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Lawsons are the largest independent timber, building & fencing merchants in London and the South East of England. Established in 1921 Lawsons now have a number of branches offering the complete range of building.

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Fencing

How to Protect Your Fence from Rotting

Wet rot is extremely common in the UK thanks to our world-famous climate, which means that gardening enthusiasts and DIYers here need to work a little harder to prevent rot in their fences. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to make sure that your fence lasts longer and looks great.

  1. Choose the right materials – while a wooden fence has an attractive and traditional look, wood close to the ground is prone to absorbing moisture and rotting. Using concrete fence posts, gravel boards, or using concrete footing will help to prevent moisture absorption and therefore rot. Materials such as cedar, juniper, redwood, and cypress also help to prevent rot, while pine is more prone to it.
  2. Treat your fence panels and posts – Lawsons’ fence panels and posts are all coated with preservative, but it helps to top this up both when installing the fence and during annual maintenance. This helps to seal the wood and prevent it from taking on water.
  3. Slope footings away from the wood – when putting in concrete footings, slope the top of the concrete away from the wood. This allows water to drain and prevents it from pooling near the surface of the wood where it can be absorbed.
  4. Clear debris from the bottom of your fence – leaves, grass, and plants can build up at the bottom of your fence and enter the material through tiny cracks. As the vegetation rots, it can spread through your fence causing considerable damage. You just need to keep your fence clear of debris and foliage with some regular maintenance and cleaning.
  5. Replace rotten sections if/when they appear – if you see or suspect some rot in your fence, you don’t necessarily have to replace the whole thing. If you catch it early, you can usually just replace a small section of your fence and stop it from spreading. Fence posts are the most common sites for wet rot since they’re in contact with the ground. Replace rotten sections and make sure to top up the preservative wherever you cut away at the surface of the wood.
How to Straighten a Leaning Fence Post

A leaning fence post can cause serious damage to your entire fence if left unchecked. It could be caused by rotten or broken posts, shallow posts, or just weather damage.

Regardless of the cause, it’s important to straighten wayward posts before they start to pull the rest of the fence with them and require more costly repairs. As with any fence problem, it’s important to stop problems from developing further if you’d prefer to repair your fence rather than replacing it entirely.

Fortunately, there are easy fixes for leaning fence posts so it should not take too much time or money to put it right. Just follow these directions:

  1. Remove the soil around your leaning post and put it on some tarp so that you can easily refill the hole and you don’t leave a mess on your lawn.
  2. If you used cement footing for your post (this is recommended to reduce the risk of rot), you will need to break this out with a sledgehammer or dig it out.
  3. Check your fence post for rot – this is most likely to happen underground. You can check by pressing a screwdriver into the wood – if it sinks in easily, you have a rotten post. Also look out for differences in colour and texture. If you find rot, you will either need to cut it out and fill in the post (if there is only a small section) or replace the post entirely. If you have cut out a rotten section, make sure that you cover the cut wood with a preservative.
  4. Secure your fence post so that it stands straight and check it with a level. Brace your post by nailing stakes in the ground to keep it steady.
  5. Pour in a new cement footing or just refill the hole if you do not use cement footings for your fence. Remember to slope the surface of your cement to let water drain away from the post rather than pooling near the wood.
  6. Pack the soil down to hide the site of repairs and remove your braces.

This simple repair should not take more than an afternoon to complete and will save you time and money in the future.

How to Mend a Storm Damaged Fence

It is not uncommon for severe stormy weather to cause a great deal of damage to your property. Don’t be surprised if you are faced with several repair jobs during the colder, winter months when the wind and rain strikes your garden. Fallen trees and broken fences are frustrating and problematic, but there are measures you can take to deal with storm damage.

If you do find that poor weather has broken your fence, you must try and mend it as soon as you can. This is because wood is likely to rot when it is damp and damaged, so the problem will progress if you delay fixing it.

Assess the Damage

Before you can attempt to fix your broken fence, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Wait for the poor weather to improve and make sure you have the right tools. On closer inspection, you may learn that your fence needs replacing altogether, rather than attempting to repair it.

Be courteous by discussing your plans with your neighbours and confirming that the fence actually belongs to you before you start amending it.

Consider Your Safety

If you are keen to repair the fence yourself, determine whether or not you will need a helping hand, as it might not be a one-man job and you want to avoid over exerting yourself.

Remember that a damaged fence could potentially be sharp and dangerous, so make sure you wear appropriate work gloves to protect your hands and check for service cables around the area.

Replace the Wooden Fence Posts

Check the broken areas of your fence using a pry bar and remove any nails using a pair of pliers. You should also take measurements of the damaged area, so that you know how much replacement wood you need to buy.

After you have removed the damaged wooden posts, replace them with new posts by fitting them correctly in the gap. Make sure the new posts are level and hammer them to the frame of the fence.

Once the posts are firmly fitted you may want to paint them, however, bear in mind that this is optional. Choose a high quality paint that matches the original colour and allow it to dry thoroughly. Protective treatment is also something you can consider, as it can help prolong the life of your fence by defending it against fungi and insects. 

How to Paint Your Fence

For many people, having the perfect garden is just as important as making the interior look great. An easy way to welcome a new lease of life into your garden is to tidy up your fence with a touch of paint. It’s a fairly uncomplicated task, no matter your level of DIY training.

Refreshing your fence will not only make it look better but it will also protect it from natural weather conditions, such as harsh rain that causes the wood to crack. The summer season is the best time to paint your fence, when it’s less likely to rain. Make sure to wear some old clothes and gloves that you don’t mind staining and most importantly, remember to have fun!

Prepare the Area Around the Fence

If there are plants surrounding the fence, protect them from paint splashes by covering them with a dust sheet before you start. If necessary, mow the grass along the line of the fence and move any nearby garden furniture or other objects that might be in the way.

You will also want to ready the surface of the fence by detaching any old nails or screws and scraping off loose or peeling paint. Sand down the coarse areas so that you are left with a smooth, flat surface ready to be painted.

What Tools Do I Need?

Depending on the size of your fence, painting by hand could potentially take a very long time. It might be worth investing in a pump or power sprayer to help you get the job done a lot quicker, but make sure you double check all of the hard-to-reach gaps in case you’ve missed them.

If you’re only painting a small area, using a brush is substantial enough. Brushes are great for more detailed painting, such as around the windows. If necessary, you may want to add a second coating of paint, however, most good quality fence paint tends to only need one coating.

What Paint Should I Use?

Make sure to check that the paint you buy is suitable for exterior use as it will be specifically designed to be tough and durable so that it is not susceptible to weather damage. You will not be short for choice. If you are using a sprayer to paint your fence, make sure you choose a paint that is compatible with your sprayer so that you don’t damage it.

You could also apply an undercoating of wood preserver to further increase the lifespan of your wood, meaning you won’t have to decorate as often. However, this is an optional extra.

Once you’ve finished painting, clean your brushes thoroughly so that they can be re-used in the future. Wipe the tops of your paint tins before you return the lid so that it doesn’t stick. Make sure the tins are securely sealed and store them in a cool, dry place.

How to Install a Garden Fence Using Fence Panels

Now is the time to get out in the garden and start those repairs and improvements you have been putting off, don’t delay any longer – enjoy the challenge.

Tools you will need for to install your garden fence using fence panels

  • String / Ranging Line - key to a straight fence.
  • Fencers Grafting Tool /Post Hole Digger - dig the post holes.
  • Spirit Level - you need to make sure the levels are right.
  • PPE Personal Protection Equipment such as Gloves - safety first!

How to Install a Garden Fence Using Fence Panels

  1. Choosing your fence: The first thing to consider is how you would like your fence to look like. You can opt for an all timber fence with timber fence panels, posts and gravel boards, or alternatively concrete slotted posts and concrete gravel boards.
  2. Setting out: Once you have decided on the style you will need to clear the area where the fence is to be installed and mark your line with Site Pegs and String/Ranging Line. Next, work out where your first post is and start from there.
  3. Start to dig: Dig a narrow hole which is 600mm deep for the first post. It sounds easy but without the right spade you will end up with a very wide hole and therefore requiring a lot of post mix to set your fence post in the ground. The best thing is to either borrow or buy a fencer’s type grafting tool or post hole digger - these are steel shovels with a narrow spade head designed to dig fence post holes neatly. Once the hole is dug, drop in your post, prop with old brick or hardcore, making sure it is vertical and then tip-in your post mix to secure.
  4. Moving on: Once you have concreted in the first post you can measure to the next post using your gravel board to determine its’ position. Dig the second hole and lean the post in the hole. If you are using concrete slotted posts and concrete gravel boards, place the concrete gravel board and your fence panel in the slot of your first post and push the second post upright so that the panel and gravel board are firmly held in the post’s slots. If you are using timber posts with a timber gravel board, fix the fence panel and timber gravel board to the post using metal cleats and nails. Once done fill in the second hole with postmix and allow it to set, and continue to work along your fence line using a string line to keep it straight and level.
  5. Top Tips: 
    • On sloping ground start at the high end and use longer posts.
    • If using timber posts, timber gravel boards and panels are best fixed to the posts with metal clips.
    • To determine the post length add 600mm in the ground + panel height + gravel board + trellis top.
    • If your fence starts from your house or wall, you can use a 100 x 47mm timber wall plate which   attaches to the house, rather than using a post.
   

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Fencing Ideas for Your Garden

Fencing isn’t typically the focal point of a garden – it’s there to provide privacy and security for you and your family – but the right fencing can complement your landscaping work and even provide structure for plants to grow on.

Decorative Fencing

The simplest way to make your fencing a little more interesting is to use decorative fence panels. The boards on these fence panels are arranged in a variety of patterns, and you can choose from a wide range including modern slatted versions as well as traditional European screens.

This is the simplest way to add a little interest to your garden without having to do any additional work on your fence – installation is exactly the same as a normal fence, but you may need to use more panels than usual, depending on the type that you choose.

Make a Living Fence

If you prefer a more natural approach, a living fence could be the perfect addition to your garden. You can make a living fence by installing standard closeboard or lap fence panels for privacy while the plants are growing and during winter. Then install a layer or trellis on the front of this main fence – that works to give your climbing plants a framework to grow over. This double layer has the added benefit of making your fence stronger – perfect for windy areas.

Finally, all you need to do is choose a climber and plant it at regular intervals along the base of your trellis. All climbing plants need to be tied to a support and will require some training at the beginning – the beauty of climbing plants is that they require less and less maintenance as time goes on.

You can choose from twining climbers like Honeysuckle and Clematis, or simple Ivy if you’d like something that doesn’t need as much attention. It’s important to find out which way your fences face and choose an appropriate plant, since some climbers need a lot of sunlight to survive.

Woven Fences

Hurdle fences are a beautiful alternative to fences with traditional panels and boards. They provide a rustic, natural-looking fence that offers privacy without being at odds with the natural environment.

You can even grow climbing plants on these fences to create a living fence, since climbers can cling onto the horizontal binders.

Traditional Fences with a Twist

If you’d just like to add a pop of colour to your garden, why not choose from the huge range of colours now available as wood stains or even just exterior emulsion paint (if you don’t mind the additional maintenance involved)? All of our fence panels are treated with preservative and are ready to paint – it’s usually easier to do so after installation. The maintenance depends on the strength of your colour and the type of paint used – the more vibrant the colour, the more often you will need to repaint it. 

Fencing and the Law - Know Your Rights Before Choosing New Fencing

Boundary disputes are unfortunately extremely common in the UK. Disagreements arise regularly and for all sorts of reasons. There may be a dispute over where the boundary actually lies or there may be disagreement over who is responsible for maintenance or repairs of any existing fences or hedges.

Because there are many older properties in the UK, there are some complex situations with regard to boundaries. Old by-laws, rights of way and historically altered gardens may all contribute to the confusion which sometimes arises.

If there is an ongoing dispute over who owns how much land and this is affecting your ability to replace your fences, it is important to refer to deeds in order to establish what was originally set out when the properties were established and then to compare that to what is evident.

Sometimes, boundaries change over the years due to one householder in the past having encroached on their neighbour’s property by stealth and if this has happened on your property it is then necessary to take steps to regain your land; often this is only possible through a solicitor.

Who can paint or otherwise alter a fence once it’s up?

Only the owner of the fence may make any changes to it, even where the other side of the fence is on neighbouring property. This means that if you erect a fence in your garden, your neighbour must ask for permission before painting or staining their side of it. Similarly, they may not grow trailing plants up it or any similar activity which may cause it damage.

As the owner, you must keep the fence in good repair and ensure that it is safe and does not present any danger to those around it.

If you are in any doubt whatsoever about your fencing, it may be a good idea to contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Fortunately, most neighbours are thoughtful and careful with their fencing and will respect yours; if you’ve decided that it’s time for new fencing, make sure you let your neighbours know well in advance of work beginning. It would be most unfortunate if your new fencing was to be erected on the same day that they’d planned a garden party!

Keep them informed, tell them of your plans and let them know that they can feel free to stain their side if they choose to. This is always the fairest thing to do because then they may have a say in the overall look of their garden. Fencing can have a big visual impact on a garden so if you’re expecting them to like what you’ve chosen, it’s definitely thoughtful to allow them a hand in decorating their own side.

Lawsons supply a huge range of fencing to suit all tastes and budgets; visit our fencing selection today and choose from styles such as traditional Picket, Fence Panels, Closeboard and more unusual fencing including Birds Mouth, Knee Rail and Chainlink.

How to Choose the Right Fencing for your Garden

Deciding which sort of fencing is the best for your property isn’t an overnight task! Getting it right lies in a number of different areas. Much will depend on not only your garden but also the area in which you live.

Aesthetics are always important too – you want your fencing to fit in with the style of your home and to compliment the rest of the homes in the area.

Think about the following areas as you browse the fences available to you.

Privacy: For many of us, our neighbours and passers-by are an accepted part of our lives. We all need to live together to some extent but privacy is not to be underestimated. If you live on a busy street but enjoy using your front garden, then it’s probable that you would like to have some degree of screening available.

If you need real privacy, then select a fence with little or no space between the boards; add climbing plants for a really private boundary.

Security: Security is on the top of many homeowners’ lists when it comes to which fence to buy. Generally, the taller the better if your main concern is putting off intruders. 8ft or more is usually seen to be the option which will provide the most secure boundary though the addition of trellis to a 6ft fence will also work for most people.

Ensure that the exterior section of your fence is not climbable; check how the boards lie…is there a ‘lip’ which could be used as a foothold?

What’s the view like? We’re not all lucky enough to have a beautiful view outside our home and for some people, blocking out an unattractive building or perhaps a busy road is vital.

Taller fencing is a good idea in this instance though if there is only one eyesore you’d like to conceal then consider ‘stepped’ fencing where only those areas you want hidden are fitted with taller sections.

Safety: Securing pools or ponds is an important consideration for people who have children or who have children who visit occasionally. Remember to check the laws on pool enclosure before you purchase any fencing or gates.

A chill wind: If your garden is at the mercy of strong winds on a regular basis due to your positioning, then a good choice of fencing is vital. You can maximise draught exclusion by the addition of hardy climbers.

Period Property: Some period properties are in a designated conservation area which means that fencing choices are somewhat limited. Check up on your rights with regard to your fencing choices before you buy.

Visit Lawsons today to discover more about fencing and see a wide range of options for all your needs.

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