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Garden fencing: what you need to know

Fencing is the unsung hero of many gardens, marking your boundaries and setting off your plants. We talked to Which? Trusted trader, Nigel Hammond of Barn Owl Installations, to find out about how to get help with your fencing.
Fencing with trees in front

What sorts of fence panels are available?

The most commonly used is a standard waney edge panel. These offer the best value for money at around £27 per panel. They are made of horizontal strips of wood.

Closed feather-edge panels cost about £34 per panel and provide a very strong form of fencing best used with concrete post. The strips of wood are vertical.

There is also a range of decorative fence panels that start from about £36 and are ideal if you want a real showstopper fence, such as one with curved trellis at the top.

Find a Which? Trusted Traders endorsed gardener or landscaper to help with your fencing needs. Read on for more information about fencing.

What is the longest-lasting type of fencing? 

Nigel recommends a feathered fence with 4 x 4-inch wooden post. This type of fence is made by nailing vertical wooden boards to a framework and takes longer to put up than a ready-made panel. A long-lasting alternative would be closed feather-edge panels with concrete posts. 

Do gravel boards help a fence last longer? 

Gravel boards are a protective barrier between the ground and your fence. Normally used with a feathered fence, they ensure the individual feathers are off the ground, thus helping to prevent rot as the boards aren’t in contact with the damp earth.

If you are installing a waney edge panel, you don’t need a gravel board as long as there’s a small gap between the ground and the panel. Concrete gravel boards are more expensive but should last longer than wooden ones.

What is the best way to fix fence posts? 

If you are installing fence posts then the deeper they are the better. If your panels are 6ft high then the posts should be 2ft underground and secured with concrete. It's important to surround the wooden posts with concrete to ensure they are not in contact with the wet soil. If possible also put some stones or a small brick under the bottom of the post. 

It's also a good idea to ensure the concrete at the surface has been smoothed to ensure water does not pool around the post at ground level. 

Should a fence be treated with preservatives?

The fence should already be tanalised – this is a treatment carried out by placing the timber in a big tank where a preservative is forced into the wood under pressure. I don't normally recommend extra treatment as it can stop the wood from breathing. If you are going to treat your fence then ensure the material used is oil based. 

Find out how to hire a landscape designer or read on for more advice about fencing.

Can storm damaged fence panels be repaired? 

Yes they can, but often it is better to simply replace them as a repaired fence panel can look unsightly. 

How long does it take to put up a fence panel?

This really depends on the ground conditions; most of the time is taken up digging the holes for the posts. If the ground is easy to dig then two people should be able to put up eight panels in an eight-hour day, but fewer if the ground is harder to dig. 

How much does it cost to put up a fence? 

Nigel charges £320/day for two guys working eight hours but costs will vary between traders and around the UK.

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