Types of Wooden Fencing
Types of Wooden Fencing
Certain types of fencing are more robust than others when it comes to creating a long lasting, protective boundary. Wooden fences are not the best means of keeping out intruders, but they will deter the climbing burglar, or at least make it more difficult for him to get in and out, which may be enough to make him think again. The primary role of the wooden fence is to provide a degree of privacy and shelter in the garden.
These consist of aouter frame with an infill of thin slats. They are available in heights from 1.2m (4 ft) up to about 2m (6 ft 6 in) and come in three basic designs: horizontal lap, vertical lap and interwoven. They are erected between wooden or concrete posts, and vary a great deal in quality and strength. Each panel should rest on top of a concrete or wooden (preferably ) gravel board to prevent the panel from rotting. Trellis topping and/or defensive planting will be required to deter climbing. When constructing this type of fence with wooden posts, it is important to use galvanised metal brackets to fix the panels to the posts so that they cannot be lifted out or blown out by strong winds. If you are using concrete posts, secure each panel to its neighbour using a suitable metal strap, otherwise the panels could be lifted up and out of the slots in the posts.
HORIZONTAL-BOARD OR RANCH
This type of fence comprises posts and horizontal boards (rails). It is often quite low and generally used as a simple boundary marker to the front of a property. Because there are gaps between the boards, a high fence of this type can be scaled just like a ladder, so it is not suitable for security purposes.
This is a very common fence and one that is easy to construct. It comprises wooden posts set no farther apart than 3m (10 ft) with horizontal arris rails fixed between the posts. Vertical boards (often tapered in profile and known as feather-edge) are nailed to the rails. Two rails are used for a fence that is lower than about 1m (3 ft), and three for higher fences. A 2m (6 ft 6-in) fence built in this way, with the posts no more than 2.4m (8 ft) apart, will provide a reasonable level of security, provided it is topped with trellis. The arris rails should be on the ‘private’ side of the fence, otherwise they can be used for climbing. If the fence marks a boundary with public land, reduce the distance between the posts to 1.8m (6 ft). This also makes sense if the fence is exposed to strong winds. To prevent the vertical boards from rotting, include wooden (preferably hardwood) or concrete gravel boards at the base of the fence. Make sure that the gravel boards are well secured and the ground beneath them levelled. Otherwise, it might be possible to kick them out, allowing a burglar to crawl underneath.
You can increase the strength of a boarded fence by weaving steel straps between the boards as you nail them in place. You can also top the fence with trellis and prickly climbers, or cut the top of each board at a 45-degree angle to create a saw-tooth effect.
PALISADE AND STOCKADE
This is similar to the vertical close-boarded fence, but the boards are thicker and have gaps between them. This type of fence is often used where a back garden borders a canal or pathway, allowing the route to and from the garden to be observed. Passers-by will also be able to see into the garden, discouraging the would-be intruder, although many home owners may prefer the privacy provided by a solid fence. Because the boards of this type of fence do not overlap or fit tightly together, it may be easier for a burglar to pull them off. To make this more difficult, they should be secured to the arris rails withand washers, with the nuts on the inside of the fence. A fence bordering such a public area (which could be deserted at night) should stand 2m (6 ft 6 in) high and have three arris rails. It can be topped with trellis, or you can cut the tops of the boards to form points. Defensive prickly plants can be allowed to climb up this type of fence, and you can grow thorny shrubs around the bottom. This will help solve any privacy concerns.
A picket fence is similar to a palisade fence, but it is no more than 1.4m (4 ft 7 in) high. You can deter anyone from sitting on such a fence by giving each upright a pointed top. Picket fencing that is less than 1m (3 ft) high is often used as a simple boundary marker around an open-plan front lawn to keep animals and people off the grass. A picket fence that is about 1.2m (4 ft) high combined with thorny hedging can create quite a useful barrier. Check with the planning authority if you intend putting a small fence around an open-plan front lawn, as there may be a condition in the originalfor the house that prevents you from doing so.
Wattle fence panels consist of a frame of stout upright branches interwoven with horizontal thinner branches. They are available in a variety of heights, but normally are around 1.8m (6 ft) in width. As a rule, they are used as decorative fencing, although if suitably anchored between sturdy posts, they can be difficult to climb. This rather temporary fence is not suitable if you want security.
This is another temporary fence, which you will often see in public parks and gardens protecting areas of reseeded ground. It consists of chestnut stakes wired together and is about 1-1.2m (3-4 ft) high. It’s useful for protecting a newly planted hedge and can be left in place while it matures.
Trellis Fence Toppings
Topping a wooden fence with trellis can stop a burglar from climbing over. The strength of trellis used in this way lies in its weakness. This may sound daft, but that is precisely the way it works. A burglar knows that it may collapse if he attempts to climb over (risking injury), so he’s faced with the choice of trying to pull it down (difficult if it carries a thorny rose) or moving on to an alternative target. Most lightweight trellis will not take the weight of a person climbing over it. However, the heavyweight type, made from battens around 20 mm CA in) thick can be climbed, particularly if the trellis has been fixed to wooden fence posts or slotted into concrete posts. If you use the thicker type of trellis, you’ll have to fix it well enough so that it doesn’t fall down under the weight of a climbing plant, but will collapse if anyone steps on it.
Trellis can also be used to top brick walls. Firstvertical battens to the inner face of the wall, spacing them to match the width of the trellis panels. Then fix the panels to the battens with galvanised or corrosion-resistant .
Other Fence Toppings
If you want to improve your security in a more natural way, you could try training a thorny plant on wires along the top of the fence or wall. You’ll need to increase the height of the fence posts by about 300-400 mm (12-16 in), which can be done by screwing wooden battens or lengths of angle iron to the posts or wall. Then the wires can be stretched between them.
For a domestic setting, it is not recommended to use ‘aggressive’ toppings, such as broken glass, razor tape and barbed wire. These are designed to cause injury and have been known to harm innocent persons, which can lead to the householder being sued. In fact, some aggressive fence toppings are not too difficult to overcome. For example, barbed wire can be cut with a decent pair of wire cutters, while broken glass can be climbed over by laying a heavy coat over it. The horticultural approach – using trellis and thorny plants – can be just as effective and, equally important, can be far more aesthetically pleasing.
If you do employ injurious toppings on a fence or wall, such as barbed wire or razor tape, the Occupiers Liability Act requires you to provide prominent warning signs on or near the barrier to indicate the risk of injury if anyone attempts to climb it. Never use such toppings on a fence that is less than 2m (6 ft 6 in) high, and never hide anything unpleasant, such as carpet gripper, on the inside of a fence, as you could end up in court if someone is injured by it, even if he is a burglar. Under the Highways Act, if the fence borders a public highway, the council can order you to remove the topping if they consider it dangerous.
If a burglar can climb into a nearby garden from the street or an alleyway, it might be possible for him to scale a few of the divisional fences between neighbouring gardens and reach yours. You’ll obviously have to make your own judgement about this, since if your house is, say, five or six gardens along from the house where the initial access could be gained, you’re probably not at that much risk. To make it more difficult for a burglar to get into your garden from a neighbour’s, you can top the fence with trellis or grow thorny shrubs along the length of the fence. If you like to chat to your neighbours over the fence, you can install a trellis-and-panel fence. This will not only increase your security, but also allow more light into the garden to the benefit of your plants.
A TRELLIS-AND-PANEL FENCE
Start at the house end of the garden with a 1.8m (6-ft) high fencing panel, which will act as a privacy screen. Then continue the fence with 1.2m (4-ft) panels topped with 600 mm (2 ft) sections of lightweight trellis to give a total height of 1.8m (6 ft). This creates a ‘gossip fence’. If you don’t like the idea of looking at your neighbour’s washing line, you can gain more privacy by growing thorny shrubs through the trellis. The combination of the trellis and the shrubs gives you two layers of security – either the thorns will get the burglar or the fence will collapse with him on it, or preferably both! This type of fence is ideal for long, narrow gardens where a more traditional 1.8-m (6-ft) fence would be a little overbearing.
Read more about types of metal fencing