Giving your garden a makeover can enhance your property, increase the functionality of your outdoor space and even boost the value of your home, but where should you start?
As garden fencing represents the boundary of your property, it’s a sensible place to begin your garden redesign or refresh. When you replace or modify your garden fence, you can change the entire feel and look of the exterior of your property, so it’s a great way to give your garden a fresh, new appearance.
However, there are some things you’ll need to bear in mind before you make any changes to your boundary and the first question you should ask yourself is: how high can a garden fence be?
What’s the Maximum Height of a Garden Fence?
UK homeowners are allowed to install a garden fence up to two metres in height without requiring any additional planning permission, however, this depends on your local regulations. For fences located around listed buildings or in environmentally sensitive areas, the maximum height is usually higher. Before starting any work, it's always best to check with your local authority.
In the UK, there are strict regulations regarding how high a garden fence can be (and these are regularly enforced, so ignore them at your peril!).
The first thing to note when wondering how high a garden fence can be is where the fence is and what it adjoins.
- If your garden fence is next to a road, pavement or other public highway, the maximum height it can be is 1 metre.
- For garden fences that are not next to a road, pavement or other public highway, the maximum height is 2 metres.
In general, this means that back garden fences can usually be a maximum height of 2 metres, whereas front garden fences are required to be 1 metre or less. However, this does depend on the layout of your property so double-check what the restrictions are if you’re unsure.
Remember – if you’re lucky enough to live in a conservation area or a listed property, additional rules may apply.
Why Are Garden Fences Height Restricted?
Many people want to erect a tall garden fence that gives them more privacy and increases security, so why are there restrictions about the height of a garden fence?
This is because your garden fences can affect how neighbours are able to use or enjoy their property. If you were to put up a 3-metre garden fence, for example, this could block light to your neighbour’s home.
When it comes to fences that are next to a road pavement or public highway, the 1 metre height restriction is in place for practical and safety reasons. Drivers and pedestrians need to have a clear line of sight when walking or driving, for example, and a fence that is higher than 1 metre could prevent them from seeing potential hazards.
I know I’ve often struggled to get a clear view of oncoming traffic when people’s garden fences or shrubs are too tall, so it’s easy to see why this restriction is in place.
Can You Put Up a Taller Garden Fence?
If you want to put up a garden fence that exceeds the maximum limit, you may be able to do so but you’ll need to apply for planning permission first. This involves submitting an application to your local council, outlining the work you’d like to carry out and explaining your reasons for it. Then, the planning application will be made public so that potential objections can be recorded, and the council will make a decision either to grant or deny your application.
It is possible to apply for retroactive planning permission if you’ve already erected a fence that exceeds the 2 metre or 1 metre restriction. However, it’s important to be aware that the council can issue an enforcement order that requires you to tear down the fence if planning permission isn’t granted.
Failing to apply for planning permission before installing a garden fence that exceeds the maximum height limits can be a costly and time-consuming mistake, so don’t risk breaching the regulations and hoping for the best.
What About Fence Toppers and Trellises?
Fence toppers and trellises can be a great way to enhance garden fencing and they offer practical and decorative benefits too. A trellis can be used to support climbing plants, for example, while a fence topper can give you a little more privacy and act as a decorative feature.
It’s easy to assume that you can add a fence topper or trellis to an existing garden fence and that it won’t be included in the height calculation (I know I certainly believed this) but, unfortunately, this is incorrect.
When the height of a fence is measured to determine if it’s in breach of height regulations, any fence toppers and trellises are included.
So, if your back garden fence is already 2 metres high, you won’t be able to add a topper or trellis without breaching the regulations or applying for planning permission.
What I did to overcome this was to erect a mid-size back garden fence that was 1.5 metres in height and added a fence topper than measured approximately 0.4 metres. This took the total height of the fence to 1.9 metres, which meant it was well within the height restriction guidelines.
Can You Modify a Garden Fence?
Making changes to your garden fencing can be a fab and easy way to enhance your outdoor space but don’t be too quick to start making changes. As well as height restrictions, you’ll need to find out who owns the fence before you make any modifications.
In the UK, it’s common for homeowners to own the fencing on one side of the property and their neighbours to own the other but this isn’t always the case.
Check the deeds of your property or the Land Registry to confirm who owns the fencing.
In some instances, neighbours may even be jointly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a shared garden fence, which means you’ll need to work together to decide how to modify or replace it.
Property disputes between neighbours can be a major hassle and no-one wants to fall out with the people they live side-by-side with, so be sure to check who owns the fence and get permission from your neighbours if they own the fence or share the responsibility of maintaining it before you make any changes.
What Materials Can a Garden Fence Be Made From?
The material you choose for your garden fencing can have a massive impact on the look and feel of the space – and there are plenty of options to consider, including:
- Standard wooden fencing
- Horizontal wooden fencing
- Metal garden fences
- Picket fences
- UPVC or plastic garden fences
- Composite fencing
Each type of material has its pros and cons, so do your research before you make a decision.
When you’re putting up a new garden fence, don’t automatically replace like-for-like. Instead, explore all the options that are available, and you may find fall in love with a style you hadn’t previously considered.
I loved the idea of using reclaimed wood to create a rustic-style garden fence, for example, but I’d never have thought of it unless I went searching for garden design inspiration.
Can You Install a Garden Fence Yourself?
Well, that depends on your DIY skills! It’s certainly possible to install a garden fence yourself, providing you have the tools, time and talent to do so! (As it turns out, I did not…)
Putting up a new garden fence might seem like a relatively simply task but it’s more complicated than it looks. Firstly, you’ll need to remove the existing garden fence and dispose of it appropriately. Then, you’ll need to use pegs and string to mark out where the fence will be.
Pro Tip: If you’re erecting a new fence, be sure to use a scanner to check for underground pipes or wires first!
Once you’ve marked out where the posts will be, you’ll need to dig the holes and use concrete or an alternative fixative to hold them in place. Remember – if you don’t dig the holes deep enough, your fence might exceed the maximum height restrictions, so it’s important to get them right.
While putting up your own garden fence might seem like a good way to save money and enhance your DIY skills, it can become a nightmare in reality. From wonky fenceposts to mismatched panels, there are endless things that can go wrong, so it’s often best to call in the professionals.
Things to Consider Before Installing a Garden Fence
Replacing or modifying a garden fence is a popular way of enhancing a property but there are things to consider before you make a start. Here’s a quick recap of things you’ll need to do:
- Check who owns the fence
- Get permission from neighbours (if you need to)
- Check local height restrictions
- Apply for planning permission (if your new fences are higher than the regulations permit)
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to proceed with the fun part! Choosing your materials, selecting a fence style, finding the best paint, (pro tip - use a fence paint sprayer for maximum results!) and even decorating your garden fence can be an exciting way to update your outdoor space, so get the practical and legal aspects out of the way first and then you’re free to begin your garden fence makeover!