Fences, gates and garden walls
Planning and specifying a fence
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There are many factors to consider when planning and specifying a fence for any sector or application – whether a garden, driveway or security fence.
The most important aspect of installing a fence is making sure it will stand the test of time and not fall over, causing damage and leaving a property or premises exposed, nor have to be replaced within a short number of years. The quality of materials, including the fixings, is integral to any fence. For timber fencing, the timber should be carefully selected, kiln-dried and pressure-treated, and secured with stainless steel nails or screws to prevent rust. Steel fencing should be galvanised or Galfan® zinc alloy coated to protect it from rust and corrosion, and have galvanised or stainless steel, tamper-proof fixings. Both timber and steel fencing should also come with a long guarantee 1– 25 years is optimal.
If you have satisfied the requirements above, this is a major step to making sure that a fence will not become unsecure within a short period of time. A high-quality fence with a long guarantee reduces the cost of repairs and replacements over time. It also means it is more environmentally friendly with less waste going into landfill and fewer trees being cut down, so this helps to reduce carbon emissions. Again, fixings and the type of posts used are important. For garden fencing2, steel posts with pre-drilled holes or slotted timber posts enable fence panels to be securely fixed, which not only stops rattling sounds, but prevents them from being lifted to gain unauthorised access. For steel fences, fixings should be on the secure side of the fence and have a tamper-proof design to stop them from being unscrewed. Similarly, timber fence rails should be installed on the inside of a garden, to stop them from being used as climbing aids, or opt for a fence which does not have rails, which will also provide the benefit of looking good on both sides.
The correct style of fence is fundamental to ensure fitness for purpose. For example – is the installation by a busy road, with a need to reduce noise? Timber acoustic fencing and barriers3 are ideal for these purposes, giving the appearance of a more robust garden fence and reducing noise by up to 28dB. If privacy and security are equally important, a metal mesh fence with timber slats could be opted for. Privacy and aesthetics may also be important, so a contemporary, ‘good both sides’ fence design would be ideal. The assets you want to protect also need consideration, whether it’s pets, people, or property. When looking for fencing for areas in which children will be present, it needs to have a safe design and should feature anti-trap properties. The location of your property will also have an impact – for example, in areas with strong winds, semi-solid fence panels are beneficial in creating a long-lasting fence, as wind is able to filter through and put less strain on the posts. Similarly, steel fencing should have a marine coating to protect it in high salinity environments, within 500m of the coast.
It’s important to think of the impact the fence will have on wildlife, particularly hedgehogs. With hedgehog numbers in decline, any measures we can implement to help them can have a positive impact. Hedgehog-friendly timber gravel boards4 have a specially designed doorway for hedgehogs to be able to travel between gardens in search of food and mates, which is essential for their survival. When installing steel fencing5, there are some types which are more hedgehog-friendly than others. Vertical bar railings, with pale spacing which conforms to anti-trap building regulations, provides ample room for hedgehogs to pass through the fence, while welded mesh panels and chain link can pose a threat: hedgehogs can get stuck.
Make use of the manufacturer’s Q40 documents, drawings, and specification sheets to ensure the right specification is included, for example the height, type of posts, materials and treatment, and the length of guarantee. Some suppliers have fence calculators, comparison tools, and configuration tools on their websites to help you calculate and choose the best product to suit your garden or application.