Two things are very important in the garden. They are privacy and shelter. The latter is often a problem in gardens that are exposed to cold prevailing winds. Both these points are important not only for the gardener himself but also for the plants in his garden. Young growth can be severely damaged by cold winds and frequent buffeting will cause a great deal of root disturbance. Although privacy and shelter can be provided by trees and shrubs, fences also have an important part to play.
The choice of fencing must never be undertaken lightly, for serious consideration must be given to its appearance and construction. Strength is very important, especially in exposed, windy localities. A fence is only as strong as its supports, and particular care must be taken to see that these are not only substantial but inserted securely. Most fences are supplied with strong posts, usually 10-15cm (4-6in) square, depending on the type of fence that has to be supported. Sometimes concrete posts are supplied; these are extremely strong, although a little more cumbersome to install.
It is very important to see that concrete posts are inserted deeply and firmly. The strength of timber also depends on the prevention of rot, and unless cedar wood is used (except for posts), all timber should be treated with a suitable preservative. Creosote can be used, although it should be allowed to soak into the timber for several weeks before plants are trained against it. Unless this is done, there is the danger of stem and leaf scorch and its use is not generally recommended where plants are to be grown against or near a fence. A safer treatment consists of the use of copper naphthenate preservatives such as the green, horticultural grades of Cuprinol or Solignum.
Types of fencing
The most popular types are purchased as units or panels. Usually they are from 1.5-1.8m (5-6ft) in length with heights varying from about 90cm-1.8m (3-6ft). A solid or close-boarded fence is, as its name implies, a design that consists of upright or horizontal strips of wood, some 15cm (6in) wide, and 2-2.5cm (3/4 1in) thick. The strips are nailed to two or more supporting rails at the rear of the panel. These provide complete privacy and wind protection but are rather uninteresting in appearance.
Weatherboard fencing provides a little more interest in its appearance as it consists of wedge-shaped strips of wood, 2cm (1in) in thickness at one edge, tapering to 1 cm (3/4 in) at the other. Each strip overlaps the next by about 2cm (3/4 in). The advantage of this design is that it is virtually peep proof.
Interwoven fencing is very attractive but inclined to open up a little, especially in the cheaper units. Thin strips of wood, approximately 10cm (4in) wide and 1 cm (1/2n) thick, are interwoven one with another. It is a strong fence if it is supported well. Trellis fencing is very cheap and more suited as a support for climbing and trailing plants. It is not a strong design but can be used to good effect for covering unsightly walls or as an additional part of a fence design. Sections 45-60cm (18-24in) deep look most attractive if attached to the top of, say, a close-boarded fence. Used in this manner it helps to lighten an otherwise heavy, solid design.
Trellis fencing usually consists of laths of wood 2.5 by 1.5cm (1 by 1/2 1/2 in) thick, fastened across each other vertically and horizontally to form 15-20cm (6-8in) squares. The laths are attached to a more substantial framing of 2.5 or 3cm (1 or 1 1/2 in) square timber.
Two other cheap types of fencing are wattle and cleft chestnut. The former is useful where a rural or rustic effect is desired. The woven, basket-like construction produces a very sturdy fencing panel. The panels are usually attached to lengths of oak stakes driven securely into the ground. The latter fence can be purchased with the individual pieces of cleft chestnut spaced out at different intervals. It is possible to purchase rolls of this fencing with the paling nearly touching. The rolls are usually attached to strong oak posts by galvanized wire. In their construction, individual cleft chestnut palings are wired top and bottom to strong horizontal wires.
One of the latest advances in fence production is the sale of kits which are so accurately machined and complete that even an unskilled person can erect panels without any trouble. With these kits have come new ideas in design, and many can be made up of contemporary designs. This is especially useful where bold effects are required in the construction of patios. Many ultra-modern properties are being built and this advance in fence appearance will be welcomed by their owners.
Fencing can also be provided in the form of a chain link or mesh netting. The best quality is heavily galvanized to withstand the rigors of the weather.
A more recent innovation is the plastic coating of chain link over the galvanized wire. Standard colors of dark green, black, white, yellow and light green can be obtained.
Wire netting is another cheaper and useful fencing material. Wire netting is easy and quick to erect as it requires only moderately substantial supporting posts of timber or angle iron spaced approximately every 1.8-2.4m (6-8ft) apart according to the height and length of the fence being erected.
Another type of fencing is known as rustic. This is constructed from larch or pinewood of the circular section. The main uprights are usually quite substantial and are cut from 7-10cm (3-4in) diameter timber while the design work between them is of a thinner section, usually about 3-5cm (1 1/2-2in) diameter. The most popular design consists of a diamond pattern of approximately 45cm (18in) in the area. It is sold by the square foot either with the bark on or removed, stained, and varnished. The result is a most natural fence or screen which blends in very well with the surroundings.