Fencing remains one of the simplest ways to give structure to a garden, helping us to frame and shape it just as we want it. Whether it’s decorative or functional, trellis or panelled, fencing may seem like a major garden task, but with the right tools, the right know-how, and a little help from a friend, installing your own garden fence needn’t be difficult.
What you’ll need
- Fencing slats / or panels
- Screws / or nails
- Cement and ballast (or ready prepared concrete mix)
- Fencing bar (optional)
First you’ll need to purchase your fencing and fence posts. Whether you’re buying ready-made fence panels, designed to be slotted in between posts, or loose fencing materials that allow you to create your own fence design, you’ll find that they are most commonly sold in 6ft lengths, and are easily cut to size.
Expect to pay around £19 for a quality wooden fence panel, although DIY specialists Wickes are currently offering up to 20% off bulk orders of garden fencing, so by buying in bulk you can cut the cost.
Marking the boundary line
To get started, mark out a boundary line to guide you using a strong piece of twine or string. It’s then time to dig out your fence post holes. Fence posts tend to come in 3×3 inch and 4×4 inch sizes as standard, with 4×4 inch posts giving more support and making for a sturdier fence.
Your fence post holes need to be evenly distributed, 2 feet deep, and flat-bottomed not rounded, to prevent any fence post movement. As a general rule, a 3×3 post will require a 9 inch square hole, and a 4×4 post will require a 12 inch square hole. Increase the hole width by a couple of inches if the surrounding soil is at all weak or sandy.
Drop in the fence post, using a spirit level to ensure that it is vertical. Make sure that you have 6ft 1 inch of post above ground level, 6ft for the fencing, with an extra 1 inch to spare above the fencing for the post cap.
Concreting in the fence posts
Your fence posts need to be concreted in place, to ensure a sturdy construction. Semi-dry concrete is the best option, rather than wet, as this allows you to work on the fence immediately, without any need to support the fence posts until the concrete hardens. As a general guide, 25kg of ballast mixed with cement at a ratio of 4:1 should be enough for each post hole.
To ensure the right consistency, squeeze the concrete in your hand – if it crumbles, it’s too dry, if it runs, it’s too wet. The concrete should compact and stick together.
To ram the concrete down and compact it sufficiently, you’ll need a sturdy piece of timber, or alternatively, you can use a fencing bar, which will also cut through any tree roots as you work the concrete in.
Fixing the fencing
Ideally, you want to drill pilot holes into your fixing batten to prevent the wood from splitting when you nail in the fencing.
To attach to the post, you can use wood screws, fixing brackets, or regular nails.
If using nails or wood screws, opt for a 3 inch length, with 3 nails or wood screws for each batten on both sides of the panel.