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We are replacing the fence between our front yard and the street. I am leaning toward having a stainless cable fence, but I don't really see them in the neighborhood. Almost every search I do leads to cable deck rails but not yard fences.

Is there a reason that this style of fence is not suitable for a yard perimeter? Maybe post spacing?

  • That depends entirely on the purpose of the fence (and seems like a subjective question here). – isherwood May 3 '17 at 17:56
  • One of the primary purposes of a fence is privacy; cable fences do not offer that – mmathis May 3 '17 at 17:58
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    There also may be building department regulations that govern fence materials. Check with your locality to make sure. – bib May 3 '17 at 18:17
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Is there a reason that this style of fence is not suitable for a yard perimeter?

I can think of a few reasons why people might think they're unsuitable for their front yard. But I don't see why you couldn't do a cable fence if that is what you like.

Pets

Often, the reason for fencing a front yard is to create a barrier so small dogs and toddlers can run freely without ending up in the middle of nearby roads. Chain link and picket fences do a fine job of this for a reasonable price, they are readily available in a wide variety of styles at mainstream hardware stores, so they are an easy go-to option. Cable fences on the other hand would be easy for an unsupervized dog or child to squeeze underneath or through.

Aesthetics / status symbol

The fence selected is often a small part of the owner's overall landscape "vision", or at least they have put some thought into what it looks like and how that look complements the rest of the yard/house. As mmathis said - you don't really see the cables from a distance, only the posts, which might seem odd.

It's not trending in suburbia / looks too commercial

Most of the times you encounter cable fences will be on tall buildings, cliffs, harbor walls, shopping mall balconies, etc., where the primary purpose is to prevent people from accidentally falling off an edge while at the same time not spoiling the view. It may simply be that people have decided that's all they are really meant for and just never considered using one for a private installation.

Complexity

After sinking the posts, the other fence options don't require any specialized knowledge or skill (E.g. tensioning cables appropriately), you just attach everything with bolts. The other options are just easier.

Cost

There are cheaper alternatives.

  • Good stuff. I think my wife would agree with you about the commercial look, whereas I think they look somewhat modern and clean. Thanks. – beroe May 3 '17 at 22:44
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While some of the reasons are likely subjective, there do seem to be some technical reasons. Looking at the RailEasy Cable Railing as an example (it was simply the first result on google), it specifies a height of 36 or 42" and post spacing of 4', both of which are smaller / shorter than is typical in a yard perimeter fence install. Fence height tends to be 6' (72"), and post spacing is roughly 6' as well, at least in my area.

The linked cable railing does indicate longer spans are possible, though it requires extra hardware to keep the cables tensioned properly. You would either need (a lot) more posts or the extra hardware, both of which increase the price and labor involved.

Taller posts are presumably possible as well, and the 3" spacing of the cables could probably be relaxed for a fence install, though the forces on the wood might become a problem. Larger spacing could also present a risk for animals or children to get their head caught.

All that said, there is a practical reason that may be why you don't see these more. Many fences are designed to provide some element of privacy. Not all fences, of course, as there are chain link, wrought iron, white picket, etc which provide little, if any, privacy. Compared to your standard 6' cedar picket fence, though, these cable fences offer no privacy because they are essentially invisible. The near-invisibility is a big selling point when installed as deck railings, as it doesn't obscure your view off the deck, but may not be so great for a fence.

Edit: Just re-read your Question and realized you were talking about replacing a front-yard fence, so the above may not be entirely applicable. Front-yard fences tend to be shorter, so a 36" fence may be more appropriate, and you may not be looking for full privacy. Some of the other issues still pertain, and in this case, it may be down to aesthetics - from afar, a cable fence would look like a bunch of wooden posts stuck in the ground, which is probably a bit weird for your neighbors. The cables would only become visible as you drew closer.

  • Thanks! This is helpful. We have a toddler, so would want something safe to keep him in and others out, but we are also re-landscaping, so don't necessarily want to block the view of our yard. The point about looking like blank fence posts from afar is a good one! – beroe May 3 '17 at 22:43

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