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Planning Retirement Online

Make the most of being fenced in

September 2011 

FencingFences aren’t always given the attention they deserve. Not the ones that receive stolen goods! We are talking about the ones that stand up along the boundaries of gardens, paths and properties to show what belongs to whom and also to keep out animals and unwanted visitors and offer privacy.

Fences can also add tremendously to overall design and look - today you can obtain a fence in almost any material and any colour you want. Upgrading a fence, or changing its colour or design, can add extra value to a property.

Before you undertake repair or renovation, first you need to be sure about who owns the fence and also to confirm where the boundaries are. A copy of the title deeds of a property are available from HM Land Registry. Sometimes, however, the deeds of a property don’t show the fencing and old fences may have been put up by previous owners with little regard for the legal boundaries. Generally, it is accepted that the person who has the posts or struts of a fence on their side is responsible for the fence.

If there is any potential for dispute, then take lots of photographs, try and talk to your neighbours and see if it can be agreed where exactly the fence should be and who is responsible.

However, once you have sorted out the basics, then choosing and putting in a new fence or upgrading an old fence can be very exciting as the choice today is immense.

Fences made of wood are a long term favourite as their natural look enhances gardens and natural vegetation. There is a lot of choice and wooden fences are also quite reasonable in price. Wooden fencing usually comes in pre-constructed panels or pickets and is fairly straightforward to erect. Normally you will have to spend some time and money on maintaining a wooden fence, including annual painting to protect it from the weather and from insects. Be aware that a new wooden fence needs time to expel its moisture before being painted.

For more decorative fencing, wrought iron is a popular choice. The black iron can be shaped into dramatically ornate patterns and the tops of the fencing can be rounded or pointed or cut into other ornamental shapes. They require less maintenance than wooden fencing although they need to be kept in good condition and painted regularly to prevent rust. They can be quite expensive to buy and install.

If maintenance is a problem, then vinyl garden fencing could be the answer. These are usually made from a mixture of reconstituted wood and plastic and are very resistant to damage from the weather and also from domestic animals. They can also look very decorative.

Aluminium fencing can work very well in some locations and usually consist of horizontal rails with upright pickets. Aluminium is a very versatile and pliable material and can also be worked into intricate designs to offer an attractive barrier as well as very good security. It is usually powder coated and can come in a wide range of colours. Other metals such as steel are also available but are usually the choice of commercial properties rather than normal homes.

One of the oldest forms of fencing is hazel and willow. The difference is the sizes of the branches; willow hurdles – or sections of fence – are woven from young thin branches to make a delicate fence while hazel is usually larger and gives a sturdy feel to a fence. Both are eco-friendly and surprisingly robust as well as looking beautiful in most settings.

The use of bamboo for fencing is growing in popularity. This is light, affordable and easy to install and maintain. However bamboo is not individually very solid so a fence has to be constructed with care and adequate material to offer a real barrier.

Of course there are many other materials today to create fencing, from manmade lightweight materials in a wide range of shapes and colours to the traditional dry stone walls built to work as fences around a property.

There are also mesh and chain fencing, electric fencing for added security or to keep animals in or out; and an endless range of decorative aspects.

The more you look at fencing, the more exciting it can become. Why not mix a style of fencing to add real character to a garden or add some colour to a shaded area.

Fences are a much neglected part of modern home improvements, and it can be worthwhile doing a bit of research beyond your local garden centre or fencing company to really find out what is available.

There is a reasonable amount of information on the internet; this one is a good site that shows a lot of different visuals.

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