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  • They are probably the quickest and easiest way of reminding people where their responsibilities end – and yours start.
  • They come in all shapes and sizes to suit every taste and purse.
  • The materials are easily obtainable from a variety of retail outlets.
  • They take considerably less time and skill to erect than a wall.
  • They can have things grown against them to soften and disguise them.


  • They tend to look rather utilitarian and a lot of them used in a built-up suburban area give a ‘boxy’ feel, especially where the fences are solid.
  • They require a certain amount of after-care — treating with a wood preservative, painting, replacing rotted or rusted parts, etc., where appropriate.
  • It is highly likely that most gardens will contain some form of fence or other. There are so many different types that a whole book could be devoted to fences alone, so this is just a quick round-up of what is available, with a few hints on uses and erection.

Open fences

Post and wire. These are used mainly to indicate legal boundaries of plot. They can have plants trained against the wire if convenient to the person owning the adjoining plot. They are useless for excluding children and small animals from gardens. They consist of 6 ft (2 m) long 3 in. (75 mm) diameter or square wooden or concrete posts, driven firmly into the ground for 2 ft (600 mm) at 10 ft (3 m)intervals. Heavy-gauge wire is then run between the posts, the first one at 9 in. (225 mm) from the ground, and then at 1 ft (300 mm) intervals to the top. Every tenth post should be a straining post. The wire should be attached firmly at one end and tightened by means of a wire strainer. Barbed wire is sometimes used instead of ordinary wire but is a nasty dangerous material not to be recommended.

Wire netting, chain link. These are used to protect the garden from intruders, children and domestic animals. Climbing plants can be grown up them to disguise them. They consist of posts inserted into the ground as before and wire netting or chain link stapled or wired to them. Galvanized wire netting has a limited life and tends to get bent or trodden down. Chain link is more costly but lasts longer and can be obtained with a green plastic coating which makes it unobtrusive. Straining wires should be used top, bottom and at intervals in between to keep the wire netting or chain link rigid. Chain link fencing can be of any height and is often used around play areas and as stop netting for tennis courts.

Some manufacturers now make all-plastic link or netting fencing which is used in the same way.

Galvanized wire netting can be buried 9 in. (225 mm) deep to give protection from rabbits which will burrow under a normal fence.

Post and rail. These have a similar function to post and wire but are more aesthetic and substantial, though considerably more costly. They consist of 3 ft (1 m) wooden posts driven into the ground as before with flat rails attached to them at intervals. It requires a certain amount of elementary carpentry skill to get a really professional finish. The upright posts need to be about 6 ft (2 m) apart. Some woodyards and DIY timber merchants sell post and rail kits cut to the correct sizes and lengths for immediate erection.

Post and trellis. These are rather fragile types offence similar to post and netting but using 6 ft (2 m) wide square trellis panels, strengthened with thicker timber top and bottom, instead of chain link or netting. They look very attractive but they are not strong, although useful for growing climbing plants up.

Posts and chains. These are used generally to keep vehicles off certain areas or as decorative front garden fences. They consist of 3 ft (1 m) wood, concrete or plastic posts set firmly into the ground, in concrete if necessary, with plastic or metal chain hung between them, attached firmly to ‘eyes’ in the top of the posts.

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