyes, but also air flow. That's something to consider, especially if your house or garage creates a barrier on other sides. A refreshing breeze helps dry damp areas — discouraging mold and plant-killing fungus growth — and keeps seating areas from feeling hot as Hades in the summer.
#2 It Feels Better
Without borders blocking out the world, you can see what's going on in your neighborhood and feel more connected to your setting, Whyte says. Your backyard will feel more "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and less "Shawshank Redemption."
#3 It Acts Like an Open Door
Anti-privacy fencing is the landscaping equivalent of sitting on your front porch in the evening. It "establishes a non-verbal communication that 'We can share,'" fostering a sense of community, says Brian Whyte, a design/build landscape contractor.
#4 It Makes Your Property Feel Way More Expansive
"I call it borrowed landscape," Whyte says. You don't have to own it to appreciate it. Open fence styles, like those made of clear acrylic sheeting, provide an unencumbered view of hills, trees, or even just adjoining neighbors' grassy yards, so you can bathe in that wide-open feeling even if you have a postage-stamp-size lot.
#5 It Can Double as a Vertical Garden
Nearly invisible styles like deer fencing, or simply wires with a trellis system, practically beg for climbing plants to weave through, beautifying your yard and boosting your curb appeal.
#6 It Adds Artistic Interest
Fencing that could pass for artwork? Yes, please! Corten steel, used to make shipping containers, is the new "it" material for fencing. When blades of it are installed about 8 inches apart, "you can get a vertical fence that you can see right through," Whyte says. And like window blinds, they provide a different view depending on your angle.
#7 It Might Deter Crime
Like outdoor security lighting, open or low fencing helps us see what's going on out there. So while it may sound counterintuitive, low fencing eliminates hiding spots for intruders and allows your neighbors to provide an additional set of watchful eyes.
#8 It Can Complement Your Architecture
Fencing that accentuates your home's style — like sleek steel and cable for a contemporary home or ornate iron for a Victorian — creates a coordinated look abound to boost your curb appeal.
Privacy fencing tends to come in fewer options, style-wise, and who could tell what your house looks like behind that behemoth anyway?
#9 It Can Be Low Maintenance
Unlike wood privacy fencing that needs to be washed and sealed every few years, styles like ornamental aluminum are maintenance-free.
#10 It Lets the Sun Shine In
Depending on the time of year, tall privacy fencing can keep a substantial amount of sunlight from reaching your yard, says Gita Nandan, an architect who is involved in community landscaping projects. Fence styles with smaller boards, spaced farther apart, allow a lot more light in — which is essential if you're trying to grow a garden, Whyte says.
#11 It Encourages Creativity
Once you start considering anti-privacy fencing, a world of possibility opens up. You can construct a fence with wood slats at the bottom, leaving the top open for tall grasses to poke through a cable rail. Or play with the direction of corrugated metal sheets for an artsy feel.
The options are as boundless as the horizon. Which you'll be able to see without a ginormous fence to block your view.