How to choose a garden fence.
Luckily, given that pretty much all of us have at least one, there are as many different types as fence as there are reasons for having one.
If you want wood then cedar is a great choice, but treated pine is cheaper and can be just as effective if well cared for – just check how it’s been treated. Fencing is often either dip-treated, where the wood is submerged in preservative, or pressure-treated where it is dipped in preservative but dried first.
Pressure-treated wood lasts longer but costs more, while dip-treated fences need periodic re-treating. Really it comes down to how much you want to spend.When you buy fencing, you can either have it custom made to specific dimensions or purchase ready-made panels in standard sizes.
You can put the fence up by yourself if you’re a competent (and confident) DIYer, but another pair of hands would be a big help. You won’t need building regs approval or planning permission (though if your property is listed you will need consent) but your fence does need to be structurally sound.
- Decide whether you want to use post supports which are quicker and easier or set your posts in concrete which is stronger but more difficult.
- To get the spacing right, put up the posts and panels alternately as you go down the line.
- For stability, make sure that at least a quarter of the total height of the post – ideally, 60cm – is below ground.
- Use a spirit level as you go to check that your panels are level.
- Use pressure-treated gravel boards below the panels to prolong the fence’s life.
- Remember that fences need to step up or down if they’re on a slope.
- Leave holes for hedgehogs under solid fences so they can move freely.
- Protect the timber from weathering by using post caps.
If your panels are heavy, use 100mm posts for additional strength.To mark rear garden boundaries, solid timber fencing, such as feather edge or lap panel, is best. Feather edge is stronger and more weather resistant.
It can be bought as individual panels or feather boards can be bought separately and fitted into a frame which gives you an uninterrupted stretch of fence. Lap fencing usually comes as panels and is cheaper.
If you want to screen off different garden areas, then you can use fencing that is less robust. Traditional square or lattice trellising is a good choice because it doesn’t block out sunlight and you can grow climbing plants against it to create a living wall. An alternative is slatted screening.
Picket-style fencing provides a low barrier – great for sectioning off a vegetable patch or gently demarcating territory – and you could always grow a hedge behind the fence or allow climbers to grow between the rails.
For a more rustic look, woven fencing made from willow or hazel is ideal – it’s practical too as it can be woven in place to fit curves and its open structure makes it wind-resistant. For a higher fence, woven panels can be strong and will protect plants from strong wind without blocking the sunlight.
Modern-looking slatted screens are ideal for attaching garden lights to if you’re enjoying the twilight but during the day they create shade while allowing a little light through, and if you like the industrial look, you could opt for a hardwearing metal fence or even classic iron railings. Good for security, there are plenty to choose from, and you can paint them in lots of colours – just like you can with fence paints.
Basically, with a little fencing aforethought, you can find the fence that suits your needs and turn it into as much of a feature as a necessity.