How can fences look contemporary?
While the gardens we get to design are gloriously varied, one feature we almost always have to deal with is the fence. All too often, this will be old fencing inherited with the house, like the classic Waneylap panels which sit inside rather hideous concrete posts. This is such a shame, as fencing – though seemingly quite innocuous on its own – has a major impact on the overall appearance of a garden. In almost every case, we’ll want to replace these fences to get the best out of the scheme as a whole.
The silver lining is that the classic concrete posts are good and hardwearing (we’re talking 30 years), so usually we can leave these in place and use them as the skeleton for something a bit more inspiring, like good cladding. A favourite of mine is a softwood timber slat (100ml x 25 ml approx.) with a 10ml gap in between. These are very versatile, because they can be stained to suit the scheme, and give a much warmer, fresher backdrop to your garden.
If you want to go with something a bit more exciting, I favour hardwood slats, such as eroco. Now, be warned: these will cost at least twice as much as the softwood slats, so don’t take the decision lightly. But what you get for this extra cost is a much more hard-wearing fence, and slats that are unlikely to ‘move’ in the way the softwood can.
We’ve had good results with both of these fencing options – what works best is really down to each garden and each client.
For a panel option instead of slats, I would go with a panel called Venetian from Jacksons Fencing and Timber. It is available in varying heights from 0.9m to 1.8m, with slightly wider gaps than the slatted options, and it will fit into those ubiquitous concrete posts very nicely. Of course, this means that the posts themselves are still revealed, clashing with the look of the panels and probably the whole garden – but this is quickly fixed by a single vertical slat (150mm x 10mm) to clad the concrete. With the ugly old concrete magically disappeared, voila, your lovely contemporary look is complete!