Enclosing the patio will not only give you privacy, it will also give a great deal of shelter. If your patio faces the sun, an enclosure will act as a sun trap, allowing you not only to lie in the sun yourself, but to grow a variety of tender sun-loving plants.The simplest way to enclose a patio is to put up a six foot high solid wooden fence, either with wooden panels or with featherboarding.
The Closeboard (Featherboard) Fence
You need 8 foot long fence posts, sufficient to have one every 3 yards, timber rails 3 inches by one inch and sufficient for the fence to have two rails the whole way round, enough gravel board to go right round and the featherboardsthemselves. The fence posts are concreted into the ground, the rails are nailed horizontally to the fence posts and the featherboard nailed vertically to the rails. The gravel board goes under the featherboarding along the base of the fence and prevents the featherboard rotting. This gives a long-lasting fence of pleasing appearance against which you can train climbing plants.
The fence will have a structural side, showing the rails, and a completely smooth side of vertical featherboarding. Traditionally, and for reasons of courtesy, the structural side faces inwards, giving your neighbours the smoother side. This has the added advantage that the fence cannot be climbed from outside.
Put in the fenceposts by digging postholes at least 2 feet deep. Use a posthole digger, which you can hire, to do this. You may need to lift the patio slabs to dig the holes.
Put some hardcore into the bottom of the hole and put in the first fencepost. Check that six feet of the post are above ground and that the post is vertical â€“ check this with a spirit level. Ram more hardcore round the post, leaving about a foot of hole to fill with concrete. Fill the hole with concrete. You can buy a ready-mixed fast setting concrete designed for fenceposts at any DIY store or you can mix your own on a sheet of plywood at the rate of 1 part cement to 5 parts ballast. Mix the cement and ballast thoroughly before adding just enough water to make it cling together â€“ this is not a pouring concrete such as you use for floors. Use a round heavy stick, about four unches in diameter to tamp the concrete down round the post. The concrete should be built up slightly above ground level and should slope up to the post.
Put in the other fenceposts, making sure that they are all level. Nail the first rail horizontally along the posts on the outside, two inches from the top of the posts. Nail the second rail along the bottom of the posts, a foot from the ground. Nail the gravel board along the bottom, under the bottom rail. Ideally the gravel board should be just clear of the ground to allow a little ventilation, but it can, if you prefer, rest on the patio slabs.
The framework of the fence is now ready for you to nail on the boards. Again, you must work from the outside. Featherboards overlap each other so that there is no space whatsoever between the boards. Make sure before you start that you are working in the right direction â€“ the boards have different left and right sides. They are nailed onto the rails using two nails for each rail. Check every board with a plumb line or spirit level to make sure that you are keeping them vertical. You may need to cut the last board to shape. The fence will need little maintenance once it has been erected. Fence posts, rails and featherboarding have usually been treated with preservative before you buy them. If they weren't, you will have to paint the fence with preservative. The fence should occasionally be re-treated, every five or six years unless you live in an unusually wet climate.
To put up fence panels, you follow the same procedure for putting in the posts, except that you do not put in all the posts at once. Put up the first two posts and then fit the panel between them by nailing it, with skew nails, into the posts. It would also be wise to fit the panels high enough to leave space for a gravel board below them. This will prevent the bottoms from rotting and prolong the life of the fence.