5 things to consider before building a garden fence

June 30, 2015

In addition to defining a boundary, a fence can buffer wind and provide support for climbing plants. Because a fence is permanent, you'll want to choose materials and a style that harmonize with your garden and house. Here are five things to consider before getting started.

5 things to consider before building a garden fence

1. Work with a helper

  • Erecting a fence takes two people.

It's not that fence panels are particularly heavy, but they have to be held upright while they're fixed in place, and one of you needs to keep checking the level.

Choose a calm day to work, since solid panels are difficult to handle in the wind.

2. The right look

  • Informal gardens are the right settings for rustic styles, such as a post-and-rail, picket or split-rail fence.
  • Formal gardens look better with board, post-and-board or iron fences.

3. A handmade border

Make a low waffle fence to separate different beds in your landscape, or make a higher version as a privacy panel.

  • Insert sturdy wood stakes every 15 to 30 centimetres and interlace the uprights with pliable vines or willow stems to create a lattice.
  • The result is a charming, handmade fence.

4. Sloping ground?

  • A fence that follows the terrain will complement a naturalistic garden.
  • Fencing in a stepped style creates a more formal look. If you decide on a stepped-style fence, you'll need to level the grade between posts and fill in the open spaces between the bottom rails and the ground.

5. Go for quality

A fence is a long-term investment.

  • Select durable, rot-resistant wood that will weather the elements, especially for the posts. Wise choices include cypress, red or white cedar, redwood or pressure-treated pine.
  • For other components, you can use a less durable wood, such as spruce, hemlock or fir.
  • You can buy ready-made fencing panels, but beware of using thin panels that are likely to blow over in the first gust of wind.
  • In addition to wood, vinyl fence panels that look like wood are widely available.
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