Garden Fence Styles

If you know where the fence is going and what height you want the new fence to be then now it's time to choose a style of fence and make some decisions based on your preferences.  Maybe you have seen a fence you liked in someone else's garden along the street, or you can look at literally millions of photos on the Google search and click on "images".  That will present you with a huge choice and variety of shapes, sizes, styles and materials. 

Cost is probably a big factor for most of us too, so it's always going to affect our decisions when it comes to making decisions on anything.  Fencing is no different in that regard and prices reflect the length, height and style of fence you choose.

We'll start with the least expensive option and work from there. That way you will have a pretty good idea of which option is best for you as we go through the various options available.

The most basic, most simple fence is probably the original boundary marker fence which most builders stick in the ground on new build housing estates.  It's cheap and cheerful, and it's only there to do one basic task, and that is to mark where they say the boundary is, and as we went through on the boundary page, sometimes they get it wrong. But that's another story lol

Boundary markers usually consist of a few 50mm stakes hammered or pushed into the new soil at around a foot or 30cm high and then a thin band of strapping is simply nailed to the tops of the stakes to give a very low, very cheap way of fencing the edge of the property. It's not meant to be there forever and although some homeowners leave it and live with it, most will probably choose to remove it soon after taking possession of the property and erect something more substantial, as per their individual needs.

Maybe that's all you need, if you want to just show the line of where your property ends and your neighbour's property begins.  It's as simple as that and you can DIY it or call in any fencing contractor or handyman to get that done fairly quickly and at relatively low cost.  It doesn't usually involve any digging out or pouring concrete and the only tools required are a saw, some nails and a hammer.  Simple, cheap and effective.

The next option on from the basic boundary marker would probably be a simple upgrade to that, but making it a little more substantial.  You could opt to leave the original pegs in the ground and remove the flimsy strapping to replace it with a decorative trellis or some lengths of fence board.  Typically these would be 3.6m or 12ft lengths of 4 inch (100mm) wide timber.  We would add a top edge capping rail to that to give a nice finish, and that would make for a somewhat more pleasing look to the edge of the property.  It wouldn't be enough to keep a dog in or out, or to keep young children safe inside the garden, but again, if you don't need any of that, then it doesn't really matter too much.

Moving on to the more popular fencing now, and we'll begin with the 3ft high or 1m fencing.  That's generally the starting option, especially in front gardens where it is the only option in most cases, if you want to stay within the planning permission rules and regulations.

These are just some examples of 3ft or 1m high fencing we've done for our clients over the years.

There's a choice between ready made fence panels which you find tends to be the favourite of the big DIY stores like B&Q, Wickes and Homebase, and now B&M are selling them too, so it's worth a look in all of the stores to see if they have something you like or maybe something a bit different.  What I like about panels is they are always generally available.  There is one popular design and a specific size so they tend to be very compatible when it comes to replacing on or two.  Panels are generally quite cheap and very easy to paint or spray with creosote substitute treatment or coloured fence preservative.  On the down side, they are thin, so they don't take a knock very well.  A hard hit with a football is all it takes to damage a slat so that's worth bearing in mind.  I found that urban foxes have learned how easy it is to chew through fence panels too.  Foxes like to keep their scavenging routes open so they can do their morning rounds and no fence panel is going to stop them lol. Saying that, I've had several clients over the years, ask me to cut holes in their panels to allow wildlife a passage way through.  That could be rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs or just the house cat.  It's something else to consider, so if you choose to go with the ever popular lap fence panels, just be aware that Mr Fox will find a way so if you have dogs or cats and want to keep foxes out, then maybe you need to think about a more sturdy option, like a palisade or picket style fence.

For a 3ft or 1m high fence, there is a choice of whether or not to use concrete on the fence posts. We always have, but some homeowners choose not to bother with it and simply knock their fence posts into the ground and make the best of it that way.  For me, if the job is worth doing, and the money is worth spending, then you might as well do the job right, but maybe there is always an occasion which says doing the job without concrete is justified. Maybe it's a quick job to make a property presentable in order to sell it or hand it back to the landlord.  It's up to you, but I always felt the need to set my posts in concrete.

The other option a lot of people choose it to use the steel post spikes, but I'm not a fan of those and I'll tell you why.  Utilities.  In the old days lol, when the water, gas and electrics were buried deep, deep underground, you could have knocked those metal spikes into the ground all day long and never feared for your life once, but those days are gone I'm afraid.  I find some contractors, not all, but some, are out there laying utilities in a hurry and they are cutting corners to save money by laying trenches in the wrong places, literally cutting corners and not going nearly deep enough.  The utility registers tell contractors where power water and gas should be located on the property, but the reality doesn't match sometimes, and it can catch you out if you're not aware of it.  The guidance from the Institute of Civil Engineering says explicitly to "dig gingerly" if you suspect a pipe or cable is close to where you are digging. Professional contractors also have detectors at their disposal to confirm the placement of utilities in gardens and on commercial property, and to detect any water, gas, electricity or telecoms cables prior to putting a spade in the ground, but even then things are not always entirely predictable or safe, so it baffles me that these DIY post spikes are sold in such huge volumes.

Just be aware, a post spike will go through a gas pipe, a water pipe, a communications, TV or broadband cable and an electricity power cable like a hot knife through butter, and if it does, you will have opened up a Pandora's box of problems for yourself and probably your neighbours too.  

I've never liked spikes, never used them and I have even refused work when the client insisted on them in order to save money. I just won't put myself or my team in danger or expose the company to that liability. Post spikes, just say no lol

Moving on, let's look at some higher fence options.  This is where some fencers will say your choices are limited because the wind comes into effect so the fence has to have spaces to let the wind pass through.  If a contractor tells you that, it's because they don't want to do a good job setting the posts deep enough to take the wind force, but if the job is done right, there no wind that will ever blow down your fence.  As a general rule of thumb, however high your fence is going to be, halve it, and that's how deep your fence posts should be in the ground.  For me, I always stick to that rule and it has served me well.  We provide a 10 year guarantee with all of our fences, and we do that safe in the knowledge that we build to last 20-30 years, so a 10 year guarantee is pretty easy for us to give with all of our work, and I have never, in 20 years of fencing, had any of my fences come down in any storm.

So, back to higher fence styles.  Here are some we've built for our clients over the years. 

There's quite a variety there but the classic 6ft or 1.8m high fence is definitely the most popular choice. That height gives good privacy and added security.  The decision then is more about the privacy aspect of the fence and whether or not you want to be able to see out beyond the fence or if you prefer to be completely private and not allow people outside to see into your property.  The cost element comes into it of course, as when you decide to completely clad the fence with no gaps, or overlap the slats to provide the added strength and privacy that affords, the cost will increase with the additional timber and labour required to do the extra work involved.  For me, quoting jobs to my clients, I often worked up two or three quotes with the various options so that my clients could see the differences in the prices.  Your contractor or timber supplier should be happy to do that for you too, so don't be afraid to ask.  All I'll say at this point is be wary of anyone who looks up at the sky and plucks a figure from thin air.  Even with a lot of experience, that's no way to do business.  I put a pen to paper and work it out properly, not least because, prices can change on a daily basis at the timber yards and there's nothing worse than getting a quote wrong and having to adjust a quoted price later, or lose money on a job.  

Next up is choosing the correct fence post for the job.  Click here to go there.