What is the lowest maintenance fence? The alternative materials landscapers recommend for long-lasting boundaries

Standard timber fences have a limited shelf life - these alternatives promise to last (and look better) for longer

a dark grey garden fence
(Image credit: Paul Dyer. Design: Spiegel Aihara Workshop)

The white picket fence is the pinnacle of many American homes, but it does require a lot of upkeep. Once you consider all the annual sanding, painting, and regular cleaning. The front yard fence is the first impression people have of your home, so keeping it looking good is important. It should be a reflection of your style and the rest of your home. Although picket fences can look smart when they are maintained, they often require a lot of upkeep. 

Luckily there are many alternative for your modern front yard. In fact, there are so many options out there with a wide range of styles, prices, and maintenance levels. 

But, if you are looking for a fencing alternative that offers a low-maintenance solution,  we spoke to fencing experts to discover the best options for easy-to-care-for yards that require little attention and still look great.


Wood is the obvious choice for privacy fence, but it isn't the easiest material to deal with. It often requires regular maintenance to keep it looking tip-top. our home service experts reveal some of their favorite low-maintenance alternatives.

'Vinyl fencing stands out as a top choice for those prioritizing low-maintenance,' says Roman Smolevskiy, General contractor and owner of A+ Construction & Remodeling. Vinyl offers many advantages that more traditional materials just can't match. 'Unlike wood, it doesn't rot or warp, and you'll never need to repaint or stain it,' Roman explains, 'the occasional wash with a garden hose is often enough to keep it looking new.'

Vinyl is resistant to many of the issues that plague other fencing materials such as pests, disease, and rust.


metal fence

(Image credit: Fortress Building Products)

Metal fences are another popular alternative that come in a variety of types, shapes, and sizes. 'All metal fences are low-maintenance, but wire fences tend to be completely maintenance-free,' explains home expert at Angi, Mallory Micetich

Aluminum, steel, and wrought iron are also low-maintenance front yard ideas that can look expensive too. 'Steel is a durable, strong, and inherently low-maintenance building material,' says Jarrett Adams the director of the fencing category at Fortress Building Products. 'Steel can sidestep any issues associated with moisture absorption, one of the most common reasons traditional wood fencing will slowly deteriorate outdoors,' he explains. 'As a result, steel fencing can maintain its strength and beautiful, modern aesthetic with minimal maintenance over its service life.'

How to make wood low maintenance

the front of a stylish house and front yard

(Image credit: Fredrickson Landscape)

There are many garden fencing ideas but if you like to keep it traditional and are dead set on wood, there are some things you can do to make it low maintenance. Roxil's wood expert, Dr. Jonathan Kirby, explains how your choice of wood can impact its care routine and the treatments to do if you want to keep it hassle-free.

'Wooden fencing has become a popular choice for many people’s gardens,' says Jonathan, 'and with the right treatment, it can be really low maintenance.'

Traditional fences tend to be built using softwoods like larch, pine, and cedar, due to being lightweight, versatile, and affordable. However, they have some setbacks. 'They produce beautiful structures, but softwoods are absorbent, which makes them vulnerable to moisture ingress, algae, warping and rot, as well as woodworm,' Jonathan explains. However, with the right preventative treatments, they can be made to be long-lasting.

Waterproofing is an important step, especially if you live in a wet climate. 'Using a waterproofing wood treatment,  followed by a top-coat, means that fencing requires minimal care and attention, as it protects against most types of wood damage and moisture ingress for 10 years,' he says. Turning your wooden fence into a long-term investment that doesn't require loads of constant effort.

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Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.