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How to install a garden fence yourself in 9 steps

Good preparation is the secret to putting up a garden fence successfully. It is quite an exhausting job and you will probably find it easier if you have at least one other person to help. You should also move any plant pots or vegetation out of the way and you can replant them once you have installed your fence.

1. Choose the right type of fence

The first thing you should do is look at the design and the size of fencing that you want for your garden. There are a few to choose from such as:

  • Overlap fencing – This is made from overlapping horizontal timber boards. It is a cheap fence but it offers a high level of privacy.
  • Closeboard fencing – This fence is made of vertical overlapping timber boards and is the heaviest and the strongest panel. It is perfect for boundary fencing and is gives you complete privacy.
  • Trellis – You can use Trellis on its own as open screen fencing or you can use it as a decorative panel on top of good, solid fence panel.
  • Palisade – This traditional picket-type fence provides both good security and visibility.

Also, one of the things that neighbours argue about the most is the boundary between both of their properties (where it lies and who is responsible for the up-keep) If you’re unsure then you can check your title deeds. You can get one from the Land registry so don’t panic.

2. Choose the right post for your fence

First, you need to decide if you want wooden or concrete posts (there are pros and cons for both). Do you use concrete or use support posts? Post supports are metal containers that are dug or fixed in to the ground.

  • Wooden posts are easier to handle but as they are buried in the ground there is a higher chance that they will rot.
  • Metal support posts are an easier alternative as they will help you put up your fence fairly quickly.
  • Concrete posts do need a fair bit of work to put up but they will make sure that your fence is strong.

Hint – You must check that your fence qualifies with planning rules. You can ring your local council office for help and advice. You do need planning permission for fences that are over 2m high.

3. Calculate the post lengths

You should decide the length of your fence first and then you can work out the length of your posts. For example, if you’re burying wooden posts in concrete then you will need 8ft (2.4m) posts for a 6ft (1,8m) fence – your posts are 2ft (0.6m) longer than the height of the fence.  If you are using post spikes or bolt-down post sockets then you will need 6ft posts for a 6ft fence and check the post spikes for electric cables in the ground as they do go down to a depth of 18in and check for pipes too. You need to use 4in x 4in posts for fences of 6ft and over and 3in x 3in posts for a fence under 6ft.

4. Calculate the number of panels

Most of the time, fence panels are 6ft wide (1,8m). You need to measure the length of the area that is being fenced and then divide the length by the width e.g. for a 36ft fence – 36ft divided by 6ft = 6 panels. You will also need the same amount of gravel boards to place at the bottom of each fence panel.  You would be better off adding one more fence post to the number of fence panels so that you have enough posts to support both ends of the fence.

5. Prepare for the job

Before you start, you should treat the area with weedkiller. Most fence panels and wooden posts will have already been treated to prevent rot and to stop insects from attacking. It is a good idea to treat and sawn ends with an all-purpose wood preservative though, just in case. You can use a string line and pegs in the ground to mark out where the panels will be going.

6. Using metal spikes as support

It is important to check the location for any power cables and water pipes. If you’re unsure then just talk to your local council. Start off by making a pilot hole with a metal spike, bar or a rod and place a piece of scrap timber into the socket of the metal spike. You can drive down the wedge of timber into the pilot hole by using something such as a sledgehammer, but make sure that the top of the socket is level with the ground. Beware though as stones and hard ground can make it tough to drive the post in exactly straight so you should use a spirit level as you hammer the post in to check that it is staying straight. You should buy 600mm spikes for 4ft fences and 750mm spikes for anything higher or you can bolt sockets with flat, square bases into concrete.

7. Fixing your posts into concrete

The holes for your posts should be three times as wide as your post, for example – for a 4in post, the hole should be roughly about 12in. The holes should also be 2ft deep. Following your sting line, dig a hole for each post with a post spade post-hole borer which you can hire. You can use a wooden batten cut to 6ft as a guide so you don’t have to lift the heavy panels into position. When the post is in place, you can ram broken stone or brick into the base of the hole to help support the post. You are better using off a custom-made concrete instead of mixing your own concrete as it’s easier to use. The concrete should be just above ground level. Trowel the surface smooth, sloping the concrete away from the post to let water run off it. Check that the post is straight with a spirit level and then prop it up with one or two timber batons to hold it in position while the concrete sets. Leave the concrete for about an hour to let it harden and then you can attach the fencing panels.

8. Fixing your fence panels

You will want to keep the panels off the ground to prevent them from rotting. You can do this by adding treated gravel boards along the bottom or leave a gap of about 100mm under each panel. Screw the panels to the posts using two or three U-shaped post clips per post. You are better off using steel screws to prevent rusting. If you are using wooden posts, trim the tops of each post when they are all in place so they are all the same height.

9. Fencing the sloping site

If your fence is on a sloping area, still keep the panels horizontal. Fill the gap under each panel by cutting a gravel board to fit it or you can build a low retaining wall directly under the fence. This will make your fence look natural and level.