Depending on circumstances, it is sometimes necessary to fence the site of your new garden. This may be an obligation which has to be carried out within a specified time of acquiring the property and the type and height of garden fence may also be stipulated. In some conservation-conscious areas, authorities demand that only ‘live’ garden fences – i.e., hedges – should be installed. Make sure you read the ‘small print’ carefully in this regard when acquiring a house or a building plot.
Garden hedges, preferably evergreen, are among the most attractive forms of fencing in a garden. Unless the garden hedge is a stout, impenetrable, closely staggered thorn one, it is usually necessary to put a chain-link or similar fence behind it, and this can be done relatively inexpensively.
Attractive though a hedge is, in a small garden in particular, it does take up rather a lot of space -possibly as much as 90 to 120 cm (3 to 4 ft) off the width. It also absorbs an appreciable quantity of moisture from the soil and robs it of a considerable amount of the nutrients which the other plants in an ornamental garden need.
However, boundary hedges can undoubtedly form a very attractive feature in a garden and there is a wide range of shrubs available for this purpose. For all-the-year-round effectiveness choose evergreen shrubs and conifers. Yew is probably the best but it is expensive. Of deciduous varieties, you can choose from hedging shrubs with colourful flowers at various times of the year, those with lovely variegated leaves and others that will brighten the autumn and, sometimes, the winter, with their brilliantly tinted berries.
There are numerous types of ‘artificial’ fence made of a variety of different materials. The three main factors governing your choice is the environment in which the fence is to be erected, the expected length of life of the enclosure and the cost.
Fencing which will fit happily into a rural area is cleft chestnut fencing. Provided that the staves are placed fairly close together, it is quite effective for keeping out intruders. Its other advantages are that it is easy to erect, comparatively inexpensive and has a long life.
Much cheaper fence, but much shorter lived, are hazel-wattle and osier reed hurdles, which are used in various parts of the country for penning sheep. They are obviously suitable for enclosures in rural and semi-rural districts and do provide inexpensive panel fencing. (The osier reed hurdle is a rather attractive yellowish brown colour.)
In suburban and town areas, fencing is usually constructed of timber and the design is very much a matter of personal taste. Among the most attractive types is a garden fence constructed of panels of interwoven slats of wood, the posts of which are usually topped with a cap. This is probably the cheapest of the panel fences, but, in consequence, its life is short. Close-boarded wooden fencing provides the most solid barrier and is usually made of oak. It is very long lasting, but expensive.
Coming between these two types of fencing in terms of cost and life-span is an overlapping Larch fence, which is easy to erect. It is very suitable for use in country districts and does not look totally out of place in town gardens.
Two types of garden fences that form a ‘psychological’ rather than real barrier have become popular. One is the ‘ranch’ fence, composed of horizontal slats about 12.5 cm (5 in) wide, fixed vertically at intervals to upright posts; they are usually painted .white and look particularly attractive round a modern town house, although, if they are to provide security, they need the backing of a tough hedge. The other type is an attractive low fence, particularly suitable for rural districts, known as the Sussex fence. It is constructed of hardwood: a roughly hewn hardwood rail mounted on posts.
The chain-link fence, which is constructed of stout, galvanized or plastic-covered steel or plastic mesh carried on steel angle iron posts, gives a secure barrier. It is suitable for any location, but is improved if its gauntness is concealed by a hedge or climbers.
For permanency and security, nothing is better than a brick or stone wall, but the present-day price of the materials makes them extremely expensive. A screen block wall is both attractive and decorative.
Combination of Hedge and Fence
A combination of garden hedge and fence consists of heavy-gauge wire netting or chain-link fence over which perennial climbing and trailing plants are trained. It is extremely suitable for enclosing small areas, giving the same attractive effect of a growing garden hedge whilst being considerably cheaper to install. Although climbers will take rather longer to grow and knit together to give complete privacy than a conventional garden hedge, they have the advantage of not robbing the soil of much moisture and nutrients. If suitable plants are used, fewer of them are needed to make an effective enclosure. An excellent plant, for example, is the evergreen Pyracantha,theside-shootsof which may be trained to the right and left, growing to a length of at least 120 cm (4 ft). Thus, the shrubs should be planted about 180 cm (6 ft) apart, which is far greater than the normal spacing. The large-leaved variegated Ivy, Hedera colchica dentata ‘Variegata’, is another plant which provides solid evergreen clothing, and can cover a large area most effectively. Polygonicus provides summer flowers and greenery.