Generally fences are less expensive than brick or stone walls; but also thinner and perhaps less permanent. Nevertheless, a properly constructed fence, made from quality materials and maintained properly will last 50 years or more.
The most common types of fence are solid, made from vertical timbers or metal sheets. Other, perhaps more attractive styles include spaced horizontal timbers, pickets or trellis.
Be careful to select a style of fence which suits the style of your house and garden. Picket fences are ideal for cottage gardens, trellis suits the traditional English garden and brush fencing is appropriate to a natural style garden.
Rough sawn hardwood timber slats nailed to a hardwood timber frame. Very popular as a boundary fence in suburbs. Cost is relatively low and if the right type of hardwood timber is used it will last for several decades without attention.
The ease of installation makes the cost low compared to most other types of fence. Quality varies greatly, and so does price. The cheaper trellis (often made from radiata pine) may only last a year or so in the weather.
Good quality trellis maintained properly and painted (or stained) regularly will last for many many years.
A picket fence is relatively easy to erect and is not beyond the skills of the average home owner. If you do the work yourself, the cost can be kept reasonable. The style is becoming increasingly popular, particularly for cottage gardens and with Victorian style homes.
Brush can be purchased in panels and erected by the home owner, or alternatively constructed on site by contractors. It provides a solid barrier, and the appearance suits bush or natural style gardens.
Galvanized wire mesh attached to steel or timber posts is the cheapest type of fencing available. Wire mesh being see through does not provide the privacy of a solid fence and lacks the strength of other types of fences. Burglars, animals and neighbourhood children will be more likely to break through this type of fence than other types.
A range of other types of metal fencing is also available today. Cast iron, Steel, Aluminum etc are supplied in precast panels by numerous companies and in a variety of styles. If you install a metal fence pay particular attention to avoid corrosion and sharp edges. Some types of metals are more corrosive than others.
Brick or Stone Fences
These are the most permanent, if constructed properly, but also the most expensive. They generally provide the best barrier against noise.
A normal 2m high timber fence requires a timber post 8 10cm diameter for support.
Foundations for a normal fence should be at a depth of approximately 25 30% of the height of the fence (ie: A 2 metre high fence should be attached to uprights set 0.5 metre into the ground.
In loose, moist or sandy soils, uprights should be set in concrete.
In heavy soils, uprights can be set in soil and packed with rubble such as broken bricks, tiles, large stones etc, and rammed with a crow bar.
Any timber poles set in the ground should be soaked thoroughly in a timber preservative such as creosote.
For foundations of fences or fence posts use:
1 part cement : 2 parts bricklayers sand : 3 parts stones (5 to 15mm diameter).
Only use fresh tap or rain water to mix concrete. Never use river or sea water.
To be strong, concrete must dry slowly. If the weather is hot it may be necessary to cover it with wet hessian (or some other cloth), to slow the drying process. It takes several weeks for concrete to reach full strength.