A quality fence bestows a multitude of benefits to your garden — privacy, theming and a beautiful, natural look.
As well as adding to the enjoyment of outdoor space, a beautiful timber boundary can repay themselves many times over by adding value to your property. Or, put it this way: a poor fence immediately downgrades any space!
So, looking to discover the fence of your dreams? Let’s break down every step of your fencing project: the best types of wood to use, the most popular styles, pricing up as well as installation, maintenance and ongoing care tips.
The best types of wood for fencing
From the time-honoured, versatile reddish-brown hues of Western Red Cedar to the exotic, luxury and on-trend golden-brown tones of Iroko, there are a number of beautiful and durable types of timber species for a garden fence.
Britain’s climate throws a fair few challenges the way of our fences, so the best timbers for fencing are those with plenty of natural durability against natural forces of decay — water, insect and fungal resistance. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but you can’t go wrong with any of the woods mentioned below!
1. Western Red Cedar— for gorgeous pinkish-brown beauty & top-drawer durability
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?
Western Red Cedar 18 x 45mm slatted fencing.
2. Siberian Larch— for a classic golden yellow colour with exceptional exterior durability
Native to the sub-zero climate of Siberia, it should come as no surprise to learn that Larch is a very sturdy, stable species with great resistance to decay — perfect for fencing. Those gorgeous pale-yellow-to-golden-brown hues are just a bonus!
Siberian Larch is up there with Western Red Cedar as one of the most popular, go-to choices for home improvers looking to create a beautiful, design-led boundary for their property. Larch also typically comes in at a slightly cheaper price point.
Therefore, if you’re running a tighter budget but still after a quality fencing solution, you can’t go wrong with Siberian Larch. 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 prolong its natural golden appearance.
A garden gate and fencing in Siberian Larch.
P.S. Recent trade restrictions with Russia mean that stocks of Siberian Larch are not quite as reliable as they once were! If you’re looking for a similar-looking wood, be sure to check out our blog post about Siberian Larch alternatives — or keep on reading (we’d recommend Alaskan Yellow Cedar for some similarly-beautiful golden yellow hues)!
3. Iroko (and other exotic hardwoods) — for exotic, high performance hardwood fence
Looking to make a designer statement? African hardwoods like Iroko are the ticket to a beautiful, top-of-the-range fence that’s built to last.
Also known as ‘African teak’ — so called because of its sought-after appearance and Rolls-Royce exterior performance — Iroko is incredibly stable, durable and scratch resistant. Perfect in almost every way for a fence intended for a special outdoor space.
Its clean golden brown colour tends to slowly darken over time, making this exotic hardwood an increasingly popular choice amongst architecturally-minded home improvers.
Iroko comes in at the pricier end of the spectrum, so expect to be paying a higher price for hardwood fencing components. We’d say the species certainly repays itself many times over by providing your property with a classy, high-performance, exotic-looking boundary.
Tropical hardwood fences like Iroko and Sapele can be treated with oil to guard against the bleaching effect of moisture and UV. This also gives the timber a rich glow, allowing the grain of the timber to ‘pop’.
4. Alaskan Yellow Cedar— for a highly durable, pale and easy-to-finish species
Exceptionally resistant to moisture, decay and fungus, Alaskan Yellow Cedar shares all the excellent outdoor durability of its Western Red cousin — but at a cheaper cost. The species boasts a versatile pale yellow colour, excellent for creating an airy, lighter-themed outdoor space.
Alaskan Yellow Cedar also finishes exceptionally well. You can apply a well-chosen stain and you’ll have a fence that looks pretty much identical to Western Red Cedar — if those pinks, reds and browns are what you’re after.
5. Ayous (heat treated) — for an exotic, durable & stable fence at a cheaper cost
A timber species native to west and central Africa, when Ayous is thermally modified it becomes a seriously stunning, stable and durable clear grade fencing timber.
Also known as African whitewood, Obeche and Abachi, this heat modification boosts Ayous’ resistance to decay, providing added dimensional stability by increasing its hydrophobicity (repellence to water). The process also changes its original creamy white-yellow colour to a darker brown.
If you’re looking for an exotic, long-lasting fence that shares many visual similarities to another fellow exotic hardwood, Iroko, but is slightly easier on your pocket, Ayous might be the one for you.
Once you’ve decided on a durable timber species, you need to choose a style.
Different styles & types of wooden fencing & fence panels
Fences can be broadly categorised as either ‘solid’ or ‘semi-solid’. Within these categories, there are a number of styles and types, each providing a different level of boundary marking and a different visual look (contemporary, traditional, decorative).
Slatted — a sleek, designer and wind resistant look
Falling into the semi-solid category, there’s no arguing with the clean, contemporary style that slatted fencing effortlessly provides, regardless of the species chosen.
The 10mm gaps create shadows that cascade and change during the day in areas that would traditionally be shaded, helping to maximise the amount of natural light in your outdoor space — a smart, architectural touch. Slatted fencing can even be used to create a feature panel, or for creating themed spaces by acting as a divider.
Connoisseurs of the slatted fence may be familiar with a number of subtypes of this style, including Venetian, Louvre or Metro.
Semi-solid fences such as slatted are less dramatic than solid styles, helping to create a more welcoming, airier and connected space. Particularly when installed horizontally, the slats provide a clear line for our eyes to pass across smoothly, elongating and adding the impression of size — a great design-led trick if you’re working with a smaller space.
One downside to slatted fencing that’s commonly touted is that it does not provide a desired level of privacy. Greater segregation can be attained by choosing a slatted fencing style that has wider slats (such as 90mm or 70mm, rather than the more popular 45mm). That said, you might be surprised at the degree of privacy that slatted fencing actually provides in practice!
This type of fence has the additional benefit of being able to withstand wind. The gaps allow punishing winds to pass through, taking an incredible amount of stress off the posts and panels. Over on another blog, we’ve written in more detail about the best fence styles for windy areas.
Closeboard — for a robust, timeless solid fence style with optimal privacy
The most popular type of solid fencing is closeboard, also known as featherboard (or even featheredge). The boards are tapered and overlap vertically, providing no way of seeing through — the maximum amount of privacy.
Unlike slatted fencing, as the name would suggest, solid styles are manufactured without gaps. When installed to a height of 6ft, this style marks boundaries distinctly, keeps intruders out. It can also work particularly well for uneven ground.
There’s a reason why solid fencing is ubiquitous across the UK. It has never gone out of style and never will — it’a a timeless choice that simply looks good and does the job, and can provide a traditional or modern look.
Of course, one downside to this type of fencing is that it can be susceptible to weather damage. If in an exposed area, repeated winds can cause stress on posts, as well as leading panels to look weatherbeaten a bit faster. This makes sturdy construction and use of durable, strong timber absolutely crucial.
Overlap — for a versatile, solid design with excellent privacy
Another popular type of solid fencing includes overlap, where horizontal boards are overlapping one another. This is available in waney-edge for a particularly rustic, characterful look, or straight for a more contemporary finish. Like closeboard, this provides a good deal of privacy and boundary marking.
Tongue & groove — for strength, security and a sleek finish
There are also very contemporary options for solid fencing, making use of modern profiles: think tongue & groove boarding with either a V detail or a shadow gap. These are usually manufactured to a high specification from a quality timber species and can provide a very sturdy solution.
Hit-and-miss — a versatile, decorative and wind-proof style that offers good privacy
Also known as ventilation fencing, this type of semi-solid fence is manufactured to allow wind to pass through whilst not compromising on privacy. If you’re looking for a high level of boundary marking in a very exposed area, hit-and-miss is probably the one for you.
This is achieved by the slats being fixed alternatively on the front and back of a batten, so there are small gaps in between for gusts to pass through, relieving pressure on the panels and posts whilst still providing what looks like a solid-panel appearance.
Visually, hit and miss is versatile. Unlike with solid styles of fencing like featherboard, there’s no ‘bad side’, and hit-and-miss can find its home just as easily in a smart, minimalist urban outdoor space as well as a countryside, cottage-style garden (perhaps with trailing plants). For added decoration, you might even want to complete it with a lattice top.
Woven — for making a statement and adding privacy
This type of fence can offer a very smart finished look whilst retaining strong elements of privacy and resistance to wind, with the slats weaving in and out of the battens to provide a pleasing textured look.
This type still allows some light through, which can create a neat appearance as sunlight produces an ever-changing shadow throughout the day. Like hit-and-miss, this style can combine privacy with attractiveness.
Lattice — for partitioning and adding flair
This is a highly decorative style that provides little-to-no privacy but, like with slatted fencing, can be ideal for theming certain spaces, dividing up your garden or adding a touch of flair.
Picket — for something traditional and decorative
With its open spaced design, picket fencing offers little-to-no security, but is a smart, timeless way of marking out a boundary, particularly for the front of a property. They often have gates built in.
Chevron — for an decorative, rural-inspired feel
When the boards are attached to the frame in a diagonally, the result is a highly unique ‘V’ shape. There are a number of different sub-styles of chevron fencing, but it is typically manufactured with gaps between the boards, permitting some light and wind through.
Pricing up your fencing project: how much does a timber fence cost?
The cost of a wood fence project, unsurprisingly, can vary dramatically depending on the size of your project, the timber you use for it and the style and size of panels chosen.
These are the prices you’ll be looking at when buying a slatted fence in a beautiful, high-performance timber *:
- Western Red Cedar — from £3.50 + VAT per linear metre
- Iroko — from £3.50 + VAT per linear metre
- Thermo-Ayous — from £2.75 + VAT per linear metre
- Siberian Larch — from £2.40 per linear metre
- Alaskan Yellow Cedar — from £2.40 + VAT per linear metre.
If you choose a slatted fence, larger 70mm pieces will naturally command a higher price than a fence with 45mm slats. If you’re choosing a contractor to build your fence, labour costs will clearly need to be factored in. 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 typically have a much shorter lifespan than naturally durable woods. Bear 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 outdoor 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.
* Prices are correct as of June 2022.
Fencing installation quick guide & top tips
Settled on a species and a style? Next up is installation. There’s always the option to hire a professional team, of course, 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. Don’t forget to factor the width of the posts into your measurements.
- 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.
- Unless you’re very fortunate, you’ll be likely to need a panel cutting to size to complete your fence. Make sure to prepare measurements for this before you speak to your fence merchant; they’ll be able to create a bespoke panel.
- When buying your posts, remember that you need around a third of the post’s intended height in the ground (so, 2ft in the ground for a 6ft post). 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.
- If you’re using timber posts, it’s best to ensure they’re treated to prevent rotting. Soak the ends of the posts in a bucket (the parts that will be in the ground) with a wood preservative before planting them; ideally, ensure they’re given around 24 hours.
- Dig all of your holes and use markers to ensure everything is the correct distance apart.
- Make sure the posts are level across both sides; wooden stakes are useful here.
- If using cement, pour in some fast-setting concrete mix and then add water, waiting a few minutes and holding your post upright before moving onto the next post. Of course, make sure you have a spirit level and, if possible, a partner to help.
- 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.
- 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 panels are 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 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).
How long does a timber garden fence last for?
You won’t be surprised to learn that the service life of a fence depends on a few factors: the species of wood you use, the style, as well as the quality of installation and the regularity of follow-up treatment.
A well-constructed, well-cared-for fence made of a quality species like Western Red Cedar can have a lifespan of over 40 years. Cheaper styles of solid fence — such as those typically found in home improvement stores — can start to need replacing or repairing within 10 years, especially if you live in a windy area.
So, that brings us helpfully on to the next part of our guide — treatment, maintenance and care for your fence.
Fencing treatment and maintenance
If you choose one of the timbers listed earlier in this guide, they’re either highly naturally durable or have been thermally modified — so can perform well without strictly needing any preservatives. However, to maximise the longevity of your project, you might want to give your fencing components some initial treatment.
The biggest threat to the integrity of your fence is post rot. Therefore, make sure you use a robust timber species (if you’re not using concrete posts). In the long run, it’s worth the effort of soaking your posts in a preservative for 24 hours before planting them to maximise their lifespan.
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 moisture and the sun’s UV rays, avoiding the silvery-grey aesthetic (if undesired, that is — the ‘silver fox’ look is actually quite on-trend!).
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.
Start your fencing project today
We stock timber slatted screen fencing in a wide range of beautiful, versatile and highly durable species. We have over six decades’ experience helping home improvers, architects and designers across the UK to create the perfect perimeter for their property.
Whether residential or commercial, start your project by clicking the ‘Get in touch’ button below.