Garden Fence finished with SCS

How to choose your garden fence: Choosing the right fence panels

In the previous two posts in our fencing series we  discussed both choosing the right fence posts and how to set them correctly for your fence panels. In this next part we will be discussing the different types of fence panels and why they might be right or wrong for you. There are many things to consider:

  • Your budget
  • The time and expertise required to erect a fence
  • The purpose of the fence – is it for privacy? or security? or a decorative feature? or both? or to keep wildlife out? or something else entirely?
  • Long-term maintenance of your fence

Depending on your requirements, there may be just one or perhaps several fencing types which are suitable for your needs – hopefully we will have explained the benefits and drawbacks here!

Picket Fences

Picket fences (often called pallisade fences) are easily identifiable by their neat, evenly spaced vertical boards and are generally used as a decorative boundary – most commonly in front gardens. They do not provide privacy but do mark out a boundary clearly and provide a nice aesthetic. They also provide a safe boundary for children and larger pets – although anything smaller than a dog is likely to disappear between the boards! Generally just under 1 metre in height and often painted white, picket fences are easy to install with posts. Picket fences are most commonly made from wood but can now be purchased in PVC for a low-maintenance finish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPicture courtesy of Jim Bauer

Picket fence panels are likely to set you back about £20-25 per panel and are usually 1.8m x 0.9m. You can also get much smaller picket fence panels for use around borders and flower beds but we are concerned mostly with boundary fencing here. Picket fencing is commonly painted in an opaque white finish and we would recommend Owatrol’s Solid Colour Stain as it’s easy to maintain and guaranteed not to peel or flake for 15 years!

Closeboard Fences

Closeboard fences are excellent for providing privacy and are usually constructed with overlapping vertical feather edge boards. Each individual board is nailed to (usually 3) horizontal rails called arris rails and these in turn are supported by notched posts. If you are intending on erecting a closeboard fence you need to know this from the outset as special notched posts must be purchased and set in further apart than for standard fence panels. These fences are strong and usually upwards of 6 feet tall (although you can make them smaller) meaning they are perfect for creating a secure and private boundary. They are most commonly used in rear gardens, especially as many places have height restrictions placed on front aspect boundary fencing (you should check this out in your area before installing a new fence!).

Closeboard fencing can be expensive – especially if you are having it installed by a professional – but kits can be purchased or you can buy ready-made panels for about £130 each (1.8m long). You may also need to buy concrete or wooden gravel boards to put at the base of your fence which can cost anything from £3 – £15 each depending on what you are looking for. all in all this type of fence can become quite expensive but it creates a professional looking finish and as long as it is protected with a good quality wood protection it will last for years and years.

Traditional Lap Panel Fences

This is the most common type of garden fencing and one of the easiest for the novice DIYer to install. Lap panel fences can be purchased in panels and attached to wooden fence panels using 2 or 3 U-shaped post clips per panel. If you have chosen concrete posts then lap panels can simple be slotted in – although if your posts are all up it is definitely a 2-man job to lift them up to the top to slot them in! Lap panel fences consist of a frame with horizontal overlapping boards slotted between. They have a more rustic look than a closeboard fence.

8588641877_0e6206ce32_oPicture courtesy of Armcon Precast

Lap panel fencing is perfect for providing privacy and a secure boundary, it’s also a cost effective option as each 1.8m x 1.8m panel will set you back little more than £20. However, they are not as strong and durable as closeboard fences. Lap panel fencing needs to be raised slightly from the ground or have concrete or treated wood gravel boards placed at the bottom to stop the panels from rotting. We would also strongly recommend treating it with a good quality wood protection coating – whether that be a matt opaque wood finish such as Solid Colour Stain or a more natural look with something like Textrol saturating wood oil which penetrates the wood and protects it from within. If a lap panel fence is not protected from the elements in this way then it will quite become warped, split or even rotten as it is battered by rain and sun.

Composite Fence Panels

There is a growing trend for composite wood fencing as it offers such a low maintenance approach to boundary fencing. These fences are more expensive but require little to no maintenance and are not subject to some of the problems associated with wooden fences. They will not split or splinter and often come with extremely long guarantees (sometimes up to 20 years).

Composite fences are made from composite wood panels and are available in many different styles and sizes. It is likely to cost a fair bit more, perhaps than even closeboard fencing but it depends on the look you are going for and the amount of maintenance you want to do. If you do go for a composite fence, do consider Owatrol’s winning pair of products designed specifically for composite wood. Compo Clean is a composite wood cleaner and de-greaser which will quickly and easily remove any built-up dirt and grease from all composite surfaces. Compo Care is a composite wood reviver designed specifically for protecting and reviving the colour of composite wood surfaces.


Trellis fencing can be used for many different purposes in the garden, for example:

  1. A small trellis added to the top of an existing fence and provide a deterrent for trespassers and burglars as they will not hold the weight of a person and so would collapse – causing noise and damage
  2. They can be attached to the side of existing fencing to provide a place for climbing plants to be trained, creating a softer finish
  3. They can even be fencing in themselves (we will discuss this more, next!)

A trellis is an excellent way to create distinct spaces within your garden or to enclose particular areas. Whilst it’s open nature is not great for providing privacy you can train plants along it to give a more private feel. For example, a trellis panel can be great for hiding your wheelie bins or providing a wind screen for your barbecue – and it’s great for planting too.

It can be purchased in so many different sizes and styles that it’s difficult to give a price. As a rough idea, a fully structured fence panel in a trellis style could set you back about £50 per panel, whilst trellis to put along the top of another fence will be perhaps £15-£20 per panel. Obviously you could pay more depending on the decorative nature of what you want. Generally though,  it’s of more use within the garden rather than around it for keeping things in or out!


There are many different types of natural screens you can buy for your garden and with the exception of hazel hurdle panels they are mostly useful for creating enclosed spaces within your garden as they do not provide a lot of security. They are great for providing privacy and they create a lovely aesthetic but they are not strong. some examples are:

  • Reed screens with metal frames which are moveable
  • Bamboo screening (often sold in rolls)
  • Brushwood screening for a rustic country look
  • PVC Screening – durable and easy to maintain (also often sold in rolls)
  • Fern or willow screening

These screens need to be secured to an existing fence or wall, or supported with posts or rails. They are quick to install and can provide instant privacy and protection from the wind. Do be careful though as they are not robust and can be easy damaged.

Hazel Hurdles (or willow hurdles as are often used instead) are a form of screen but are also often used as fencing to create a rustic, country look – particularly for cottages and rural houses – and are available in different heights. They are quite expensive at roughly £90 for each 1.8m x 1.8m panel but can be easily erected by simply using a mallet to hammer the little poles into the ground – as such they can also be easily moved so are great for providing a temporary divide which can be later removed.

7655508504_c0a7361e1a_oPhoto courtesy of PapaPiper

Decorative Fence Panels

If none of those took your fancy, there are an endless number of different types of decorative fence panels, from curvy tops to castle styles you’re bound to find something right for you – do be aware though that these can be costly!

Next time we’ll be talking about how to erect a standard lap panel fence, hold onto your hats!

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

9 thoughts on “How to choose your garden fence: Choosing the right fence panels

  1. Hi – I have a badly faded up and over garage door in moulded fibre glass – can any of your products help restore it back to its rich dark brown colour grained wood look it arrived 15 years ago in! Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Bernard,

      Firstly apologies for the delay in response, your message was for some reason caught in our spam filter. We have the perfect product for your project. Polytrol is a colour reviver which restores pigments faded by UV exposure and its prefect for use on fibre glass. You can simply apply it with a cloth and rub it in!

      Hope to have helped,
      The Owatrol Team

  2. Low concrete posts, about a metre high and drilled for wire already installed.
    Can I replace the wire with wooden fence panels using such posts?

    1. Hi Geoff,

      Unfortunately we cannot advise you on this matter as it would depend on your fence panels of choice, what the posts are like etc. We would recommend speaking directly with whomever you are planning to purchase the panels from to ascertain compatibility.

      Apologies not to have been of more help,
      The Owatrol Team

  3. Hi, I am installing a New Pine gates (untreated) and also a new Cedar fence (using untreated Western Red Cedar P.A.R. 20 x 145mm P.A.R.) I want to seal the Cedar fence using your Textrol Hes – Clear – single layer wood protection. I want to try and match the Pine to this finish would you have any ideas?

    1. Hi Stuart,

      I have passed your enquiry to the technical team and will have an answer for you as soon as possible.

      Many thanks,
      The Owatrol Team

    2. Hi Stuart,

      The technical team have produced Textrol HES in our Cedar Tone which we usually only make in standard Textrol for you if you would like to purchase a sample of it to test. This would be our recommendation to get your woods to match. If you call us on 01582 592707 and explain who you are then our office team can process your sample purchase for you and if you’d like afterwards to purchase a full amount of the product you again would call the office and they will process it for you as it isn’t currently a standard product. We will make it up for you if you’re happy with the finish.

      The Owatrol Team

  4. Dear Owatrol Team

    We have ite a small garden – 50ft x 65 ft – and some very keen young footballers and wonder if you could advise us as to which fence is most likely to survive enthusiastic young strikers missing the (large and netted) goal?
    If not – just advice for the strongest most robust type of fence will do. We need 5 7ft x 7ft panels along the back of the garden (i.e. behind the goal).

    Many thanks
    London NW2

    1. Hi Alison,

      We are not providers of fencing per se so you may be better asking a fencing company and then coming to us for help with protecting the fence. However, I would personally suggest a closeboard fence which, although more expensive than lap panels, is likely to be stronger and last longer with your budding footballers.

      Hope to have helped,
      The Owatrol Team

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