How to mend a fence - and really make it your own

Argh, the fence fell down. My neighbours and I had two days of golden bliss with newly laid lawn either side of the bloody thing, then kaput. Now the broken bits are leaning up against their house and I am halfway through digging a hole to take out the far-too-substantial foundations. (Well, far too substantial where the fence post was buried below the surface of the soil so it could rot.)

Fencing is not just an urban preoccupation: anyone who's ever seen ITV's Neighbours from Hell knows that boundaries make lawsuits, making great television. Our original fence went up in pursuit of a bit more privacy, but I could now fall into my neighbours' garden if I so much as momentarily lose my footing in the open-cast iridium-style mine I have created trying to get to the bottom of the apparently bottomless concrete. They say they don't mind, but I can't help thinking they probably do.

I could call the guys who did it originally and yell at them, but this time I'm determined to do it properly, myself. There are plenty of fencing products available at your local DIY shop, and some of them are more useful than others. I know this because I put up the fencing in a different bit of the garden and it's still standing 16 years later.

Metpost post-holders, in heavy-coated steel to make them rust-resistant, were invaluable (and only £6.98 from B&Q diy.com). Mine are set in concrete – a "narrow concrete collar" as the official advice puts it. And after years they still don't wobble, though they have a huge Clematis montana and a rose "Albertine", both in rude health, weighing them down.

Another useful delight is a post level (£4.49, screwfix.com), a dinky little spirit level which rests on the top of a holder or post, letting you keep your hands free for moving the post into position or banging it with an enormous mallet.

And when you're freaking out about the David Dickinson-like colour of the new fence panels, reassure yourself: there are plenty of shades a new fence can be painted, most of which can be watered down to an acceptable level of neutrality (choose a water-based tint such as Ronseal Woodland Trust, and mix half and half with water).

After that, you get the treat: debating which plants will clothe the boundary. Fast-growing and beautiful? Consider a passion flower, often described as "rampant" (try Passiflora caerulea, £9.99, crocus.co.uk, above in white, with the purple morning glory "Star of Yalta"). Your main task after the first growing year will be cutting out the messy stems of deadwood to keep it looking nice.

But the truth is that the horrible bit of the job is just getting the broken stumps out of the soil, along with their enormous concrete boots. You can comb the internet for as long as you like, it turns out, and there's no short cut, bar a trip to Travis Perkins to hire a breaker (from around £35 a day, travisperkins.co.uk). Fencing contractors, I curse you all.

Fence frills

1. The scent

Ask my neighbour what she's looking for in a fence plant, and she'll tell you: evergreen, not too rampant, fragrant and flowering all summer long. For a wonderful summer scent, put in a star jasmine. £12.49, crocus.co.uk

2. The climber

Campsis is suitable for a shelt ered urban south-facing fence. Orangey-red flowers in late August give a totally tropical feel. £19.99, crocus.co.uk

3. The danger

Keep heavy plants such as ivy off fences. Its weight increases annually and will eventually take the whole fence with it; keeping it under control to start with is greatly preferable

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence