This is a very common question. Many (but not all!) fences have two distinct sides: a finished side and a side where the structural components are more apparent. The finished side should face out, and the structural side should face into your yard.

princeton gate

This picture was taken from the inside of a yard. It’s the unfinished side: you can see the two by fours and the bracing of the gate, and the gate swings into the yard. The picture at the top of this article is a view from outside the yard showing the finished side of the fence.

The By-law

It’s not just a matter of taste, it’s the rules. Ottawa By-law No. 2003-462 covers the situation. You can read more about it here. There is a lot of valuable information in there and it’s well worth a look for anyone considering a new fence. We’ve taken out the legalese and compiled a summary of the main points below for your convenience:

Fences must be designed to present the finished side toward the street and neighbouring properties.

No person shall construct a fence that is not of good quality.

Property owners are responsible to maintain their fence in good repair.

The by-law does not regulate where your fence should be installed relative to property lines other than “not on City property”.

The by-law does not regulate how costs of a fence should be shared among neighbours.

The by-law does not set height restrictions on hedges, bushes or trees that serve as natural screenings.

No person shall construct a chainlink fence that is not either vinyl or powder coated.

No person shall construct a fence using barbed wire, chicken wire, electric wire or any other potentially harmful materials.

Barbed wire is permitted on non-residential properties at a minimum of 8′ (250cm) above ground level.

Nothing in this by-law shall prevent the continued use and maintenance of a fence if such fence was lawfully erected in conformity with the provisions of a fence by-law of an old municipality prior to January 1, 2004.

More questions?

If you have more questions about fences, by-laws, or related issues we’re happy to answer them. Call 613-736-1122 or hit the chat button on the right during business hours.