Solid fences are used to provide total privacy, hide an eyesore or shelter a very exposed plot. They can cast shade in the same way as a wall, so height should be chosen carefully.
Solid fences are usually of three types – overlap, when thin pieces of timber are attached to battens for strength; interwoven, which has similar thin strips woven in and out of vertical battens; and close-boarded, which is vertical wooden boards nailed to rigid substantial cross-pieces. Interwoven fencing is the cheapest and least substantial, while close-boarded is very expensive, but, properly maintained, will last a lifetime.
These forms of fencing vary considerably in price and quality according to manufacturer and it pays to shop around. They are usually made in 6 ft or 2 metre widths and up to 6 ft (2 m) in height in 12 in. (300 mm) stages from 2 or 3 ft (600 or 900 mm) minimum height. They are usually supported by substantial wooden or concrete posts sunk well into the ground, or brick pillars. Concrete posts can be set in concrete but research has shown that wooden ones rot less quickly if they are just rammed firmly into the earth. Metal post-supports are now available — these are driven into the ground first and the posts set into them afterwards. Later models have adjusting devices to compensate for not getting the socket absolutely vertical, which would prevent the post, and therefore the panel attached to it, being upright. These gadgets can be quite handy, but add greatly to the cost of the fence. A similar metal socket is available for replacing a rotted wooden post in a concrete base.
The solid appearance of this type of fence can be considerably reduced if the top foot or two is replaced by open square trellis panels. These are usually sold by fencing manufacturers as well as the solid panels, or can be made to order.
Remember that you can get down-draughts from close-boarded fences like those from walls, so any floppy plants near the base should be given adequate support.
An interesting variation on this theme is a brick wall with close-boarded panels built in along the length of it. This reduces the cost of materials, i.e. the bricks, and also introduces a different texture, breaking up the length of brickwork.
Iron fences and railings. These are becoming popular again with traditionalists. They are, however, expensive and require regular maintenance to prevent rusting.