As part of our boundary series, we will look at the various sorts of fencing. Fencing is something often overlooked during the purchase process. If it has been overlooked then with the current timber prices this will be an expensive oversight. We tend to do a very complicated test on fencing. This simply involves leaning on it and should it move under pressure then there is likely a problem. We are looking at this from a residential perspective.

What are the rules foe fencing?

There are planning guidelines with regards to fencing height. When it is next to a road or pavement it should be no taller than 1m in height. If it is not next to a pavement or road it can be up to 2 m. This 2m height would include any trellis attached to the top. There is a little-known British Standard the BS1722 which you have likely never heard of this gives various standards that need to be met for a fence to conform. We seldom see a fence conform to this onerous standard.

Types of post for your fencing

There are really three options concrete, wood or metal. In a residential context we tend to see mainly timber. These are in two distinct sizes 4” or 3” square posts. How thick the post is will indicate how long it will last. So these should be pressure treated to reduce rot. Posts will always rot out eventually and an expected lifespan of 10-15 years for posts imbedded in the ground.

Slotted concrete posts are a much better alternative where infill panels can be easily replaced. The main issue of failure with these concrete slotted posts is corrosion of imbedded metal. Where the reinforcement bars rust causing the concrete to fall off. This often happens around the slots. When this happens the heavy concrete post are very hard to replace.

Types of infill

The most common and cheapest is the infill panel. This is normally 6ft long and of varying heights. So these can be featheredge where the boards are vertically nailed or lap panels where they are fixed horizontally

Better-quality fences are normally built in situ such as the featheredge where timbers (arris rails) are fixed to the posts and vertical planks are nailed to the front, ideally 10 slats to the meter. This gives a very strong infill. To reduce wind loadings sometimes a hit and miss fence infill is used. This is where one plank is nailed to one side of the arris and one to the opposing side so wind can go through the fence but privacy is maintained.

For the shorter fences say next to a road or pavement, a simple picket style or ranch fence can be a quicker cheaper alternative for infill and be more aesthetically pleasing.


As with most things the detailing around the fence will be the deciding factor for its longevity. Installing a gravel board or rot board at the bottom keeps the infill from contact with the ground and is good practice. The BS standard suggests all timber cuts should be re-treated with wood preserver; this is seldom done. A post cap installed don the top of the post should keep water from rotting out the top of the post. A capping piece on top of the fence also can help to shed water away from the wooden slats beneath.

also can help to shed water away from the wooden slats beneath.