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How to Smarten Up a Fence
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Fences are a major feature in many gardens, particularly in smaller ones. Many brand new houses come with close-boarded fences of 1.8 m tall. These can make small gardens seem a bit like a yard. Woven or lap panel fencing is what a lot of people inherit. Although these can be bought fairly cheaply, to replace a whole run of them can add up to a lot of money. And you may not even like them. Whatever your type of fence, you may have one that is basically sound, just looking a bit tired. This workshop gives you some ideas on how to smarten up your fence, adding a bit of you own style to it. This workshop makes suggestions on smartening up uninspiring fences.
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you will need
Wood stain or paint; hammer, nails; trellis; wood battens; screening material of choice.
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step1
Staining or painting are good simple options. There's a good range of colours available in garden paints and stains. New fences that have never been stained or painted before soak up material like blotting paper, so you can use much more than you thought. Stains are designed to let the grain of the wood show through them, so an undercoat is not appropriate. But with paints, giving the fence an undercoat of diluted paint will help to keep overall costs down. Choose a colour that you can repeat in the garden on other timber features such as arches, pergolas, sheds and furniture. Blue/greys look good with plant foliage, and dark or blue/greens. Avoid using a wacky colour that you may tire of quickly.
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step2
You can make you own paint/stain by diluting an interior paint with white spirit at a rate of 1:3. This won't have the same colour fastness or additional preservative qualities of the ready made special garden products, but can work out considerably cheaper. You'll also get an individual colour, and some gardeners like the way that this paint fades a more rapidly, making softer hues. Using a paint pad or roller rather than a brush is a much quicker method of painting a fence.
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step3
Another alternative is to attach trellis panels to the fence. Ready made trellis comes in different shapes and sizes. Some comes ready stained, or in a coloured plastic, which may suit your requirements. You may still want to paint the fence first. In our example, we used fan shaped trellis panels, and attached one to each fence panel. You may want to paint or stain these the same colour as your fence, or use a contrasting colour, for additional impact. Fix them alternate ways up for extra interest. Use small pieces of tiling batten to hold the panels away from the fence. This makes the shadow they cast more interesting, and also allows extra space for any climbing plants to be trained behind. Give concertina, expandable type of trellis a contemporary look. Stretch panels diagonally across each fence panel, from the top of one post to the bottom of the other. Alternating this will give you a design-conscious zig-zag finish. You will have to trim ends off, to give a neat finish. Some concertina trellis comes in different colours too, and this project will be cheaper and lighter to do. Expandable trellis is priced around 5 per strip.
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Another alternative, you can make your own trellis panels and attach these to your fence. You might prefer to use rolls of screening materials. You can buy split cane, peeled reed, willow, split bamboo and heather screens by the roll. Large DIY stores and garden centres stock these, and they are available in a variety of lengths and widths. Choose the material with the texture that most suits your requirements, and the overall style of your garden. Attach the screening to the posts of your fence. Sample materials: Split Cane, Peeled Reed, Woven Willow (great for cottage gardens), Willow, Split Bamboo, Heather.
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step5
Remember, if the fence does not belong to you, install a new set of fence posts inside the boundary and use a screening material to make a secondary, less substantial, fence. See Workshop: How to renovate an overgrown garden.
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step6
Finish fence posts off with post caps - squares of treated timber, slightly larger than the post. You can buy more decorative finials for garden posts in a range of different shapes. Choose one which suits your garden and add these to each fence post. Either colour them the same colour, or give them a contrasting finish.
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A coat of paint or wood stain is a good idea
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Trellis helps you cover the fence with plants
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Different screening materials come in rolls

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