Are you considering installing a fence around your garden? Wooden fence panels are cheap and easy to construct. They can also look a lot nicer and less dominant than a brick wall. With the correct tools and equipment, erecting a fence can be a relatively simple task.
A property with a square or rectangle garden tends to have one length of front-facing fences and one length of back facing fences. The side that is front-facing is usually your responsibility. Most of the time, it's the fence to the left, but this is just an agreement, not the law. If you're not sure, you can ask a neighbour. You can also check the property information from HM Land Registry. There's a small fee for each copy of title register or title plan you request.
The most common type of garden fence consists of 10cm wide concrete fence posts supporting 6ft wide wooden fence panels. These are the most convenient fence type. The concrete posts are extremely robust and weather resistant. The wooden fence panels are also easy to maintain and replace if needed.
How to Erect a Garden Fence Step-By-Step
1. Clear the Area
Preparation is key to erecting a solid, long-lasting fence. Make sure you notify your neighbours before starting the work. They might even lend a hand!
First, clear any old fencing. Depending on the age of it, fencing can be quite easy to dismantle. Next, get rid of any brush and ivy. Move any plants and furniture that are in the way. You should also find out if there are any underground cables and pipes which lie in the way, and mark these out. Finally, flatten and even out the ground.
2. Mark Out
Measure and mark out the perimeter of your fence using stakes and string. Use a level to ensure that the perimeter lines you have marked out are straight. You know that the fence panels are 1.83m (6ft) wide, and the posts are 10cm wide. You can work out exactly where each fence post will go and mark them out along the perimeter using stakes.
3. Bore the Fence Post Holes
The corner fence posts should be erected first. You can use either a manual post hole digger for smaller jobs. A one man post hole borer might be better for longer runs to speed up the job and make things much easier for yourself. You can use both the manual and powered borers with each other. Dig the hole quickly and efficiently with a powered auger, then use the manual borer to tidy up the hole. This gives you a straight, precise finish. A six-foot fence will need a hole at least 600mm deep. If it's less than that, the fence won't stay upright in strong winds or if you bump into it.
If some old fence posts or concrete bases are still in place, you need to remove them. You might be able to pull them out by hand. But, if you need equipment, you can use a fence post puller. If you need to loosen any concrete to pull it out, use a concrete breaker.
4. Erect the Fence Posts
The general rule is that a third of the length of the fence post should be buried to ensure maximum strength and rigidity. The hole should be about 4 inches wider than the post. Insert the post into the hole, making sure it is facing the right way. Hammer the post down with a sledgehammer or a manual post driver. Applying this force helps the fence post sit firmly and securely in the post hole.
Make sure the post is straight with a level and prop it in place. Use some wood to wedge it, or fill the hole with a layer of gravel. Fill the rest of the hole with fresh concrete or quick-setting postcrete. Postcrete is available from builders merchants, or you can use a cement mixer to make some cement yourself. The concrete should be filled to just above ground level, and smoothed off with a trowel.
The concrete should be left to set for about four hours. Once the first post is set, install the final post in the run. When that's set, tie string between the two posts. Tie one about 300mm from the ground, and one near the top of the posts. The string will give you a good guide when installing all the in between posts, so that they're the same depth and height.
Put a gravel board in place, and mark where it ends. Gravel boards will be the same length as the fence panels, so they're a great guide for your spacing. Dig another hole for the next post in the run, put the gravel board back in place, and install the post like you did earlier. Use a level to make sure the gravel board is straight and prop it with some bricks or blocks. You need to be accurate, or the fence panels won't fit or sit properly.
Repeat these steps until you have installed all the fence posts. You might need to cut the final gravel board down. Measure the inside of the fence posts and mark the gravel board with your takings. You can cut the board using an angle grinder, and resting on a flat, stable surface.
5. Install the Fencing Panels
Once you've erected all the posts, the majority of the hard work is done. The advantage of wooden fence panels is that they can simply slide into place between the fence posts. They're easy to install and replace. the gravel board creates a gap between the ground and the bottom of the panel. A space reduces the risk of the panels rotting. You can use soil or gravel to cover any gaps at the base of the gravel board. This is a great space to plant some flowers.
6. Add a Finish
Apply a few layers of paint to the wooden panels to give them an extra special finish and to protect them from rot and weather damage. You should paint the fence panels every few years to maintain their appearance and durability over the years!