Fencing: Making Fences
Fencing has an important role to play in the garden where it can be used to provide shelter from strong winds, privacy from neighbours and a means of dividing off or partitioning parts of the garden. Quite often, a suitably selected fence can add considerable character and interest in a garden and it is one possible solution to the problem of concealing an ugly view.
There are several different designs or patterns available and the choice of timber usually lies between cedar, pine or larch, and other materials are concrete and plastic. The type of pattern will have a bearing on the amount of protection or privacy afforded. For example, a solid or close-boarded fence with adequate overlaps will provide much more privacy than the more open interwoven design. Some fences have a special ‘peep-proof finish where extra intermediate battens are supplied which, when nailed to the overlap timber, prevents them opening up eventually. Adequate overlap of the timber used in the fill-in part of the fence also ensures privacy and very good protection from winds.
Fence height is a matter for personal decision. For complete privacy and shelter, the highest fence should be selected and this will usually be about 6 ft. The general range of heights is 6 ft., 5-1/2 ft., 5 ft., 4-1/2 ft., 4 ft., 3-1/2 ft. Sections are usually 6 ft. wide.
A fence is only as strong as its supports and the way in which they are inserted in the ground. They should, in most cases, be about 3 ft. taller than the fence if the fence is 6 ft. high. For lower fences the posts can be about 2 ft. taller. The posts must be inserted from about 2 to 3 ft. in the ground, allowing for the posts to extend about 3-4 in. above the top rail of the fence panel to accommodate the post cap.
The erection of a fence should start by placing a garden line along the site. Several posts should be laid down on the ground, close to this line, spacing them apart according to the width of the fence panels. The holes can then be excavated for the posts. Treat the bottom of each post with preservative to a position above soil level.
Place the first post in position and retain it in place with a few bricks etc. The exact position for the next post is now determined by fastening a fence panel to this first post. The next post can be placed in the hole and the panel fixed to this. Work proceeds in this way until the fence has been erected. When several posts are in place, they can be cemented in. Take the precaution of fixing a temporary stay or support to each posrto prevent movement while the cement is setting.
Concrete posts will ensure a rot-proof fence erection and, in many cases, these can be ordered specially. Some firms can supply concrete spurs or stub-posts which are cemented in the hole first and then a length of wooden fence post is bolted onto this. The stub-posts stand above ground level and the base of the wooden post which is attached to it is kept off the soil.
Fence designs or patterns vary considerably and selection should be in accordance with the general ‘atmosphere’ of the garden. The wavy pattern is very attractive and is particularly useful around a paved area where it will form a screen for seclusion. Interwoven fencing produces a pleasant design and combined with a trellis top as illustrated, a fence to suit most garden layouts can be had.
Close-boarded or solid fence panels are very strong, rugged units and ideal for exposed gardens, in particular. They are quite heavy and very secure erection is essential.
Lighter types of fencing include the open rail fence or the ranch type. These are useful for front garden boundaries or for enclosures round a terrace or even a swimming pool to give a measure of safety where there are children. The latest innovation is the plastic fencing material which consists of hollow or box-like planking and hollow posts. Caps, end pieces and plank joining pieces are also available. Ranch type fences are made up with all these units.
Concrete fence units or panels can be used and these are available as individual sections which drop into place in specially slotted supporting posts, or a brick-faced outline panel can be erected, which is also supported at regular intervals by special posts.
Concrete fences and walling have changed considerably in appearance recently and some very intriguing designs are now available. Some have a raised stone walling relief pattern which is very realistic and gives the appearance of a hand-built stone wall. Heights available are from about 2-1/2- ft. to about 6-1/2 ft. The panels are usually supplied in about 3 ft. to 6 ft. bays with suitable slotted concrete posts into which these panels are inserted.
There is a lot to be said for having a little consideration for one’s neighbours and it is useful to know that there is one type of self-assemble concrete fencing or walling which has both sides equally attractive. The panels are finished in a warm coloured aggregate which provides a pleasant textured effect. One face of the supporting concrete posts also has this finish.
Sometimes a fence or boundary does not need to be ‘solid’. This can apply particularly where the garden is being divided or partitioned off. It is also an idea to use an open fence where one does not want to blot out a neighbour’s garden completely or where it might result in a great deal of light loss to a neighbour if one did erect a solid or filled-in fence design.
In these instances the trellis panels really come into their own. They can be either purchased as ready made units or can easily be made up at home. The timber used is about 1-3/8 by 3/16 in. and is nailed together to form trellis gaps of about 4-1/2 in. square. The thin laths are attached to a main framing of 1-1/2 x 1 in. timber, with, if necessary, an intermediate piece of the same thickness about half-way along the panel, running vertically.
Attached to main posts the trellis makes a very attractive feature in the garden and if covered with climbing plants, can be quite colourful too. The panels can be used to enclose a terrace feature and are particularly useful as a screen between the ornamental garden and the vegetable garden.
A type of fence which is worth considering also is the extremely simple palisade design. This consists of a series of short upright lengths of timber which are pointed at their top end. The timber is about 4-6 in. wide and heights are from about 3 – 4-1/2 ft. The series of pales are attached to two horizontal bars of substantial timber (about 1-in thick and 4-in. wide). Suitable short supporting posts link these together.
During construction it is very important to ensure that the pales are fixed level (vertical level), and a spacing block can be used between each as they are nailed in place. A gap between individual pales of about 6 in. is generally adequate. During all construction work it is essential that all timber is treated thoroughly with a suitable horticultural grade of preservative (copper naphthenate). Pay particular attention to all sawn edges and where posts are inserted in the soil. Galvanizedmust be used if rust effects are to be avoided.