When we bought our place, we knew we would need some sort of fenced area for the dogs, so they could be outside with us more, and outside unsupervised more. Over the almost 5 years we have been here (and how it has been that long I have NO idea!!), we got used to the lay of the land, and moved things around (like the chicken coop), and established new garden spaces, and slowly we worked out where the fence would go, and what it would contain. We decided that it made sense to have that fenced area for the yard, for the kids too, so that there would be a 'safe' area where the kids could play, with the dogs out with them. We decided that having the existing orchard separate made sense, and having the new side garden and chicken area, as well as the lower garden, adjoining the yard also made sense.
I can't speak enough of the benefit of letting the space work as it is for a while, and making updates and changes slowly, once you see how you use the place, and what the strengths and weaknesses of the different areas of land are. As a result, we're pretty happy with where the fence is going in, where the gates are, how the overall area works within the larger landscape of our property, and how our play, garden, and living spaces work within the fence.
Building the fence has definitely been a learning experience for us, one we have taken slowly, and one that has shaped us in more ways than we likely realize. We started the fence 2 years ago (!), redid the posts last spring, and finally are at the last stage in the final side. Much of the fencing material was free, either fencing and posts existing on our property in other areas, or as trees cut into poles, mostly from our property. Early on, I bought a great book - Fences for pasture & garden, by Gail Damerow, which really helped as we imagined and installed the fence. The details were especially great for figuring out things like H-brace tensioning, which I had never done before.
Just as we have learned from installing the fence, so to has my husband learned from building the gates. His first gates were flimsy things with short lifespans, but these latest gates have been things of beauty, with the strength necessary to last.
Although at times we get frustrated with the number of things still on our dream list for this property, and at the slow progress we seem to be making, when we sit back and look at the pictures of when we moved in, and compare those pictures to how the place is now, we are somewhat awed of what all we have accomplished, even if it isn't near done, or quite under control yet!