Pool Fence Latches: What are my safety options?

Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

 In ground pools have become more affordable in the past decade and that makes the subject of operational gate latches a major benefit to homeowners and pool fence installers. It can be a confusing topic for those who are not familiar with pool code requirements

Pool safety latches are designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, for small children to open the gate. These latches typically open by pulling up on a knob that releases the latch. This is an unusual opening action and kids are not inclined to understand how to unlock the gate. The latches are installed at the top of the gate to ensure that the latch is ‘out of reach’. Virginia Pool Code requires that the latch mechanism be at 54” above ground or higher. These latches also have a key lock on them as well.

Pool gates must also be equipped with automatically self-closing hinges that open away not towards the pool area. Once the gate swings back to the closed position the latch will automatically engage: it is then necessary for the pool-owner to actually turn the lock on the gate for additional security. Every city, county, or municipality has some form of pool code or regulations regarding the gate latches for pool fences.

Choosing an aluminum or vinyl pool gate latch that is compliant with those particular regulatory codes, is very important for safety and liability . 

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Peace of Mind is Priceless

Even in the very rare situation that your city, county or municipality does not have a code regulating the use of pool safety latches it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. Your pool or fence professional will be familiar with your local pool fence code

By using an approved pool safety latch you will be providing security for your family as well as any wandering neighborhood children and pets who may exhibit interest in your inviting new pool. 

Below are a few options for your pool fence safety latch. Before you select and buy your latch, it is best to speak with your hired fence project manager in order to make sure that the pool fence you are installing or updating will work with this type of pool attachment.

MagnaLatch Series 3 Top Pull Manual Lock

  • Tested to 2 million cycles!
  • Up to 50% stronger!
  • • Visual Indicator provides locked & unlocked status
  • • 6-pin re-keyable security lock
  • • Vertical & horizontal alignment indicators
  • • Superior performance in extreme climates
  • • Industry's greatest gate/post movement tolerance
  • • Innovative vertical & horizontal adjustment
  • • T-track for superior fixing strength
  • • Lift knob is more ergonomic and child resistant
  • • Industry leading magnetic latching technology
81HVdYUtiYL._SL1500_.jpg 61xDo8kyRlL._SL1500_.jpg 31VaUjLMbnL.jpg

MagnaLatch Series 3 Magnetic Pool Child Safety Gate Latch - Top Pull 

  • World's most trusted pool safety gate latch. Industry leader protecting millions of toddlers and pets.

  • Superior magnetic mechanism ensures frictionless, self-latching every time. No jamming!

  • For Vinyl, Wood, or Metal Gates

  • No rusting or corroding

  • Super-tough polymer construction

MagnaLatch Key-Lockable Side Pull

 • Reliable latching action

• Key-lockable

• Adapts to all gates

• Magnetically triggered (no jamming or sticking)

• Quick & easy install


*Please note: Magna Latch only works on shorter fences
because the owner must be able to reach over the latch to operate it. 


american fence association blue ribbon contractor hurricane fence ANGIES_LIST_2015_SSAWARD.jpg angies-list-reviews-logo_copy-1.png





Topics: Code, Pool Gate Hardware, Regulation, Pool Gates

Va. Fence Law: Who's Actually Responsible for the Cost of My Fence?

Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Fri, May 09, 2014

As the weather warms, Virginian's are beginning to make their outdoor wishlists. If you're thinking of installing an above or in-ground swimming pool or trying your hand at urban or rural farming, the majority of the information in this article will greatly help you in understanding the ordinances, cost and responsibilities surrounding your 2014 outdoor projects. And—you might have to spend less than you think.

The info in this article is coming straight from the Virginia Legislative Branch's website http://leg1.state.va.us/. Most of what is covered is state level laws but each locality has its own set of governing laws that tend to vary greatly—and lean specific to that geographic location and the prevailing uses for fence installation in that area.

Like most laws, fence regulations can be somewhat convoluted. That's why it's of the utmost importance to pick a fence contractor that understands Virginia's fence laws at the state level. Laws are set by each locality. Most statutes that accompany Virginia fence installation are in reference to livestock(1); fence and its use for pools(2) and railroads(3) are also mentioned in some codes.

Swimming Pool Laws

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For example, if you live in an area that has ordinances that excersizes the maximum punitive actions allowed by § 15.2-921 and you violate said ordinances by not having a fence around a pool, or the fence takes more than 24 days to complete, a person could face as much as $7200 in fines plus court costs or 2 years in jail. The last part of § 15.2-921 simply states "Any such ordinance may be made applicable to swimming pools constructed before, as well as those constructed after, the adoption thereof. No such ordinance shall take effect less than ninety days from the adoption thereof, nor shall any such ordinance apply to any swimming pool operated by or in conjunction with any hotel located on a government reservation." In short ordincances are not required to include a grandfather clause, take atleast 90 day before becoming active and do not apply to swimming pools operated by or in conjunction with any hotel on a government reservation.

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Since the Virginia legal guideline for pool fences is the most strait forward we can cover that first. 

Virginia code § 15.2-921 defines the word "fence" as a close type vertical barrier not less than four feet in height above ground surface.

woven steel wire, chain link, picket or solid board type fence, or a fence of similar construction which will prevent the smallest of children from getting through.(2) Keep in mind, that this definition is only in reference to residential property."Ordinances may require professional fence construction for new or existing swimming pools." This means that if a fence is less that 4 feet doesnt count for the perpose of fencing a pool.A pool or more specifically a swimming pool is defined as "any outdoor man-made structure constructed from material other than natural earth or soil designed or used to hold water for the purpose of providing a swimming or bathing place for any person or any such structure for the purpose of impounding water therein to a depth of more than two feet."(2) this definition is prefeced with the word "includes" in § 15.2-921 meaning that broader definitions may also apply.The code of virginia § 15.2-921 grants any locality the ability to "adopt ordinances making it unlawful for any person to construct, maintain, use, possess or control any pool on any property in such locality, without having a fence completely around such swimming pool. Such ordinances also may provide that every gate in such fence shall be capable of being securely fastened at a height of not less than four feet above ground level; that it shall be unlawful for any such pool gate to be allowed to remain unfastened while the pool is not in use; and that such fence shall be constructed so as to come within two inches of the ground at the bottom and shall be at least five feet from the edge of the pool at any point." the code the restricts the the punative actions of a loacality tofine of not more than $300 or confinement in jail for not more than thirty days, either or both. Each day's violation may be construed as a separate offense." but with each day being a seperate offince it can add up.

gricultural Fence

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Virginia law as it pertains to fence in agricultrial applications is somewhat contradictory. When it comes to fencing used for livestock, there are two main schools of thought.

"Fence In" where the live stock are to be contrained on a given property via  dating back to 17th century english common law.(1) The other common philosophy is referred to as "Fence Out" in which it is the responsibility of a land owner who whishes to keep livestock off their property had to build their own fence. The type of fence law that applies changes from county to county. Here are a list of Virginia Counties who participate.

“Fence In” Counties: Albemarle, Arlington, Augusta, Bedford, Botetourt, Buckingham, Campbell, Charles City, Chesterfield, Clarke, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dickenson, Fauquier, Floyd, Fluvanna, Gloucester, Goochland, Greene, Halifax, Hanover, Isle of Wight, King George, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, New Kent, Orange, Page, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Roanoke, Rockingham, Russell, Scott, Southampton, Spotsylvania, Smyth, Sussex, Washington, Wise, Wythe, York.

“Fence Out” Counties are Accomack, Alleghany, Amelia, Amherst, Appomattox, Bath, Bland, Brunswick, Buchanan, Caroline, Carroll, Charlotte, Chesapeake, Craig, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fairfax, Franklin, Frederick, Giles, Grayson, Greensville, Hampton, Henrico, Henry, Highland, James City, King & Queen, King William, Lancaster, Lee, Lunenburg, Mathews, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, Montgomery, Nelson, Newport News, Northumberland, Northampton, Nottoway, Orange, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Prince George, Prince William, Richmond, Rockbridge, Shenandoah, Stafford, Suffolk, Surry, Tazewell, Virginia Beach, Warren, Westmoreland.

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The information above came frome https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/news/fbmu/2009/12/article_4.html

While wordy, provided below is the exact wording of "§ 55-299. Definition of lawful fence." taken from https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+55-299.

§ 55-299. Definition of lawful fence.

Every fence shall be deemed a lawful fence as to any livestock named in § 55-306, which could not creep through the same, if

(1) Five feet high, including, if the fence be on a mound, the mound to the bottom of the ditch,

(2) Of barbed wire, 42 inches high, consisting of at least four strands of barbed wire, firmly fixed to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground, spaced no farther than 12 feet apart unless a substantial stay or brace is installed halfway between such posts, trees or other supports to which such wires shall be also fixed,

(3) Of boards, planks, or rails, 42 inches high, consisting of at least three boards firmly attached to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground,

(4) Three feet high within the limits of any incorporated town whose charter does not prescribe, nor give to the council thereof power of prescribing, what shall constitute a lawful fence within such corporate limits, or

(5) Any fence of any kind whatsoever, except as described in this section, and except in the case of incorporated towns as set forth in subdivision (4), which shall be:

a. At least 42 inches high,

b. Constructed from materials sold for fencing or consisting of systems or devices based on technology generally accepted as appropriate for the confinement or restriction of livestock named in § 55-306, and

c. Installed pursuant to generally acceptable standards so that applicable livestock named in § 55-306 cannot creep through the same.

A cattle guard reasonably sufficient to turn all kinds of livestock shall also be deemed a lawful fence as to any livestock mentioned in § 55-306.

Nothing contained in this section shall affect the right of any such town to regulate or forbid the running at large of cattle and other domestic animals within its corporate limits.

The Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services may adopt rules and regulations regarding lawful fencing consistent with this section to provide greater specificity as to the requirements of lawful fencing. The absence of any such rule or regulation shall not affect the validity or applicability of this section as it relates to what constitutes lawful fencing.

(Code 1950, § 8-869; 1977, c. 624; 2007, c. 574.)

There are other statues that allow for some bodies of water in certain circumstances to also be considered "Lawful Fences"  to include 55-300, 55-302, and 55-303. more information can be found at https://leg1.state.va.us/

Reguardless of whether a property is in a "Fence In" or Fence Out" county there are Virginia statutes that provide a means by which one land owner may compel a neighbor to aide in the construction or maintenance of a given boundry fence. The law also makes a dinstinction between existing and none existng boundry fence.

"Virginia fence law refers only to landowners.  The Code does not mention ‘tenants’ or ‘owners of livestock.’  This has very real implications for landowners who lease land to farmers with an understanding that the farmer-tenant maintains all fences. Landowners should be aware of their potential obligations and liability related to maintaining boundary fences."(1)

In summary the law surrounding fence is convoluted and often contradictory thus it is a good idea to get legal advice on these matters. Keep in mind that if the situation arises that a fence is to be mandated, there may be legal recourse for the construction and, or financing of a mandated fence when it lies between two properties.

Read Virginia Legislative Fence Ordinances in their etirity at the folllowing websites:





Topics: Fence Design, Perimeter Security, Specifications, High Security Fence, Pool Gate Hardware, Regulation, Fence Maintenance, Richmond Fence, fence law, fence regulations, swimming pool regulations, agricultural fence, virginia fence code


Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Fri, Apr 25, 2014

Form Follows Function: Do Snow Fences still Serve a Purpose?

Wonder whether these decidedly low-tech, structures are as valuable in the age of technology, as they were in the past? Absolutely.

Snow fences are actually an ancient unsophisticated technology. Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is a 20-foot section of “snow fencing” near Stonehenge (circa 3000 B.C.) on England’s Salisbury Plain, an indication of what the English climate might have been like at that time.

snow fence header copy

 snow covered fence 1233

Geologist/Geophysicist Dr. Garry Denke believes the fence was used to channel drift snow in predictable ways, possibly for water storage. If you want to see the impact that a channel drift can have, take a look at this snow storm incident from the Discovery Channel.


During the colonial era, deep snows often crippled mail service and overall commerce for days— even weeks—at a time. Although snow-clearing ordinances weren’t yet in widespread use, cities and towns generally took matters into their own hands, clearing drifts so sleighs could get through.

Ranchers learned that by erecting “snow fences” near the windward side of roadways and other areas they wanted to shield, significant savings in time and money could be achieved by minimizing snow-clearing operations.

Later, despite technological advances such as the Barber-Green Snowloader (introduced in Chicago in 1920), which plowed, scooped and dumped the snow into haulers, snow fences still maintained their popularity.

An example of this is small airports. Runway clearing costs could be greatly reduced by minimizing snow depth in rural areas. Overall, the sheer simplicity of the snow fence struck a chord with farmers, ranchers and highway workers.

Today, in conjunction with many new and ingenious snow-clearing devices, such as the Next Generation Snow Plow and the Single-Lane-Obstructing Rotary Snow Plow, snow fences have retained their popularity. In fact, they’ve even been improved upon, as the Japanese have developed a blower snow fence, which “increases air flow in the area of the fence, resulting in even less blowing snow on the roadway.”

Although there are many kinds (living, natural wood, plastic, vinyl etc.) the device is basically a porous barrier situated on the windward side of an area needing maximum snow protection, such as a highway. Upon meeting the barrier, snow-laden winds pass through with greatly diminished velocity, releasing most of the snow on the leeward side. For the fencing to be effective, the design build  plan must take into account the prevailing wind speed and direction as well as average snowfall rates during storms.

For every foot in length of a 4-foot tall snow fence, 4.2 tons of snow are held at bay.

Possibly the most striking property of snow fences is revealed in a 2005 article in “Government Engineering,” a State of Wyoming publication. The article calculated that mechanical snow removal costs about $3.00 for every 2.2 tons of snow. By comparison, for every foot in length of a 4-foot tall snow fence, 4.2 tons of snow, on average, are held back.

Thus, for a 20-foot section of snow fence, almost 85 tons of snow are stored, saving about $116.00, less installation and maintenance costs of the fencing. This article concluded that the reduced number of highway injuries, deaths, and property damage claims were considered, the cost-benefit ratio of the fences was even more favorable.

Here's a video explaining how a snow fence works:

Screen shot 2014 01 28 at 11.58.40 PM

The coolest thing about these snow fences is that they’re not designed to “catch” blowing snow—in fact, they aren’t a boundary at all in the traditional sense. Instead, the slats of the fence slow down the wind as it passes through. And the wind then drops some of the snow it’s carrying.

dune fence

Snow fencing doesn’t just serve as a snow barrier, it’s also been found useful in, water conservation, debris collection and beach erosion control, where warm blowing sand sometimes behaves as cold winter snow. This means that most of the fence-conjured   elements accumulate downwind of the snow fence—i.e. after the wind and and it's passengers have passed through.

Today, snow fences continue to be celebrated in art for their simplistic efficiency through their minimal design. They've managed to converge a fascinating blend of natural and man-made materials and basic physics.

Snow Fence Art




Topics: Fence Design, Specifications, Vinyl Fence, Historical Fence, Regulation, Maintenance, wood fence

The 1st Monument: Iron Fence preserves America's earliest history.

Posted by Michelle Goodwin on Sun, Dec 08, 2013

Boundary Stone in Patrick Henry Apartments  Arlington Boundary Stones

The Boundary Markers of the Original District of Columbia are the 40 milestones that mark the four lines forming the boundaries between the states of Maryland and Virginia and the square of 100 square miles (259 km²) of federal territory that became the District of Columbia in 1801.While abandoned long ago, these structures are actually our nations first perimeter marker.

The Residence Act of July 16, 1790, as amended March 3, 1791, authorized President George Washington to select a 100-square-mile site for the national capital on the Potomac River between Alexandria, Virginia, and Williamsport, Maryland.

President Washington selected the southernmost location within these limits, so that the capital would include all of present-day Old Town Alexandria, then one of the four busiest ports in the country. Acting on instructions from Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Major Andrew Ellicott began surveying the ten-mile square on February 12, 1791.  

The stones had all but disappeared but were recovered by volunteers from the Maryland Society of Surveyors while working on a resurvey of the D.C. line. David R. Doyle of Silver Spring, Maryland, placed the marker in his garage in 1991. Just south of Washington DC in Arlington, A survey team in 1791 led by Major Andrew Ellicott placed these fenced in markers. A humbly sit 39 milestones that mark the four lines forming the boundaries between the states of Maryland and Virginia and the square of 100 square miles (259 km²) of federal territory that became the District of Columbia in 1801.

Before the surveyors stepped in, the relics of our nation's infant stage had been ignored and were largely unknown, even by those who live a few feet from them. No one has been quite sure what to do with them for more than 200 years. 
Only one, the boundary stone in is a National Landmark. The other 39 are on the National Register of Historic Places, but receive no federal preservation money and no maintainence.
Some of the stones are all but gone, some have been moved to accommodate road and building construction and others have been stolen or lost, according to the Nation’s Capital Boundary Stones Committee’s Boundarystones.org site. All 10 stones within Arlington’s limits are authentic originals. They are at the following locations: 

  1. North side of Walter Reed Parkway 100+ feet east of intersection with King Street. Only the stump of this stone remains. Its current condition is consistent with Woodward's 1908 report that the "stone is broken, and the top seems to be lost. The entire base, with a few inches of the finished portion, was found lying on the ground in approximately the same spot where it had originally been placed." This stone is now nearly 45 feet from its original position and is enclosed by wrought iron fencing structures that protect and preserve them. 5000 block, Old Dominion Drive (private residence)
  2. 3000 block, N. Powhatan Street (private residence)Andrew Ellicott Park, 2824 N. Arizona Street
  3. Benjamin Banneker Park, 1701 N. Van Buren Street
  4. In the parking lot of Patrick Henry Apartments Complex, the 6000 block of Wilson Blvd
  5. Carlin Springs Elementary School parking lot
  6. The median on the 1000 block of S. Jefferson Street
  7. The north side of the 2700 block of S. Walter Reed Drive
  8. Fairlington Village, King Street, between S. Wakefield Street and I-395 
Four of the forty original boundary markers were not in or near their original locations in 2006. Three of these had been replaced with protective gate markers. Below, summaries of some of the most intriguing stones and their current locations.

Southwest No. 2 Boundary Marker

7 Russell Road: east side of Russell Road just north of King Street. This is neither the original stone nor the original location. Baker and Woodward reported the original stone to be missing as of the late 1800s, and DAR records show that the current stone was placed at this location in 1920. The original stone was located about 0.35 northwest of this replacement. According to Woodward, the original "stone was evidently placed on the east side, and very close to, [King Street], on the eastern side of Shuter's Hill, in a subdivision" now called Rosemont.  
SW Boundnary stone  Southwest Boundary Stone  

Southeast No. 4 Boundary Marker

Adjacent to Fairlington Village at the edge of east side of King Street between S. Wakefield Street and Route 395. According to Woodward, farm plows had destroyed the top of this stone by the early 1900s. After being repositioned when the highway was widened, the remaining portion of the stone has sunk very low into the ground but is still safe from vandalism or street traffic thanks to an ornamental fence enclosure.

Southwest No. 5 Boundary Marker

North side of Walter Reed Parkway 100+ feet east of intersection with King Street. Only the stump of this stone remains. Its current condition is consistent with Woodward's 1908 report that the "stone is broken, and the top seems to be lost. The entire base, with a few inches of the finished portion, was found lying on the ground in approximately the same spot where it had originally been placed." This stone is now nearly 45 feet from its original position and secured by a specialty fence Specialty Fence.

Topics: Fence Design, Perimeter Security, Gates, Specialty Fence, Commercial Fence, Historical Fence, Historical Fence, Code, Fence Permit, Regulation, Fence Maintenance, Maintenance, Cast Iron Fencing

Do I Need A Fence Permit For My Project?

Posted by Dawn Lowndes on Tue, Nov 30, 2010
There are several factors influencing whether or not a permit is needed for building a fence. Privacy fence Norfolk virginia

- Is the project in a Commercial or Residential zone?

- How tall is the proposed fence?

- What material is the fence to be made out of?

Once you have determined the answers to these questions, check your county or city’s website where the fence is being built. You should be able to easily access zoning regulations and building permit guidelines on your specific local governmental site.

 Commercial fence permits do not typically allow building a fence more than 6 or 7 feet high. If you are installing security fencing you can certainly apply for the permit and it will be decided by your locality. Another option for higher fences is to apply for a variance for the specific height allowance.  I have found this process to be time consuming and it can require plenty of paperwork. Cities and counties will definitely take into account whether or not the fence will be transparent; for example a chain link fence versus a solid wood fence.

Commercial building permit applications can be printed off most county or cities websites and then emailed. Typically your submission will need to include the permit application, a site plan, fence specification sheets, and a method of payment for the application fee. The fees for projects taking place in commercial zones are sometimes waived.

Residential fence permits can be trickier and are often made difficult in housing subdivisions. Not only do you have to obtain city or county approval, but you may also need the consent of your Homeowners Association (HOA) if you live in a managed housing development. Typically, a residential fence can be no more than 6’ in height and a lot of HOA’s require a ‘natural looking’ fence. These are typified as wood or a neutral painted aluminum. I find it to be most expedient to check with your city or county first and then check your HOA guidelines second. This process may be somewhat painless or excruciatingly complex, depending on how stringent your Homeowners Association guidelines read. These rules can seem sticky, however they are in place to protect the resident homeowner’s from some extreme stylistic decisions that could affect property values. In a residential setting, I have found it easier to obtain permits by matching existing fence styles in the neighborhood. This can forestall any arguments concerning what fence is, and is not allowed within the community.

It is often surprising to homeowners that a building permit is needed for a fence.  They may even think the need for a permit is unjust, or some sort of hidden method of taxation. This is a shortsighted understanding of the benefits of building permits. Building permits can offer reassurance to the homeowner and neighboring parties to know that the project is done safely and in a way that was planned and completed to local specs.  This can help to maintain local property values as well. So the problem of obtaining a permit is outweighed by the long-term benefit within the local community.


Article contributed by fence professional Meagan Kenny

Topics: Residential Fence, Commercial Fence, Code, Fence Permit, Regulation

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