You don’t need a building permit to put
up a fence. But you do need to know
Madison’s laws governing the height and
placement of fences and screening.
You also need to check for any deed
restrictions or covenants on your
property that might regulate
improvements in your yard. Refer to the
documents you signed and received
when you purchased your house.
If you’re not sure that your proposed
fence will meet the requirements, call
266-4560 (Zoning) for help. Zoning staff
will be happy to advise you so that your
fence is both safe and attractive.
Find out if your proposed fence
or planting project will meet the
- A fence may be erected up to the lot
line, but no part of the fence or post
may encroach over the lot line. Keep a
fence or plantings back from the
property line to allow easy
maintenance. It is your choice whether
to fence in the entire yard or only part of
There is no legal requirement that the
good side of the fence face your
neighbor. But it s a good idea to talk
over your fence project with your
neighbors and find out their concerns.
- Fence or hedge height shall be measured from natural or approved grade. In the case of grade separation, such as the division of properties by a retaining wall, fence or hedge height shall be determined based on measurement from the average point between highest and lowest grade. If the fence or hedge is set back from the retaining wall by a distance of at least 4 feet, the height shall be measured from the base of the fence or hedge. Berms and retaining walls shall not be used to increase grade relative to screening height.
- Screening fences or hedges in the front yard setback may be no higher than 4 feet. Ornamental fences may be 5 feet high if less than 50% opaque and 6 feet high if less than 20% opaque.
- Screening fences or hedges in corner street side yards may be 6 feet high if set back 4 feet from the street side lot line or located behind the rear plane of the principal building. Otherwise, they are limited to 4 feet in height.
- Screening fences or hedges in rear or interior side yards may be 6 feet high. If your yard adjoins a commercial district, the fence or hedge may be 8 feet high along the common property line.
- Street intersection corners may have fences or hedges that are 2 feet or less in height. Trees cannot have branches lower than 10 feet above ground level. These requirements are for fences, hedges, or trees within 25 feet, on either side, from the corner of the lot. This lets pedestrians and autos have a clear view of traffic.
- In-ground pools must be enclosed
by a fence that is at least 4 feet
high. A pool fence must also have a
gate with a lock.
Above-ground pools with sides
that are less than 4 feet high do not
need to be enclosed by a fence.
However, access to an aboveground
pool must be controlled. A
removable ladder is an easy way to
meet this requirement.
Driveways may be lined by fences
or plantings that you cannot see
through. But any place within 10 feet
of where the driveway intersects
with a street-side lot line, fences or
plantings cannot be more than 2 feet
high. If your neighbor’s driveway is
closer than 10 feet to the lot line,
this rule also applies to your
plantings or fence.
Retaining walls are subject to the
same height considerations as other
types of fences. Retaining wall
height is measured from the natural
grade of the land to the top of the
wall or to the top of a wall/screen
combination at the lot line.
Locate your lot lines
should be metal stakes at each
corner of your lot. It is important
that you find them. Talk with your
neighbors or use a metal detector. If
you can’t locate your lot lines yourself,
you may need to hire a surveyor. The
City cannot help you with this.
Call Diggers Hotline
Call the Diggers Hotline, 1-800-
242-8511, to avoid rupturing
underground utilities that you may
not know are there. A utility company
employee will come out and mark the
location of underground electric, sewer,
telephone, and cable lines in your yard.
You may need to change the placement
of your fence or plantings if it is over
one of these lines.
Put up the fence or hedge
Install fencing according to
manufacturer’s instructions. The
company you purchased your
fence from can supply you with
instructions on how best to put up your
particular fence. Plant your trees and
shrubs as directed by the nursery.
Keep your fence and plantings
in good condition. Paint and
repair fences on a regular basis.
Trim shrubbery to maintain height
requirements and keep it off of
sidewalks, streets, and neighbor s
Related Forms & Handouts
- (608) 266-4551