How to choose the right fence for your garden


I’ve written ‘how to’ articles on building a feather edge fence, installing fence panels and posts right down to how to install a garden gate and even how to dig post holes through tree roots and as I sit down tonight thinking of a topic to write about and feeling free from any near future garden fence articles, it suddenly dawned on me that I’ve written all of these ‘how to‘ articles without actually giving the actual advice on how to choose the right fence for your garden!

Every fence provides a purpose and believe it or not, there is more to a garden fence than the way it looks and whether or not your new fence will match your garden decor. It would be easy for me to simply list a variety of different fencing types, add some pictures and simply say “here are your choices – Pick one” but if I’m going to write an article explaining how to choose the right fence for your garden then I going to do it right!

Which garden fence lasts the longest?

I wouldn’t say that one fence type will last longer than another but instead it would depend on whether or not concrete posts and gravel boards were used to install your new garden fence.

The problem with timber is that it rots very easily, I mean just imagine a wooden post buried in the ground just soaking up all that wet earth. This is why wooden fence posts always fail where the post meets the earth and often see concrete spurs bolted in place to repair the rotten fence posts.

The same goes for fence panels or timber gravel boards that sit on the ground. I’m sure it looks nice and is aesthetically pleasing when first installed but if you want something longer lasting then I would recommend installing concrete fence posts and gravel boards.

Concrete posts won’t rot and the concrete gravel boards will keep the wooden fence elevated from the ground. Problem solved! That’s not to say that concrete is invincible as they can still crack and break over a long period time, but they sure do last alot longer than timber!

Does your garden sit at a different height to your neighbour’s garden?

This is a very good question and one that I’m going to get out of the way first! If your neighbour’s garden sits at a different height to your garden then this means that your fence needs to do more than just give you privacy – It needs to be strong and durable enough to retain the earth that sits at the greater height.

Let’s say for example that your neighbour’s garden or earth sits 1 foot higher than your garden – Well your not going to want to just install a new fence at their level as despite it looking nice on their side, you will have a foot of earth on your side which as it’s not being retained, may eventually start collapsing into your garden as well as not being aesthetically pleasing to begin with.

The first thing you are going to want to do is decide at which height you want the fence from the higher garden, and add the depth of your garden to the fence. For example, most garden fences are 6 feet high. If your garden sits 1 foot lower then you will need a total fence height of 7 feet – 7 feet high from your lower garden and 6 feet high from the higher garden.

If you need a fence to retain earth from a neighbouring garden then concrete posts and gravel boards are a must so this will narrow your choices down. If wooden gravel boards were used then they may not have the strength needed to hold the earth back as well as the fact that it won’t take long for them to rot under continuous damp conditions.

Concrete gravel boards can be purchased in 150mm and 300mm widths when used for fence panels, and 150mm widths when used for your feather edge fencing but you can add more gravel boards to reach your desired height.

What’s the best fence to install with obstacles in the way

I have had my fair share of obstacles in the path of my post holes when installing a new fence which have included large tree roots running along the fence line to the more common old concrete from a previously installed garden fence – Sometimes you just need to erect a garden fence with more flexibility.

If you want to use standard fence panels and your up against old concrete from a previously installed fence then there is an easier way around it as opposed to breaking the old concrete out of the ground. The trick is to simply cut the first panel by a foot or 2 which means that your first post hole will be dug before you reach the old concrete and therefore missing it completely along with every full sized fence panel thereafter, since each one will be a foot or 2 before where the old fence posts once were. It will take longer, but you can always break the old concrete and have your new fence in line where the old one once was.

If it’s tree roots in the way then you may struggle to dig your post holes but that’s not to say it can’t be done. You can spend some time trying to get through the tree roots but be prepared to spend some money on tools and have the motivation to keep going – It’s not easy. The alternative option is to move your post hole slightly towards the last fence post until you miss any tree roots and cut the fence panel down to size to fit between posts.

If you’d prefer a garden fence with more flexibility to install then I would opt for a feather edge fence since you typically build the fence bays as you go with arris rails available in 2.4, 3 and 3.6 meters although personally I tend to opt for the 3 meter arris rails and then cut to size when needed. This way you can focus on your post holes as opposed to the length of your fence panels – Having different length feather edged bays are more disguisable compared to cut fence panels.

Which fence is best for keeping animals out of my garden?

If you have a problem with foxes, rabbits or any other wildlife coming into your garden then there isn’t going to be necessarily a garden fence purpose built for these situations and so I would recommend adding fence add-ons such as fence spikes for those high jumpers or ground spikes for those animals that like to dig. Since foxes can do both why not have a look at my article on how to keep foxes out of your garden. Here I share everything on the market to keep these pests away from increasing the height of your fence to digging a trench and adding chicken wire to stop them from getting in!

What are the cheapest fence panels to buy?

If you are choosing your new garden fence based on budget as opposed to aesthetic reasons (after all, all garden fencing typically provides the same purpose) then the cheapest fence panels available on the market are the ones pictured above and are called lap panels. These can be picked up from as little as £20-25 per panel if you shop around and depending on what size fence panels you need.

If you want a fence panel that’s a little more durable and is more pleasing to the eye then the ones above are called close board fence panels which can be purchased from around the £45 mark depending on where you shop and at which quantity you buy.

Which decorative fence panels are available to buy?

If you need something that serves the same purpose as your standard lap panels or closeboard fence panels but want something that little more fancy then there is actually a wide variety of decorative fence panels available that ofcourse, come with a higher price tag. This being said, they do look fantastic! I’ll be adding pictures shortly but for now here is a list of some of the decorative fence panels available on the market today.

  • Slatted fence panel
  • Double slatted fence panel
  • Lattice top fence panel
  • Square horizontal fence panel
  • Horizontal lattice top fence panel
  • Hurdle fence panels
  • Full lattice fence panel
  • Tongue and groove fence panels
  • Arched fence panel
  • Arched lattice fence panel
  • V Arched fence panel
  • And many more…

My overall thoughts on how to choose the right fence for your garden

I’ve tried my best to focus this article more on the purpose of your fence instead of the way it looks just because, what’s the point on spending money on something that looks nice but isn’t fit for purpose. It would be like buying a sports car to go off-roading. Sure it will look nice – but it won’t last very long!

The most important thing to do when choosing the right fence for your garden is to assess the height of the neighbouring garden to see if concrete gravel boards and posts are a must, although if I’m being completely honest I would always recommend going for concrete instead of timber as concrete will always outlast wooden posts and gravel boards.

As well as the above, if your going for fence panels as opposed to a feather edge or closeboard fence then replacing fence panels in the future will be as easy as sliding the old ones out and sliding the new ones in! But since gravel boards keep the fence panels elevated from the ground it’s going to be many years before they show signs if rot and need replacing. Even the most decorative of fence panels can be used with concrete posts and gravel boards and I’ve even used concrete posts for installing picket fences just like the picture above!

Ultimately your garden fence is going to have a purpose to serve whether that be to give privacy, retain earth, to keep wildlife or intruders away or even just for any decorative purposes and it’s these reasons, at least in the first instance, that’s going to help you choose the right fence for you. Once you’ve decided on it’s purpose, it’s the going to be time to choose a fence type based on budget, looks or durability.

If your thinking about replacing or adding a fence to your garden but are unsure on what fence best suits your needs then why not comment below? I’d love to help!

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