Our New Fence: The Installation & After Pics

A few weeks ago, I laid out the plan for our back fence in this post, which explained why we wanted to replace the old chain link fence with a 6-foot privacy fence and how we ended up deciding to call in the pros rather than try to DIY it. Shortly after came a teaser in the form of an Instagram photo showing the fence in progress, which you may have seen on Instagram here or randomly thrown in at the end of the post about our window box flowers here.

So for today’s post, I’m finally back with the pictures and details about our shiny new privacy fence! Skipping straight to the good stuff, here’s a view of the backyard as it looks now:

New Privacy Fence

(Plus a bonus bouncy ball! See it in action in this post.)

It’s hard to put into words what a nice difference it makes not to be able to see out into the alley from the backyard. Just for fun, I thought I’d include a “before” picture of the old fence into this post — for some reason I missed including a photo of the fence from a similar angle in the “state of the backyard” post I wrote in April, so here’s a view of what it looked like when we moved in:

Chain Link Fence (Before Picture)

(It’s crazy how much overgrowth we used to have along that back fence! Getting rid of those weed trees helped a lot, but I guess we’ve been making pretty good progress on the rest of the weedy stuff too. Anyway…)

The installation happened on a Saturday (on Memorial Day weekend, actually). The fence guy arrived at around 9:00 and got right to work — and in no time, the old fence was gone and the skeleton of the new fence was in its place. The work went on until a little after 5:00, and for us it was pretty much a normal day hanging around the house, except for walking back there and/or looking out the windows to take a peek at the progress every so often:

Fence In Progress

(Grendel seemed interested in the strange activity going on outside, too.)

Each of the new fence posts are sunk three feet deep and set in concrete, and it was built completely custom with no pre-assembled pieces — the fence guy arrived in a pickup truck stuffed with planks of lumber. So between the supplies for mixing cement and the power tools for cutting the wood, our backyard definitely looked like a construction zone for the duration of the work:

Wheelbarrow In City Backyard

(Don’t worry, though — it all got cleaned up by the end of the day.)

I keep saying “fence guy,” singular, because the bulk of the work was done by just one person — I thought I might’ve seen an assistant out there briefly during the part where they were dismantling the old fence, but if so, they didn’t stay for long. I was actually a little surprised about this part.

Not that it really mattered, though, because that one guy sure could build a fence. Here’s a view of the new fence as seen from the alley once it was all done, complete with all those funky angles we wanted (as explained in the plan here):

Privacy Fence Facing Alley

For fun, here’s another before shot (this time taken only a few weeks earlier and originally posted here) showing the old chain link fence from the same angle:

Backyard Alley Fence

As the contrast between the above photos shows, the privacy from this thing is such an improvement over that fishbowl we had before!

As for the actual details of the fence itself, the “traditional batten” style we chose may not be very apparent from a distance, so here’s a closer view to show how the boards are staggered to produce a little more texture and interest than just a flat wall of wood:

Batten Privacy Fence Closeup

And the back gate got a big upgrade as well — the new latch actually locks now, with a key and everything, from both the inside and the outside:

Locking Privacy Fence Latch

Oh, and I’m not sure I even mentioned this part in the planning post, but we also had them replace the gate leading out toward the front as a part of this upgrade:

Back Of House With New Gate

I know it looks a little strange to have the wooden gate just floating there while the rest of the fence is still chain link. In an ideal world we would have upgraded the fences on the sides of the yard as well, with something similar to this — a 4-foot privacy fence in the same batten style as the back one, which would be low enough to feel not completely cut off from our next-door neighbors while still being tall and solid enough to add a bit more privacy and boundary between the backyards. But alas, the cost of that much fence would be prohibitively expensive for us right now.

In any case, even just the gate is a lot more functional for us compared to the old one. In addition to reducing that fishbowl effect from the front a little, the latch is higher up and not as easy for toddler-hands to manipulate — at least so far, knock on wood* — and it also has the possibility of easily locking if we ever want to throw one on there:

New Front Gate Latch

* mmm, punny

So anyway, that’s the scoop on our new fence! We’re pretty happy with the way it turned out. And interestingly enough one of our neighbors came by as the work was being finished to compliment the fence and ask the fence guy for his contact info, so that’s probably a good sign.

In case anyone is in the Chicago area and wondering who we used, we went through a company called Fenceworks, which has an office located up in the north suburbs. Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with Fenceworks, and even though we had a good experience and were quoted a good price I would encourage everyone to shop around and get estimates from a number of companies, etc. Disclaimer 2: If you do click through to their website, be warned that it’s a bit hard on the eyes color-wise (orange text on a green background, eek!) though they have a pretty good selection of fence photos on there. Lots of possibilities if you’re trying to decide on a style of fence for your own yard!

Oh, and as a final note, sealing/staining/painting the fence wasn’t included with any of this, so right now the wood (cedar) is completely bare. We know that if we leave it as is, it’ll eventually weather to a soft grey — which may not necessarily be such a bad thing visually, though we’ll probably want to do some research on how we should treat it or seal it to protect it from the elements as much as possible. This has been a fairly significant investment for the backyard, so we definitely want it to last!

What do you think of the new fence? For anyone with any experience with a wooden privacy fence (or deck or other outdoor structure), what (if anything) did you do to seal/protect it, and how has it held up over time? Any other advice on what to do as far as sealing it goes? Any comments would be appreciated!


  1. Really nice! You will enjoy your back yard so much more! Don’t know if this will help, not a fence, but we have redwood planks on part of the exterior walls. We left them unfinished, but after several years they began to look bad. They were a nice gray at first, but had started to look ‘old.’ So I had a painter put on a coat of Sherwin-Williams stain that had a bit of color to it. The most important thing, though, was that he washed the redwood with a bleach solution before staining. That alone made it look much better. He said I would need to reapply in about 3 years, but it’s been 7 years now. I probably need to do it again! I think the stain color helps tone down the raw wood look, while still showing the grain. If I had it to do over, I’d go ahead with the stain/sealer from the get-go. Yours is ging to look so coordinated with the wood planter boxes!

    • Thanks! I think you’re right about how we’ll enjoy being in the backyard more now, thanks to the added privacy and no longer having the eyesore of the alley and garbage cans right there. Really interesting about those wood planks on the exterior of your house and how they’ve held up over time, and especially the tip about washing it down with the bleach solution — it’s sounding like staining/sealing our fence from the start might be the way to go. And I was pleased that the wood color is similar on the window boxes and the fence! Maybe we can apply any stain/sealer we use on the fence to the window boxes as well, just to keep things coordinated. :)

    • Thanks, Sharon! I think we cheated a little on the motivation front by hiring this one out, and there’s so much left to do around the yard before summer’s over that I’m starting to worry we won’t make it. Best of luck with yours (and love your blog BTW!)

  2. If you like the color of your wood, get a matte finish (because “shiny” is obvious)”water-sealer”, it will cause the least color change while making your wood last longer. If the window box wood and the fence don’t quite match, an added stain can help remedy that. Only do the bleach wash when reapplying, as it dries out the wood considerably if you apply it when raw. Great makeover, and maybe the neighbors will upgrade the side fences, since they took the guy’s info!

    • Thanks for the comment and for the tip on the matte finish — I think we do like the color of the fence quite a bit as it is, so a clear matte finish sounds promising. And I probably should have mentioned in the post, but the neighbor that asked for the card was actually two houses down from us, so unfortunately we wouldn’t benefit directly if they replaced all of their fences… although I can still hope for our direct next-door neighbors to be inspired by this makeover as well! :)

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