How to build a garden fence
YOU WILL NEED
- Spirit level
- String and pegs
- Sledge hammer (for metal spikes)
- Tape measure
- Fence panels
- Fence posts
- Fixing brackets
Time to complete job: A weekend for a very small fence.
Approximate budget: From £20 per panel, £10 per post, £7 per metpost.
What types of fence are available?
Broadly there are four different types, and they can be built piece by piece or, more commonly, from pre-made panels.
What are the fence post options?
There are four main types:
How high can I build a fence?
It’s a matter of planning policy, so you’ll need to contact your local authority to find out what’s allowed in your area. As a general rule, planning permission isn’t required for fences in rear gardens up to 2 metres (6’) high. Planning permission is required for fences greater than 1m (3’ 3”) high which front a public road.
Whose responsibility is the fence?
There’s no hard and fast rule. You’ll need to check the deeds of your home to see.
How do I remove old fencing and posts?
Fencing doesn’t last forever so it will need replacing. If there are shrubs leaning on the fence for support you’ll need to dig them up and re-plant them. If you’re removing old concrete posts, take them back to ground level with a sledge hammer, lump hammer and cold chisel and hack saw off any reinforcing bars. If you have concreted in wooden posts, it is best to remove the old concrete - but you can cheat and cut the old posts off at ground level.
How do I lay out the posts?
The best way to do this is by running string over the projected path of the fence and marking where the fence posts will go. By doing this you can gauge the materials you need and where the posts will go. Work out your fence height, and so the length of posts you need. Include any gravel boards (see below) in this calculation. (If you are concreting your posts in, remember to add the extra height for the section of post going into the concrete.)
Any tips for using metposts?
Metposts are available in different sizes:
Drive the spike into place with a sledgehammer (protecting the square socket at the top with a piece of surplus post). As you hammer it into position check with a spirit level that it’s perfectly plumb, as you are driving it in.
Depending on the type of spike you’ve bought, you’ll either secure the fence post with clamp bolts or screw through the pre-drilled holes in the sides of the socket.
Tip It is possible there are cables or pipes in the ground so check before driving spikes in - if unsure talk to your council.
How high off the ground do I fix the panels?
It is best to leave room under the panel for a gravel board - basically a treated length of 25mm thick timber that will sit on or just below soil height - if this board rots, it is much easier to replace than an entire panel. If you are fixing a gravel board, take this into account when working out your post height.
What about sloping ground?
On sloping ground, fix the posts vertically, and the panels horizontally, and make up the gap between panel and ground with angled gravel boards.
And how about fixing panels to the posts?
The most common fixing method is to nail the panel directly onto the fence posts using either 65mm or 75mm galvanised nails. These must be applied on both sides of the fence panels, i.e. front and back, and care must be taken to avoid splitting the battens - you can drill pilot holes for the nails first.
An alternative is galvanised panel clips, with four holes for galvanised nails to secure the panels to the post.
Any tips on treating and weather-proofing?
Treat the fence with preservative as soon as it is built. Spraying is infinitely easier than painting. In addition, treat any cut surfaces before installation, and it is a good idea to fit post caps, too.