Storm damage to garden fences – what you need to know!

I believe most of us now consider the recent storms to be more common than we have been used to. I extend my sympathies to those suffering the effects of flooding from the recent poor weather but thought it may prove useful to offer some thoughts as to solving a common problem caused by the strong winds – namely the broken fence.

Broken Closeboard Fence - Feb 2013

When considering whether to repair or replace it is wise to note not just the current damage, but the remaining life expectancy of the fence. It may well make sense to replace the fence, rather than spend money now on repairs to only have to replace the fence in the next year.

Common Repairs to Lap panel and Close board fences…

Lap Panel - June 2013                          Finished Sept 12 (3)

Firstly let us look at what can be done with a broken post. Installing replacement posts is not straight forward as the remainder of the post in the ground will be encased in a concrete anchor which will need to be removed prior to the new post being fitted. Whereas this will offer the most visually pleasing solution it is also the most expensive. So let us look at other options. The weakness that has allowed the post to fail is caused by wood rot located in the region where the post enters the ground and significantly where it joins the concrete anchor. Invariably the remaining post will be in good condition and if this the case then a concrete repair spur can offer an alternative to replacement. The spur requires anchoring in a concrete foundation securing it adjacent to the face of the post. Once the concrete has set the broken post is then coach bolted / screwed to the spur – job done! The down side of this approach is that there is now a concrete post on show – albeit only 400mm high – it may look a little ‘industrial’.

Secondly let us consider broken or loosened panels. If the posts are in good order but the panels have been damaged then almost certainly it is advisable to replace the panel. Often this will be the scenario if your fence has been constructed with concrete posts but is also often the case with timber posts. Please do check the integrity of the posts to be sure that money spent replacing panels is not going to be a waste of money as the post proceed to snap with the pressures of the next high wind! Another bit of advice when buying panels – check that they are pressure treated (will resist rotting much longer) and not just dip treated.

Thirdly let us look at what can be done to repair a broken bay in a close board fence. Close board fences are usually considerably more robust than lap panel type fences. As such the more likely cause of damage will be that of falling trees which will inevitably break the feather edge boards and the triangular cross rails (Arris Rails). To replace the bay once the damaged section has been removed will require the rails to be fitted at one end into the mortice socket of one post but then the tennon at the opposite end will need removing and a repair bracket used to secure the rail at the other end. It is unlikely that you will be able to re-use any of the original items and therefore expect to have to purchase a new gravel board, 2 or 3 arris rails and the same number of repair brackets, a centre peg and then 13 of appropriately sized feather edge boards per meter of fencing.

What if the need is to replace?

Factors that influence your decision will include:-

The level privacy you wish to preserve – Generally people enjoy more privacy in their back gardens than in the front. In a front garden it may be appropriate to specify a post and rail type fence or one that does not completely obscure sight – choices include split chestnut or Park railings,  palisade / picket style fencing as well as low height solid fences. Where greater privacy is required a solid fence at a greater height is normally used. Note that you will require planning consent if you wish to install a fence higher than 2m. The common choice is for Lap panels or close board, but there are a considerable range of decorative panels with either straight or curved tops.

Where the location is particularly exposed to the elements but privacy is still a requirement a fence such as a hit and miss boarded fence may be most appropriate. The style allows for the wind to pass through but at the same time prevents any sight lines compromising your privacy.

Where the requirement is to screen off unsightly elements various decorative screens can be specified. These usually consist horizontal or vertical or diagonal slats with greater or smaller gaps between according to the level of screening required.

Other factors which will influence your choice may include security – metal fences such as chain-link as well as reinforced timber fences are available and of course the most significant point – your budget!!

A final thought with regards costs. At Grosvenor Landscape Technologies we are always pleased to offer our clients options at the quotation stage for their consideration. With this in mind it may surprise you how little extra it costs to specify ‘better’ quality – so do make sure you have the information required for you to make the right decision.

For more information about garden fences and boundaries such as walling and hedges please visit the  appropriate pages in our hard landscaping section of this website.

Should you require a quotation for repairs of replacement fences the please contact Martin Blake for a no obligation quotation.