Fencing and screening buying guide
Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff120 guides
Whether used to mark a boundary, provide more privacy or just improve the look of your home, installing new fencing can be a great idea – that is, if you make the right choice! From mesh to wood, PVC to composite materials, there are plenty of options. Follow our guide to find the right fencing for your property!
- Flexible mesh
- Rigid mesh
- Traditional fences
Planning permission for fencing
Generally speaking, you probably won't need to get planning permission if you're thinking about installing a new fence.
Nonetheless, it is important to enquire about any rules as there are certain height restrictions (usually 2 metres), as well as certain rules for conservation areas and listed properties.
Types of garden fence
Planning permission - before making any decisions, find out about any planning restrictions relating to installing a new fence.
Material - it's up to you to choose a material based on your tastes and how much maintenance you're willing to carry out.
- Type - flexible or solid (flexible fences are easier to fit around the shape of your garden).
- Height - be sure to check whether you need planning permission before making your choice.
- Installation type and required tools - depending on the type of fencing you go for, you may need to bury your fence posts or buy a supporting surface for your mesh.
- Lifespan - varies depending on material and maintenance. Choose materials wisely to ensure your fence lasts.
- Application - setting apart land, providing more privacy, etc.
- Length - it may seem obvious but there's a lot of difference between installing a 20-foot fence and a 90-foot one, in terms of both aesthetic and installation method (which depends how much determination and ambition you have!).
- Budget - to calculate according to the full length of the fence plus all your tools and accessories!
- Design - based on any planning restrictions, budget, material and installation method.
Find the solution to all these points and you'll be properly prepared to choose the right fence for your space!
The size of the mesh is generally pretty small (50x50, 100x50mm, etc.) to prevent any animals from passing through.
The mesh can also be covered with additional screening or vegetation (hedges or shrubs) for more privacy.
Metal or wooden poles (preferably an exotic species) are embedded directly in the ground to serve as a support for the mesh, making installation relatively simple.
The wire mesh is held taut by tensioned metal cables and staples. However, flexible mesh is easy to cut (making you vulnerable to intruders), not very sturdy and is less attractive than other options.
Rigid mesh panels
Installing the posts for this mesh requires precision and attention to detail – whether they're embedded in the ground or fixed to a low wall – to ensure that the panels align properly.
Though tougher and more robust than flexible mesh, you will still be able to see through this type of fencing; if you want to reduce visibility, you will have to grow a hedge around it. Like any fence, hard mesh will keep animals out or in and is relatively easy to cut (and therefore doesn't provide protection from instrusion). While it is more complex to install the poles, this solution provides good value for money.
It's worth noting that, these days, you can choose from a range of panel and post colours.
Metal rail fencing
Whether installed straight into the ground or mounted on a low wall, this type of fence enhances your home and guarantees a long service life. It requires limited maintenance as the bars are given rust-proof protection that only needs to be topped up every ten years or so. Its construction boasts unparalleled strength. On the other hand, the cost can be high compared to other solutions.
Traditional board fences
If your fence is made of wood, it will require regular maintenance (staining or painting) though you'll avoid these tasks if you choose PVC or composite materials.
Between vertical or horizontal boards and traditional or modern designs, you'll have no trouble finding a model and colour to suit your tastes. Highly robust, this type of fence acts as an effective windbreak, and depending on its height, can also be effective against intrusions (especially if mounted on a low wall). On the other hand, installation requires care and experience and the cost will be higher than a mesh fence.
Solid fencing panels
An attractive option, these solid fences enhance the apperance of any surrounding land and provides good protection against animals and the wind. Installation is relatively simple (buried poles or fixed onto a low wall).
Depending on the height you choose, these fences offer a varying amount of protection against potential intruders. They also require regular maintenance (stain or varnish if made of wood). In general, this type of fence is best kept for enclosing smaller areas, such as terraces and pools.
Important factors for choosing your fencing
Of course, the design and colour of your fence will come purely down to taste. However, the technical specifications of your fence must be selected with care.
In order to choose the most appropriate type of fence for your garden, you must take various criteria into account.
Terrain type and surface areaIs your garden flat and even? Or is it rough and sloping? What kind of surface area are you hoping to fence in?
Proximity of neighboursDo you want protection from prying eyes or simply to mark off your property? Are you planning to plant a hedge or is there one already?
Role of the fenceThink about whether you want to add aesthetic value to your home or simply keep out animals and enclose your property.
There's nothing much to it: simply plant some leylandii or conifer and wait for it to grow for extra coverage.
Creates an immediate effect but ages rather badly. Screening comes in a variety of natural materials (reed, bamboo or even willow) to match its surroundings and your flowers. Synthetic materials are also available for those looking for a more modern feel.
Brushwood offers a more natural look due and provides some noise insulation.
Windscreen / privacy screening
This option isn't the best option aesthetically speaking but it does have the advantage of being highly effective!
Whatever option you choose, be aware that screening does not provide any protection against intrusions. In terms of longevity, natural hedging is the best option (even though you usually have to wait for it to grow).
Reed screening tends to stain and break down over time, so it's better to go for brushwood if you don't want to start over every year – especially if you live in a particularly windy area. If you want to improve the security of your property, install an alarm.
Final tips for choosing your fencing
You don't want to be changing your fence every two years, so take the time to consider all the different options carefully.
Feel free to do a 'test-run' over a small length to see how it looks.
Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff 120 guides écrits
I'm a trained electrician who started off working in large-scale industrial projects. Most of my early career was spent taking on huge electrical installations. I like to think that no job is too big for me, and after all the experience I'd gained, I started managing teams of electricians.
I like to learn on the job, so around ten years ago, I moved into building and construction. As a site manager, I've overseen the building of small residences, sport facilities, and even theatres!
Working with my hands is something I love to do in my free time as well. For four years now, I've been restoring our home in the Welsh countryside. I even built a conservatory for my wife, who loves watching the sheep behind our house.
Whether it's patios, interior design, roofing, plumbing or electricity - I love giving it all a go! I've even made my family DIY converts and together we've built almost everything we have from scratch. My experience, both in the field and in my workshop, has taught me a lot and I'm happy to share what I've learned. No matter how big or small your project is, I'm here to answer your questions and help you choose the right tools and equipment.
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