Which fenc­ing style is best for your home?

Creat­ing a bound­ary that com­ple­ments your home is key to com­plet­ing an out­door space. Here are a few things to con­sider if you’re still on the fence about fenc­ing

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Carol Buck­nell.

It’s one of the most dom­i­nant fea­tures in the gar­den, so your fence’s ap­pear­ance will have a ma­jor in­flu­ence on the over­all look of your out­door space. We’re spoilt for choice with fenc­ing op­tions, but how do you de­cide what style is best for your home?

Look for cues

The ar­chi­tec­ture of your home is the most ob­vi­ous style cue when it comes to choos­ing fenc­ing. Picket fences are a nat­u­ral choice for cute cot­tages, while wrought iron suits hand­some vil­las. A con­tem­po­rary rec­tan­gu­lar con­crete and glass struc­ture on the other hand cries out for the same clean lines on its bound­aries. You may de­cide to pick up on just one fea­ture in the house, for in­stance the colour of the roof, and use this for a painted tim­ber fence. Avoid go­ing over­board with one ma­te­rial though, as this can se­ri­ously de­tract from your home’s ex­te­rior ap­peal. Cor­ru­gated steel cladding on both the house and fences would give you a se­ri­ous case of me­tal fa­tigue.

Gar­den style

The style of your gar­den is also an im­por­tant fac­tor. Re­laxed sub­trop­i­cal or coastal gar­dens sit well with struc­tural fea­tures made from nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als. Think bam­boo, trel­lis and brush­wood screens or stained, rough-sawn tim­ber.

Tim­ber fences, es­pe­cially pick­ets, are also per­fect for cot­tage gar­dens but th­ese should be painted white or soft colours so they don’t over­whelm the pro­fu­sion of del­i­cate pas­tel-hued flow­ers that of­ten spill over the bound­aries of such spa­ces. If yours is a for­mal gar­den with box hedg­ing and neatly trimmed beds, then an el­e­gant, tra­di­tional fence of wrought iron and con­crete or painted, dressed tim­ber with cap­ping and post heads might be the go.

With min­i­mal­ist, con­tem­po­rary gar­dens, where the plant­ing is usu­ally more sparse and sculp­tural, the fence is of­ten a fea­ture in its own right. It should be mod­ern, well de­tailed and made of good-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als, for ex­am­ple painted or stained ver­ti­cal tim­ber screens, Corten steel or off-form (shut­tered) con­crete.


A good fence builder will come to the site to as­sess fac­tors such as ac­cess, gra­di­ent, land sta­bil­ity, ex­ist­ing veg­e­ta­tion and so forth be­fore giv­ing you a quote. If your site is tricky, for in­stance a steep slope or rock sub­strate that needs sub­stan­tial drilling for foot­ings, this will add sig­nif­i­cantly to the cost of your fence.

Le­gal is­sues

+ Ask your lo­cal coun­cil about per­mit­ted heights and ma­te­ri­als. In some her­itage ar­eas, only wooden picket fences are al­lowed. Re­source con­sent is usu­ally re­quired for bound­aries above 2.5 me­tres.

+ Un­der the Fenc­ing Act, your neigh­bours are obliged to split the cost of re­plac­ing an un­sat­is­fac­tory bound­ary fence with one that is con­sid­ered legally ‘ad­e­quate’. Be pre­pared to ne­go­ti­ate on the fi­nal de­sign.

+ Be­fore you start build­ing a new fence, make sure your prop­erty’s le­gal bound­aries are clearly de­fined. If you’re un­sure, get a sur­veyor in.

How much will it cost?

Fenc­ing can range from $50 to $2000-plus per lin­eal me­tre, de­pend­ing on the ma­te­rial. Trel­lis, brush­wood and bam­boo pan­els will cost the least and can be fixed onto ex­ist­ing fences.

But th­ese are con­sid­ered short-term (10-15 year) op­tions. Tim­ber is one of the cheap­est ma­te­ri­als, par­tic­u­larly if it’s rough sawn (not planed or treated af­ter cut­ting) and un­painted.

Paint­ing and stain­ing tim­ber will add to the cost, but im­prove longevity and give the fence a con­tem­po­rary fin­ish. Tim­ber pal­ings are cheaper than solid tim­ber as are wood-plas­tic com­pos­ite fences such as Du­rafence. Th­ese are sold in a range of styles and mar­keted as more durable and lower main­te­nance than tim­ber.

If you pre­fer me­tal, then pow­der-coated steel rails or pan­els and wrought-iron and alu­minium pan­els are in the same mid-range price bracket as solid tim­ber, but in­stal­la­tion may cost more.

Fur­ther up the cost scale are con­crete and AAC (au­to­claved aer­ated con­crete, eg Hebel) panel fences with build­ing costs likely to be higher too, es­pe­cially for tight and tricky sites. Con­crete block and rock walls are at the very top of the price range as far as cost, longevity and, many would say, aes­thetic ap­peal go.

+ TIP If your bud­get is tight, in­vest more in your front fence, which is what ev­ery­one sees, and use cheaper ma­te­ri­als for the side and rear bound­aries.

+ TIP For speedy and sim­ple con­struc­tion, con­sider a pre­fab­ri­cated fenc­ing sys­tem such as A-lign or Lam­i­nata, which also re­duces waste.

+ TIP When buy­ing tim­ber for fences, make sure it has the cor­rect treat­ment level. Fence pal­ings that are not touch­ing the ground are usu­ally H3.2 treated for ex­po­sure to weather but any posts dug into the ground must be H4 treated.

+ TIP For a pro­fes­sional look when build­ing ver­ti­cal tim­ber screens, make sure all the screws are in a straight line.

+ TIP If you’re think­ing of us­ing rock, al­ways opt for a prod­uct that’s lo­cally sourced. South Is­land schist looks great in Cen­tral Otago, but not so flash in an Auck­land sub­urb where lo­cal blue­stone would vis­ually be a much bet­ter choice.

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