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Common fencing FAQs

If you're beginning a new fencing project or have questions about maintaining your existing fence, we're in a position to help. Here at Timberworld, we've compiled a list of the most frequently asked fencing questions so you can overcome any problems you may have. Whether you're wondering how deep a fence post should be or need advice on what colour fence makes your garden look more extensive, we've got the expertise, experience and an answer.

Which side of the fence is mine?

The first thing to know is that in the UK, we don’t generally split ownership of fences. That means there is no your side and my side. Instead, one homeowner is responsible for the fence in its entirety

So, how do you know whether you’re responsible for a fence or not? There are four main ways of telling.

1. Look at the property title plan and registry details

This is sometimes known as the office copy and should tell you who owns the fence.

2. Check the boundaries.

Fences are typically built on the owner's property. This means the fence's "bad" side (where the rails and posts are visible) typically faces the owner's garden, while the "good" side (which has a smoother finish) faces the non-owner's garden.

3. Ask the conveyancer.

If you purchased the property, you probably used a conveyancer. They should be able to help you establish ownership.

4. Who maintained the fence?

Finally, if there’s no other way of telling, ownership usually comes down to who previously performed maintenance on the fence. If you repaired it in the past, you’re likely responsible for it in the future.

Can my neighbour attach things to my fence?

The simple answer to this one is no. If you're the fence owner, your neighbour cannot attach anything to the fence without permission. They shouldn't be nailing, drilling, screwing or sticking anything to the structure without asking you first.

If your neighbour has already attached things to the fence, it’s a good idea to first double-check that you do own the fence. That process is covered in the previous question. From there, you can approach your neighbour politely and respectfully. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a solution quickly

How deep should a fence post be?

The depth of your fence post depends on several factors, including the height of the fence, the width of the post and the type of post. However, following a few general rules will help to prevent fencing disasters.

Most experts suggest you dig fence pole holes to a depth of at least 600mm. If your fence is particularly tall, you may need to go slightly deeper to around 750mm. A popular way of working out the preferred depth of a post hole is to divide the above-ground height of the post by three. For instance, if you have a fence that’s 210cm tall, you will need a hole that’s 70cm (or 700mm) deep.

Do you need planning permission for a fence?

In most cases, you do not need to apply for planning permission to put up a new fence or alter an existing fence. However, you do need to apply for planning permission if:

  • The fence is next to a road and exceeds one metre in height
  • The fence exceeds two metres in height
  • Any part of the property is registered as a listed building
  • The fence borders a property that is registered as a listed building
  • The right to erect or alter fences was removed by a planning condition or article four direction

How can I cover a boring fence?

If you’re a little bored of your fence or feel you need to cover up a few ugly panels, there are several ways to do so. Fixing a trellis or wires to the fence allows you to grow climbing plants that cover the panels in beautiful greenery, while potted shrubs and plants achieve the same thing. You can also beautify your fence by hanging artworks, lighting and planters on the panels or by turning the fence into a living wall.

What colour fence paint makes the garden look bigger?

Most people know that light colours in the home help make rooms look bigger and more spacious. However, the same doesn’t go for gardens. In fact, white or light-coloured fences can actually have the opposite effect, as they catch the eye and focus the attention on your garden’s actual dimensions. Instead, look at darker colours, such as deeper greens and greys.

Greens blend exceptionally well with plants and vegetation, making the garden seem like it stretches off into the distance. A soft blue-grey is a good option if you are committed to lighter colours. It doesn't distract from your flowers and plants, but it does add a splash of contemporary colour.

How close can a shed be to a fence in the UK?

This question requires more of a technical answer as there are several practical considerations. First - planning permission. You will usually need planning permission for a shed if it's more than 2.5 metres tall and positioned within two metres of the property boundary. However, the exact rules vary from region to region, so it's worth checking with your local council.

Beyond planning permission, you’ll need to think about access, maintenance and damp. Can you get into your shed easily if it’s positioned next to a fence? Can you perform any necessary repairs? Is there sufficient airflow to prevent the wood from becoming damp and mould forming? With these factors in mind, experts usually suggest you leave at least two feet (60cm) space around a shed.

How high can a garden fence be?

Without planning permission, your fence can be a maximum of two metres high unless it's beside a road, in which case a one-metre height restriction applies. Anything above these dimensions will require planning permission, and the rules governing those structures vary from region to region.

How long do timber fence posts last?

It all depends on whether it’s treated or untreated timber. Untreated timber typically lasts around five years before it needs replacing. Treated timber often makes it to 10-15 years. However, it’s not uncommon to hear of treated timber fence posts that are still good 30 years after installation.

How do I stop ivy from growing through the fence?

Ivy can be tricky to deal with. It often seems invincible and springs back to life just at the moment you think you’ve finally got rid of it. It can also cause significant damage to your fence.

If the ivy originates on your side of the fence, cut it at the stem and pull it up by the roots. Once you weaken the ivy, you can then systematically pull the ivy from the panels, taking extra care not to damage the fence. You may need to cut the branches in places to make this easier. You can also mix up an 80% water and 20% vinegar solution and spray it on the ivy. Be careful not to spray any other plants, though.

How do I clean a wood fence without pressure washing?

Pressure washers can be an effective tool for cleaning fences. However, at the wrong setting, they can also cause damage. If you don’t want to take the risk, the most simple and effective alternative is with warm water, dish soap, a scrubbing brush and plenty of elbow grease!

Can you use deck stain on a fence?

Yes, you can use deck stains on a fence. If you have deck stain left over from doing your decking, it makes sense to use up the remainder. However, if you're buying a stain for your fence, it's a good idea to go for one designed specifically for fences. As deck stains are made to withstand foot traffic, they're typically two or three times the price of fence stains.

If you’re looking for additional information on fencing and fencing materials, take a look at our dedicated fencing page. We also produced a fantastic blog covering our top fencing advice. From understanding what fencing options are available to learning how to build and maintain the perfect fence, our fencing advice and ideas page is the place to go.

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