Putting up a garden fence

Exteriors, General

There are lots of reasons why you might want to put up a new fence. If your existing fence is looking a bit worse for wear, or perhaps you want a change from the hedge you had before. Installing a new fence is easier than ever with the ease of buying new ready-made fence panels.

Ready-made fence panels seem to have changed the game for DIYers. However, if you want your new fence to look good as well as being sturdy and long-lasting then you’ll still need to put the effort in.

For the best results with longevity, concreting the posts in is the way forward. Professional fence fitters will carefully measure out all the posts and then concrete them in position before attaching the fence panels. This calls for a meticulous degree of accuracy and can cause real headaches for the novice if any inaccuracies appear as concreted in posts can’t be moved easily and fence panels can’t be extended or shortened.

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To help avoid any problems when installing your fence we’ve put together these easy to follow steps:

  1. The first step towards your accurately straight fence is to start with an accurately straight line. Using wooden stakes at each end of your desired line with string tied tightly between the two you have a good, straight starting point for your build.
  2. Using a standard sized garden spade as a guide for width, dig a hole roughly 60cm in depth. This will provide you with enough space to concrete securely around your fence post.
  3. Carefully mark out the position of rest of the post holes you require.
  4. Using the same method as step 2, dig the remaining fence post holes.
  5. Brush on a couple of coats of bitumen-based paint on all sides and at the base of the post.
  6. In the time it takes for your paint to dry drill four evenly spaced pilot holes through the side bars on both sides of each fence panel.
  7. Some people will use a gravel board at the foot of the panel. This works well to stop the end grain touching the ground and absorbing moisture. To do this, position the gravel board just above the section of the post you’ve painted. Drill a hole diagonally through the edge of the gravel board and into the post on both sides. You can use a couple of screws to secure the board. Even if you’re not using a panel with vulnerable end grain, a gravel board will prolong the life of the fence significantly. Leave a small gap between the base of the fence panel or gravel board and the ground over hard surfaces like concrete. This will mean the water can flow underneath not soak into the wood.
  8. Attach the panel to a post on both sides, screwing through the pilot holes you made earlier.
  9. Position the fence panels and lower the posts into the holes. Prop the panel in position with a length of batten run diagonally from the ground to the top of the panel.
  10. A screw through the top of the batten forms a neat hook that stops the panel from moving forwards or backwards.
  11. Check the panel is level using a spirit level. Make any necessary adjustments.
  12. With the first panel secure, fix a post to one edge of the next fence panel and lower the panel and post into position. Use a batten to secure the panel and then check again that it’s level before screwing the new panel to the existing post. Add rubble to the hole and then repeat this whole step until all the fence panels are in position.
  13. Once all the panels are in place check again for level and, with all posts vertical, the fence posts can be concreted in. You can mix up your own cement and ballast to make concrete, but you might prefer to buy bags of ready-mixed ‘post mix’.
  14. Pour water into the hole and tamp down to make up a stiff mix. Keep the mix just below the natural level of the ground so the set concrete can be covered over with earth or turf later on.

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