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Sustainable eco Fencing - Explore our top tips

We examine why choosing sustainable eco fencing is both good for you and the environment and discuss some of the areas for consideration when choosing a fence or gate.

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Explore the topic of sustainable eco fencing with Jacksons

Why choosing sustainable eco fencing is both good for you and the environment

Virtually every one of the near 20 million homes in the UK has some form of fencing or gate marking its boundary and in virtually every case, these fences and gates are constructed from timber but this does not necessarily mean they are considered as sustainable eco fencing. Timber is a hugely important, organic construction material, recognised for its versatility and durability. It is widely used across a range of different applications, from residential garden boundaries to commercial premises, and as such it is necessary to consider how responsibly we use this resource to ensure its longevity.

With so many different options available today, when it comes to choosing fencing and gates, making a positive decision to select a sustainable, environmentally-friendly product is more important than ever.

Not all timber is the same, so it makes sense to know more about what you’re buying before you make that all important purchase commitment, after all a large part of the cost in replacing or installing a new fence or gate is the installation itself. This rings true whether it whether it ultimately lasts for 5 years or 25 years (even if the fencing is from sustainable sources).

Opting for higher quality materials is a good place to start. This article is designed to help you navigate through the maze of things you should consider when opting for eco-friendly, sustainable fencing, and to help you make a final decision about whats important to you when choosing your next fence or gate.

Quality materials last longer

Sustainable fence materials make the difference

There is some confusion when it comes to the subject of sustainability and the recognised certification programmes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Products marked as certified to either of those programmes can prove that the timber used has been checked at every stage of processing and come with the reassurance of a complete Chain of custody certification which of course is great for implementing sustainable forest management practices around the world, the protection of endangered species, reducing the effects of climate change and the longevity of forests for future generations.

However, some manufacturers use certification to an environmental chain of custody as an indication of the quality of a product / material or its fitness for a purpose. The two are entirely different and should be considered as such when you’re selecting a garden fence or gate.

It all starts with using the right species of timber for the purpose, before it’s preservative treatment, design and construction details. Get all of these elements right first then the FSC or PEFC certification has a more meaningful context in that the best use has been made of the timber; as a product that provides a long life means less deforestation.

Use quality components

Another important factor which impacts on a product’s design life and the sustainability of the material it’s made from, is to be just as selective about how it is constructed and to make sure that the quality of the components attached to it are of equal quality.

For example, the components used to fix the timber fence boards to a fence or gate and attach the capping rails or gravel boards to it should last at least as long as the timber used for the fence or gate itself. Unless more expensive stainless steel or hot dip galvanised fixings are used, the useful life of the entire fence or gate is compromised as the fixings will rust-out long before the timber itself fails. A single 6-foot Jacksons Premier Lattice panel uses approximately 350 individual stainless steel screws in its assembly which ensures the long-term structural integrity of the panel. And protecting it against harsh weather conditions.

Always choose vacuum pressure treated fencing - it’s the sustainable option

The other important factors which impact on a product’s design life and the sustainability of the material it’s made from is to be just as choosy about how it is constructed and to make sure that the quality of the components attached to it are of equal quality.

For example, the components used to fix the timber fence boards to a fence or gate and attach the capping rails or gravel boards to it should last at least as long as the timber used for the fence or gate itself. Unless more expensive stainless steel or hot dip galvanised fixings are used, the useful life of the entire fence or gate is compromised as the fixings will rust-out long before the timber itself fails. A single 6-foot Jacksons Premier Lattice panel uses approximately 350 individual stainless steel screws in its assembly which ensures the long-term structural integrity of the panel. And protecting it against harsh weather conditions.

which is the better option when it comes to sustainable fencing?

What are the pros and cons for softwoods versus hardwoods

With approximately 8% of the worlds forestry properly managed, the future of the environment is largely is your hands. It’s a big responsibility which we all share, but what choices are open to us? The list below explores some of what is on offer when it comes to timber fencing and gates.

Softwoods vs hardwoods

Different timber types: softwoods

Softwood is a product of coniferous trees and options include - pine, fir, spruce, yew, larch and red cedar. The different species of softwood display different levels of resistance to rot, decay, and insects attack.

Softwood is typically produced in plantations or sustainably maintained forests in Northern Europe, North America and New Zealand, although it is commonly found in most temperate regions.

  • Low cost - 75-80% of the world’s timber is softwood and as such is readily available.

  • Faster growing with a low footprint - softwood species are faster growing  than hardwoods meaning the that the same area of land produces more usable timber

  • Easier to manufacture -  softwood timber species like pine, cedar, larch and spruce are easier to machine and manipulate so require less intensive and expensive manufacturing processes

  • Low cost - less expensive than hardwood, even if FSC or PEFC certified

  • Softwood when pressure treated with the correct preservatives are safe to humans, animals and plants. It is typically safer than composite products such as plywood, MDF and particle board, that often contain resins, and safer than some hardwoods that can cause irritation or allergic reactions.

Different timber types: hardwoods

Hardwoods are a product of deciduous trees and options include - alder, ash, beech, oak, maple, walnut, teak, iroko and mahogany 

Hardwoods are considered challenging to grow sustainably compared to their softwood counterparts. For example, hardwoods like beech or maple have to be very carefully managed, grown and harvested in the correct manner though it is possible to grow them sustainably.

Due to their slow growth and relatively high cost to transport and process, hardwoods are typically more expensive than softwood.

Pros for Hardwood:

  • Highly resistant to decay - and naturally resistant to rot.

  • Very durable - this species of timber is resistant to tension and rotting. If damaged they can be restored.

  • Recyclable - often used as fuel or for wood chippings.

non-timber fencing options

what are the Other options?

Over recent years, metal and composite materials have emerged as fencing and gate materials in Europe, ranging from aluminium to recycled plastics.

Colour coated aluminium or steel fence panels can lend a contemporary feel to a space and are both strong and durable. However, they tend to rely on the quality of their coatings to provide resistance to oxidisation or rust and are typically, significantly more expensive than timber as they are energy intensive and costly to manufacture.

If you’re looking for materials with low environmental impact, vinyl (PVC or polyvinyl chloride) has to be discounted as the manufacturing process creates harmful dioxins and the material itself suffers from leaching toxic chemical stabilizers when in ground.

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