Whether you’re trying to achieve some level of privacy, a boundary or create a fortress-type effect fences are usually the means we use. The garden is presumably our sanctuary and often the urban sprawl and higher-density living forces us to consider a much larger fence height than if we all had ample space between us.

While most people recognise that our local authorities (councils, shires, counties etc) have sub-rules that govern where we can put a fence very few consider whether there is a legal fence height requirement. Alas, this is not an area they haven’t pondered and formed into policy.

Most governing authorities rule that a fence’s height cannot exceed 2m (6.5ft) without a permit. While this is usually an ample height for privacy and boundary reasons it may fail if the neighbours house is greater than a single-storey dwelling. You can just imagine the aggravation if their balcony extends their view straight into your backyard!

In situations like this there are ways around the fence height debacle while still keeping it all legal. The law will only ever stipulate regarding fences erected from material sources that create an inaccessible boundary – eg bricks, chain link, rock or wooden pailings. However, it doesn’t (usually) provide any guidance regarding natural borders – eg trees, hedges, climbers etc.

Ideas to Keep a Legal Fence Height

So here are some options to help you increase your fence height without falling foul of the law;

  • Grow Columnar Trees – Think poplars, conifers, birches and even some eucalypts that can be grown very close together to create a vision problem for your next door neighbours. Many of these can grow to 5m high (or greater) within a few years and offer some great wind deadening advantages as well.
  • Grow a Hedge – While a hedge fence works much the same as growing columnar trees the main benefit is that you have the option of clipping it to a preferred height. One of the disadvantages of increasing your fence height may be that you inadvertently block out some sunlight while trying to keep your neighbours prying eyes at bay. Therefore a clipped hedge might be a better option. Some of the conifers such as Virginia Juniper or Leyland Cypress can grow up to 20-30ft but can easily be hedged at heights much shorter than this but still high enough to obscure the view.
  • Grow a Climber – installing a trellis on your side of the fence that exceeds the fence height is another option available to you. Trellises are usually viewed as temporary fixtures so won’t fall foul of the law if it exceeds the fence height. Once installed you could grow any number of creepers/ climbers that will offer some privacy for your garden.
  • Install a garden structure – if you have room on your property one option may be to obscure the neighbours view by erecting a garden structure in your yard that hides your garden – from their view anyway! Structures such as; a garden shed, pergola, arbour or even a gazebo can increase your privacy.
  • Apply for a permit - another option available to you is to apply for an increase to your fence height. While local authorities have their fence stipulations there are usually avenues that you can pursue to increase the height of your fence.

Here are some more garden fencing ideas if you require them and ways to build them cheaply.