For some, fences represent the American dream. To others, a fence is a great way to outline your property or to add some curb appeal. But it’s undeniable that a fence around your yard is a safety feature if you have small children, pets or animals. With the right fence, you can keep your kids safe in the yard without worrying about them wandering off into the street or into your neighbor’s space.
Unlike a fence that’s primarily used for how it looks or to signify a property line, the best yard fence for kids serves two primary functions. On the one hand, it keeps your kids from trespassing beyond the safe area of your yard. On the other, it prevents the outside world from intruding in on the safety and sanctity of your yard. And when it comes to the fence that you use to protect your children, everything matters — from the material used to the design and even its dimensions.
Consideration One: Fence Materials
While a nice, solid wooden fence is likely what most people have in mind when they picture a typical home, the best yard fence for kids is actually not a wood fence at all. Wood can splinter, chip and break, and, if it spends any significant amount of time water-logged, it rots. Wooden fences are also made with nails and other objects that can come undone as the wood around them deteriorates, creating safety hazards for curious kids that won’t know to leave the dangerous stuff alone.
A metal fence can be a great alternative to wood, as it won’t degrade over time, and different metals can give a dramatically different feel. Aluminum fences are smooth, strong and won’t rust, and they can be painted a dark black to give an inconspicuous look, making them one of the best yard fences for kids. Wrought iron is a heavier, more complicated fence, but it’s traditional and stately look is unmistakable. However, iron and other similar metals require preventative measures to keep them from rusting, making them an improper choice for kids.
Vinyl fences are another popular option, and they’re both stronger and more flexible than wood. But they cost significantly more, even though they’re build to last and are basically maintenance free like aluminum. Many styles have a sort of faux-wood grain or texture on the surface, which can leave them feeling cheap, but it’s one of the few ways to get a wood style without the problems of real wood. Composite fences are also available that mix wood fibers with plastic, giving the look of wood and the strength and durability of plastic, though quality varies wildly from “Wow, that looks real!” to “eh,” so be sure to inspect samples if you’re considering a composite fence.
Consideration Two: The Railing
When it comes to kids, it’s best to go with a fence that doesn’t have any spikes, protrusions or anything that can snag clothes or parts of the body like hands, arms, legs and feet. While the spikes or decorative tips of more traditional fences may sound like a great idea to discourage trespassers or by making it more difficult to jump the fence, kids are kids, and they’ll be all over that fence the day it’s installed. To help avoid unnecessary injuries, we say skip the decorative barbs and go with a flat rail for the best yard fence for kids.
Consideration Three: The Gate
With any fence, you’ll inevitably have some sort of access gate in front, off to the side or at the rear of your property. Because they’re often hidden from view, a gate isn’t something that’s typically front of mind when it comes to the best yard fence for kids, but it’s an important consideration nonetheless. Obviously, the worst type of gate here is an opening in the fence itself, which provides no barrier between your yard and the outside world. If your yard sits up against a busy street or is adjacent to a dark, wooded area, this could be a problem.
Ideally, the best yard fence for kids has a gate with a strong auto-latching and auto-closing mechanism that keeps the gate closed and locked at all times. With a higher-than-you’d-think latching mechanism, preferably at the top of a five-foot or taller gate, you’ll prevent small children from being able to operate the gate, which keeps them safe and in the yard.
Consideration Four: Fence Style
Another priority when it comes to the best yard fence for kids is to have a fence that’s hard to climb. Kids will be kids, and you know that when the fence comes in they’ll be scheming ways to climb it. A smooth, flat fence is the best way to prevent the Spiderman shenanigans you can bet will take place the second the fence goes up. Without anything to grab hold of or step onto, children will quickly give up when they realize this fence isn’t climbable.
While there are many fence styles on the market, you’ll want to look for styles that are simple and don’t have much ornamentation. Something like a privacy fence that has no visible views into or out of the yard is one of the best yard fences for kids due to the fact that it’s basically a glorified outdoor wall. Privacy fences often come in 6-foot-high panels, and they’re great when you want to maximize security and keep the outside world at bay.
Lattice fences are a nice alternative to the vastness of a privacy fence, and they provide a partial, head-height view with a decorative checkered pattern at the top of each panel. Think of a privacy fence with limited views up top and you’ve got the right idea.
A spaced picket fence is arguably the quintessential American fence, but beyond its timeless looks it won’t do much to protect the safety of your children as they tend to run short and people can step over them with relative ease, and they also won’t do much to keep children above the age of five or six from climbing them.
A dog-eared fence is another option, which uses alternating front and back slats to give a half-open, half-closed feel that is opaque from far away yet more open close up or at an angle.
Squared, metal fences round out the style options, and these give a modern, decorative appeal in a very strong and rigid frame. But because each bar is placed a few inches apart and you can see through them, they may not provide the right level of privacy when considering the safety of small children. They are, however, incredibly strong, so if durability is the main concern, it’s a good option, and you can always stack some trees or shrubbery right in front of the fence to increase privacy.
Consideration Four: Fence Height
In general, you’ll want a fence that’s at least five or six feet tall. At that level, no small child would even think about trying to scale such a wall, and the increased height also gives you some additional privacy from nosey neighbors and makes it difficult for even adults to scale. Square aluminum fences, privacy fences, lattice fences and dog-eared fences meet this requirement, but picket fences and other decorative, smaller fences are just not tall enough to keep the little ones safely inside and the outside world at bay.
Consideration Five: What About the Pool?
If you have a pool, you might just have the most dangerous thing your kids could be exposed to right in your own backyard. Drowning is a leading cause of young children dying at home, and often it comes down to unsupervised time at the pool or unauthorized access such as when a child gains access to a pool without an adult knowing. In fact, many states have now passed pool fencing laws that dictate the type of fencing required around any pool, as well as how access to the pool should work.
As a homeowner and parent, it’s your responsibility to prevent your kids or any other kids in the area from having unauthorized access to your pool. According to international regulations, you’ll need a proper fence with slats that are no more four inches apart and the fence is no more than four inches from the ground (two in some municipalities and states). The fence itself must be 48 inches high or taller, and it can’t have any protrusions or indentations that would make it easy to climb. The gate must also open out and have an auto-locking, auto-closing mechanism that sits at the top of the fence, out of reach from the hands of small children.
Consideration Six: Don’t Forget Your Kids
While a fence is a great way to increase the privacy and security of your kids when they’re out playing in the yard, it’s not an excuse to abdicate your duties as a parent. When they’re outside, an adult or supervisor should be with them at all times. When they’re playing, it’s not the time to head into the home office to get some work done or to go start the family dinner if you can’t keep an eye on them from inside. That small window view probably won’t cut it, and what happens when they wander off or a call comes in and they lose your attention completely?
Sure, the best yard fence for kids can help keep them safer than without, but it’s not a substitute for real parenting. Even with a safe fence made from aluminum that won’t chip, crack, rust, splinter or rot, you’ve still got to keep an eye on your kids whenever they’re outside. If you have a pool, spa or any water in your yard, you should be extra vigilant, as a split-second of inattention can be disastrous.
From Your Friends at Aluminum Fences Direct
Here at Aluminum Fences Direct, we make beautiful aluminum fences that stand the test of time and look great doing it. Sturdy, secure and affordable, our fences can help make any yard a secure, safe place for your kids, your pets and your entire home. Reclaim your yard by replacing your old, unsafe fence with a beautiful, new aluminum fence from Aluminum Fences Direct and see how a new fence can transform the time you and your family share outdoors. Contact us today to get a quote.