When it comes to owning or building a house, planning permission is something you expect. But when it comes to garden fences, planning permission isn’t something you expect to face. There are actually rules and laws around what you can and can’t do with your fence and this is known as garden fence protocol or the garden fence law.
Garden fence protocol gives you everything you need to know about your garden fence, from telling you whose responsibility is the garden fence, the maximum garden fence height and what to do if the neighbours fence is leaning into your garden.
Do you know what the garden fence protocol is? Do you know which side of the fence is yours or what to do if you want to fix the fence, but it belongs to your neighbours? We have the answers you need!
As well as going into the garden fence protocol, we also explore types of garden fencing, garden fence costs and also what colour fence makes the garden look bigger!
If you’re here because you have a specific question about the garden fence protocol, this menu will help you to find it:
- Garden fence law UK
- Garden fence cost
- Types of garden fencing
- What colour fence makes garden look bigger?
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Garden fence law UK
Just like most things in life, even your garden fence has a law, cleverly titled ‘garden fence law’. It’s important to know, as any lack of compliance with the garden fence protocol and you could find yourself in a lot of bother, potentially even taken to court – yes that’s right, taken to court over your garden fence!
Garden fence protocol is pretty much the same for all houses across the UK. With this being said, to find the specifics of the garden fence law for your house, you should look in your mortgage deeds or at the land registry document.
Throughout this article, you may notice we change between saying garden fence law and garden fence protocol – they’re the same thing, so don’t worry, not as confusing as it may seem!
Do I have to fence my garden?
This may come as a surprise to you but there’s actually no garden fence law stating that you must fence your garden. However, there are some legal conditions where you must have a garden fence. These conditions are; if you live next to a railway, mine or quarry; or to prevent livestock from entering your garden, should you live by fields with livestock.
Your deeds will give you an idea of the garden fence protocol for your land, with some stating that you require fencing, even if you don’t fit into the conditions stated above. If you’re not obliged to fence your garden, it may still be a good idea, as fences act as a good deterrent to burgulars/unwanted guests and will also help to stop young children or pets from going on an unexpected adventure…
Which side of the fence do you own?
Fence ownership rules can differ and to find the garden fence protocol for your house, you should look in your house deeds or land registry page.
There’s a common myth about garden fence protocol, stating that you’re responsible for the fence on the right side as you’re looking at the front of your house. This, however, is just that – a myth and, as we’ve said, you should be looking in your house deeds for the answer. If the deeds don’t say, then another place to look would be in the ‘Seller’s Property Information’.
It’s important to know where the boundary is when it comes to putting up a garden fence, to ensure it isn’t put in the wrong place leading to upset between you and your neighbour. To find the boundary of your property, check legal documents or the land registry document. If you’re still unsure, it may be best to ask advice from a lawyer.
Whose responsibility is the garden fence?
Similar to what we just said, the responsibility of the fence will be according to the garden fence protocol in your house deeds or land registry document.
You can check for markings around your boundary for ‘clues’ as to whose responsibility the garden fence is. The two different types of markings you may come across are a ‘T’ marking and a ‘H’ marking.
With a T marking, the stalk of the T will sit on the boundary and will come out into the garden who has responsibility of the fence. A H marking will come out into both gardens either side of the fence, showing the responsibility is joint between both properties and therefore any bills and decisions should be split 50/50. You may come across the term ‘party fence’ and this simply means the responsibility of the fence belongs to both sides.
Can my neighbour put up a fence without my permission UK?
According to garden fence protocol, if the fence is inside their boundary then yes. If it’s on the shared boundary, then there needs to be joint discussion and the cost of the fence should really be equally split.
Having said this, even if the fence is within your neighbour’s boundary, it’s common ‘neighbourhood courtesy’ to inform you of their plans to build a fence. Normally, they should put this in writing and give you 30 days’ notice ahead of work going ahead, so you can be prepared for any disruption the building may cause.
How high can a garden fence be?
Garden fence height can differ depending on your local council rules, but general garden fence protocol in the UK is 2 metres high for your back garden. To get a taller fence or add anything on top of it, such as trellis, you will need to apply for planning permission. However, you won’t require planning permission if you wish to add bushes or plants to the top of the fence.
In your front garden, the garden fence protocol for garden fence height is slightly different, with the maximum height being 1.2 metres. The same rule applies for wanting a taller fence though, want a taller fence = apply for planning permission.
Neighbours fence leaning into my garden, HELP!
Regardless of the state of your neighbours fence, garden fence protocol states if it’s not your fence, then you’re not allowed to do any repairs to it, unless you have their permission.
In order to stop your neighbours fence leaning into your garden you will have to ask them to fix it BUT they don’t have any obligation to do so. A good way to hide a leaning garden fence, which complies with garden fence protocol, is to buy some free-standing plants which may help to prop up the fence slightly or at least hide the lean on your side.
Garden fence cost
Your garden fence cost will be different according to the type and style of fence you pick and also how much of it you need. We will go into the different types of garden fencing next, so hang fire on that!
Naturally, if you have a bigger garden or want a taller fence, it’s likely to be on the pricier side. To help you work out how much the garden fence cost will be for you, we’ve found a calculator which you can find here.
Or if you want to get a quick idea now, here we have some estimated garden fence costs, which include hiring a tradesperson, to install timber fence boards into an ‘average size’ UK garden, which is about 15 metres long:
Wooden fence costs:
|Panel type||Average Cost|
|Lap fence panels||£500|
|Feather edge fence panels||£600|
|Slatted fence panels||£600|
|Tongue and groove panels||£1000|
Alternative fence costs:
|Fence Material||Average cost (per foot)|
Statistics from Price Your Job
Types of garden fencing
When it comes to putting up a fence, you have many different types of garden fencing to choose from. Some are better for durability and some are more ‘aesthetically pleasing’. It all depends on the look you’re going for as to what types of garden fencing you feel is best.
Here we have a list of the different types of garden fencing and also some pros and cons for each, to help you pick which is best for you…
Close board/Featherboard fencing:
Close board/Featherboard is one of the types of garden fencing which suits most gardens, whilst being versatile and robust.
- Suits most gardens
- Long lasting and durable
- Meets the maximum height (without planning permission) so makes you feel secure and private
- Good for those wanting to keep pets/young children from leaving the garden
- Requires maintenance, so if it’s not yours, you may have to keep asking your neighbour to repair/upkeep the fence
- Can be expensive to install and also the upkeep adds to the cost
Larch lap panel:
Larch lap panel is another one of the types of garden fencing and is a cheaper alternative to close board fencing. Unlike close board, the larch lap panel fencing runs horizontal rather than vertical.
- Suits most gardens
- Cheaper than close board
- Private and deters burglars
- Good for those with young children and pets
- Not as long lasting as close board
- Maintenance required
Picket fencing gives a more traditional look than the other types of garden fencing. Typically, picket fencing is put around the front garden as there’s gaps between each panel and so doesn’t add much privacy.
- Good boundary marker
- Attractive look – good for front gardens
- Allows in light/ doesn’t block your view
- Smaller so less prone to wind damage
- Due to letting in light, doesn’t provide much privacy or security
- Maintenance required
Slatted fence panels:
Slatted fence panels are another of the types of garden fencing which don’t add much privacy as they have gaps between each of the horizontal panels. A slatted fence does however have a modern and neat look.
- Sleek/tidy appearance
- Horizontal panels can help to make garden appear longer/bigger
- Panels can let weeds grow through
- Gaps in slats mean don’t give full privacy
‘Hit and miss’ fencing:
Hit and miss fencing is one of the types of garden fencing which you can get in both a horizonal and vertical style and is robust, as it allows wind through the gaps in the fence meaning it’s less likely to get blown over.
- Attractive on both sides, whilst offering security and privacy
- Can get vertical or horizontal style
- High maintenance
What colour fence makes garden look bigger?
If you’re longing after a big garden but it’s just not feasible for you, you may be thinking of ways to make your garden look bigger. ‘Should I take up space with plants? Would plants help to hide the boundary? Does the fence make the garden look smaller? What colour fence makes the garden look bigger?’
Of course, there’s no miracle solution. But we can recommend some colours to paint your garden fence, which will help give the illusion of a bigger garden…
Painting your garden fence a dark colour, such as black, dark brown or dark grey, can help to give the illusion of a bigger garden. This is because having a dark fence allows your plants and foliage to stand out and take the attention away from the boundary, giving the illusion of more space.
Although painting your garden fence all bright colours seems like a fun idea, it just draws the eye, making you aware of the boundary size. In summer, brightly coloured fences will catch the light from the sun making them appear brighter, also drawing your eye to them and giving the illusion of a smaller garden.
Another tip which may help which goes beyond deciding what colour fence makes the garden look bigger, is to go for one of the types of garden fencing with horizontal panels. The horizontal lines will help to give the illusion that the garden is longer, helping it to appear bigger.
Can I legally paint my side of neighbours fence?
This will depend on whose responsibility is the garden fence. If the fence belongs to your neighbour, even if it’s only ‘your side’, garden fence protocol states you can’t paint it without your neighbour’s permission. Even though you have the best intentions and you’re trying to make it look smarter, without permission it could be classed as criminal damage.
Whilst you could say painting the fence is to improve the appearance, if your neighbour has specifically said they don’t want you to paint it, then you must respect this. If they state you can paint your side of the fence but not touch their side, if any bits of paint was to end up on their side, then they could get you fined for criminal damage, so make sure you keep this in mind!
If you have joint responsibility of the fence, then you can paint it. However, may want to run it past your neighbour first, as it belongs to you both and they are entitled to their say. In general, it’s best to discuss anything about the garden fence with your neighbour to help avoid any disputes.
BUT, if your problem is you don’t like the colour, or even style, of the garden fence, you’re entitled to ask your neighbour to build it within their boundary. This will then allow you space to build a fence next to it, within your own boundary. You’re perfectly entitled to do this and may help solve a lot of your fencing problems (phew).
Can a neighbour attach something to my fence?
If the fence is your responsibility, then no, your neighbour can’t do this without your permission. If they are to do this without your permission, then according to garden fence protocol, this classifies as criminal damage, and you could pursue them over this. (We recommend asking them politely to remove it first though).
Also, if your neighbours lean something against the fence or hang something on it without your permission, as part of garden fence protocol, any damage that is caused to the panels will have to be repaired, which your neighbour will have to pay for.
Who knew garden fences could have so many rules, so much so the garden fence law was created! Got a story to tell us about a garden fence? Or maybe you’ve got another question for us? Whatever it is, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
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Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You’ll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in. Read more about Millie here.