A quality fence bestows a multitude of benefits to your garden — providing privacy, allowing themed spaces, as well as lending a neat, natural aesthetic touch.
Design-led fencing projects can repay themselves many times over by adding value to your property and garden. So, how do you go about realising the fence of your dreams?
The first place to start — choosing a suitable timber species.
What is the best wood for fencing in the UK?
So, what timber is used for fencing? The climate in Britain throws a fair few challenges the way of our garden fences, so the best timbers for fencing are those with plenty of natural durability — water, insect and fungal resistance.
Take a look at some of these species — we’ve included a mix of timeless, versatile and time-honoured species, as well as some more unusual, eye catching and on-trend fencing woods. Bear in mind that this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list!
1. Western Red Cedar
With its warm, on-trend good looks, resistance to warping and shrinking and naturally-occuring insect-repellent oils, cedar should be right at the top of your list of fencing timber contenders.
Beautiful, durable and with astonishing longevity, we’d challenge you to find a property where Western Red Cedar’s alluring red, pink and brown tones aren’t right at home!
The resins contained within the wood give it natural resistance to the most adverse of weather conditions and fungal threats.
These incredible benefits do come at a slight premium, though — be prepared to pay a moderately higher margin for your Western Red Cedar fencing than you might for another timber species, like Siberian Larch.
What you may part with in terms of cash, however, you’ll save in time — a sturdy Western Red Cedar fence requires very little maintenance. Cedar also smells fantastic, which can’t be a drawback on those relaxing summer days in the garden, can it?
2. Siberian Larch
Native to the harsh, sub-zero climate of Siberia, it should come as no surprise that larch is a very sturdy, naturally durable species with excellent weatherproof qualities — perfect for fencing. Those gorgeous golden brown hues are just a bonus!
In recent times, Siberian Larch has become a very popular species for exterior projects, fencing included. Compared to Western Red Cedar and hardwood fences, it’s your cost effective alternative, yet still has great durability characteristics.
Therefore, if you’re running a tighter budget but still after a quality fencing solution, Siberian Larch is a solid choice. It comes in two grades: unsorted and sawfalling. The latter has more knots, and therefore an even lower price.
Similar to Western Red Cedar, Siberian Larch requires very little maintenance once installed. It can be left unfinished to achieve a traditional silver finish, or given a lick of UV preservative to extend its natural golden appearance.
3. Iroko (and other exotic hardwoods)
Looking to make a designer statement? Tropical timbers like Iroko and Sapele are the ticket to a beautiful, top-of-the-range fence that’s built to last.
These hardwoods are incredibly dense, hard and durable. High in natural oils, species like Iroko boast impeccable resistance to rot and decay and share many characteristics of Teak.
As a result of their clean, aesthetically-striking appearance, the popularity of exotic hardwoods has surged amongst architecturally-minded home improvers.
This does come at a premium though; expect to be paying a higher price for hardwood fencing components. This may make it uneconomical for many projects, but nevertheless a species that shouldn’t be discounted if you’re designing a special garden space.
Tropical hardwood fences can be treated with oil to guard against UV rays. This also gives the timber a rich glow, allowing the grain of the timber to ‘pop’.
A fairly new kid on the fencing block, LIGNIA® is growing rapidly in popularity for its beauty, environmental credentials and mind-blowing durability.
The secret behind its suitability for standing up to the outdoor elements? Starting its life as Radiata Pine, LIGNIA® is sustainably treated and modified by first being impregnated with resin, then dried and cured under high temperature and pressure.
The result: a wood with a gorgeous ‘tropical’ hardwood appeal, yet extremely durable and sturdy — ideal for fencing.
LIGNIA® puts its money where its mouth is. This cutting-edge product has a 50-year warranty against rot and fungal decay for above-ground applications.
If you’re looking for ‘wood made for life’ — here, you’ve got it.
What types and styles of timber fencing are there?
Whether horizontal or vertical, fencing can come in a variety of types. Your choice will depend on the level of privacy you’re looking for, as well as your desired aesthetic.
For a high level of boundary marking, a solid traditional style like featherboard (or close-board) could be the most appropriate; there are also more modern profile options using tongue & groove boarding with either a V detail or a shadow groove.
A particularly hot choice for 2021 and beyond is slatted fencing, sometimes known as Venetian fencing. This semi-solid style provides a sleek, contemporary solution with a nod to the continent.
Offering a good deal of privacy, the most popular size is 45mm-wide sections with 10mm gaps between the pieces. Wider sections, available in 70mm or 95mm, are also popular.
How high can I build my timber fence?
In the UK, there’s no nationwide policy; instead, fence height restrictions are set at a local authority level. However, you will usually need to obtain planning permission if you’re erecting a fence that is over 2 metres (6 ft 6 ¾ inches).
Fencing installation tips and tricks
If you’ve settled on a species and a style, next up is installation. There’s always the option to leave it to a professional, but we’re sure a few tips from the trade won’t go amiss if you’re thinking of embarking on a DIY fencing installation.
Measure up & planning
- Measure the length of your garden to decide how many posts and panels you’ll need.
- Posts come in a variety of heights. There’s also the option to choose concrete posts.
- There are a variety of methods for securing the posts. This can include post ‘shoes’, cement or post spikes.
- Ensure your posts are treated to prevent rotting (in particular, the part that will be in the ground). Soak the ends of the posts with a wood preservative before planting them; ensure they’re given around 24 hours. A bucket may prove useful for this!
- When planting your posts, you need around 2ft of the post in the ground; It’s best to mark this out on the post before planting. To each side of the post, there should be a width three times the space of the post.
- It may be helpful to use 6ft markers between each post.
- You may want to place a few inches of gravel in the post holes; this allows water to drain away — preventing the posts from rotting
- Make sure the posts are level across both sides; wooden stakes are useful here.
The finishing touches
- A gravel board is useful for preventing the fencing from touching the floor, fighting against rot.
- Use stainless steel or galvanised screws or nails. They’re more resistant to rust.
- Always have a spirit level on hand to check your fencing is level once they have been installed.
- You might want to top off your fencing posts with some caps — but make sure they’re pre-drilled to prevent end splitting.
How long does a timber fence last for?
So, you’ve chosen your species and style and you’ve got your fence installed. Naturally, you might now be wondering what sort of lifespan you can expect from it.
Well, you won’t be surprised to learn that this depends on a few factors: the species of wood you use, as well as the pre-installation and follow-up treatment. There’s no reason why a well-constructed, properly-maintained fencing project can’t last for decades.
Regularly-weather protected cedar, for example, can have a lifespan of over 40 years. New fencing products like LIGNIA® have a 50-year warranty against fungal decay and rot — giving you an idea of the estimated lifespan of a quality fence!
This brings us on to the next part of our guide — treatment, maintenance and care for your fence.
Fencing treatment and maintenance
The species listed earlier are highly durable, so don’t strictly need any treatment. However, to maximise the longevity of your newly-installed fence, you might want to give it some initial weather treatment, as well as occasional maintenance.
The biggest rot threat is to the posts. Therefore, make sure you use a robust timber species or pressure-treated timber for your posts (if you’re not using concrete posts). Also, as we mentioned earlier, treat them before planting by soaking them in a good preservative for around 24 hours.
A coat of preservative, stain or paint on the panels will provide protection from the elements, with each providing different aesthetic changes. An oil with UV filters and inhibitors will slow down the bleaching effect of the sun, avoiding the silvery-grey aesthetic, if undesired.
We’ve actually written a guide to fencing treatments, which provides a full rundown of the different preservatives, oils and paints — as well as tips for restoring a battered garden fence.
How much does a timber fence cost?
The cost of a wood fence will, unsurprisingly, depend largely on the size of your project, as well as the timber you use for it.
For an idea of pricing, at the cheaper end of the spectrum is Siberian Larch, working through to species like Western Red Cedar and Iroko — although it’s worth bearing in mind that prices can fluctuate over time.
- Siberian Larch — prices start from £1.35 + VAT per linear metre.
- Western Red Cedar — from £2.10 + VAT per linear metre.
- Iroko — from £3.10 + VAT per linear metre.
- LIGNIA® — from £3.10 + VAT per linear metre.
Different piece dimensions can command higher prices. Also, don’t forget the minor costs relating to supplies needed to maintain your fence — preservatives, masking sheets, brushes and the like.
Although tempting, we’d recommend that you overlook the cheap fencing solutions often stocked by home improvement stores in the UK, which are usually of unsuitable durability and quality for outdoor use. When it comes to fencing — or, indeed, any timber project — it’s always worth bearing in mind the old adage ‘buy cheap, buy twice’!
Choosing a solid, hard-wearing and naturally weatherproofed timber will save you time, hassle and money in the long run, considering the biological and meteorological threats that our garden fences face.
For a more specific idea of costs and prices for your next fencing project, our team would be delighted to help — simply get in touch.
Thinking of starting your fencing project?
We’re ready when you are.
As a leading UK supplier of slatted screen fencing in a number of beautiful, versatile and highly durable species, we know what it takes to create a quality fence that’s the envy of your neighbours.
Duffield Timber: excellence from forest to finish.