Fences and Walls

Love them or hate them, fencing and boundary walls are an integral feature of your garden. They offer a number of practical solutions for your property, as well as enhancing your home and neighbourhood. However, before building one, I would recommend you consider the following questions. These will help you to define the function of the fence, so you can then choose the type and style of fence, which will fit those requirements.

Why do I need a fence?
To keep pets and children safe?
Define your boundaries
Reduce traffic noise?
Create spaces within the garden?
To shelter me from the wind?
To keep my pool area safe?

There are also a number of important legal issues to consider, especially if you are building a fence that you share with a neighbour or if you live in an area with a residential zone that has specific fencing rules.

Fencing is covered by the fencing Act 1978 and the Fencing Amendment Act 1979. For a full copy of these acts go to .

Key points to be aware of:
Section 9. Occupiers of adjoining land must share the cost and work on a dividing fence.
Section 10. You can compel your neighbour to contribute to the cost of a shared fence.
Section 11. Allows you to object to an order compelling you to contribute to the cost of a joint fence.
Section 14. This covers how long you have to do the work on a fence after being ordered to do it.
Section 18. Persons taking advantage of a fence. This covers a person benefiting from a fence they didn’t contribute to. They can be charged interest of 10% per year on half the value of the fence at the time of serving a notice.
Section 21. Give and take fence. When occupiers cannot agree on a fence line, the court can decide using a give and take principle.
Section 22. Where the fence is to be built. The middle of the fence must be put on the boundary line, or as near as practicable.
Section 26. About the rights of persons (and their equipment) constructing the fence to go on to the adjoining land.
Please note: It is important to read each section of the act to get the full explanation

Fence design
When choosing the style of fence, it is important to compliment the architecture of house, the surrounding landscape and neighbourhood. Consider matching materials that are used in your home exterior. You are not just limited to traditional materials like timber. Take a look around and you will see a huge variation of fences using materials such as corrugated iron, natural stone and rock, brick, glass, coloursteel, concrete and lightweight alloys. Click here to search for fencing in our directory..

You will also need to consider your budget. There is a significant difference in cost between a timber paling fence and a concrete block wall. If you are on a budget, then a basic timber paling fence painted or left in its natural state and softened with shrubs or climbers is a good solution. Ask a professional landscape designer or architect for their ideas. And get a couple of quotes from reputable landscape contractors or builders before getting started. Click here to search for a professional in your area…

If its privacy you require, then solid materials such as timber boards, brick, stone, concrete, and corrugated iron would work well. In most cases you can build a fence or wall to 1.8m high on the boundary. Anything higher will require a resource consent. You can achieve varying degrees of privacy by using timber in a louver-style or an open slat style or trellis to create a sense of openness. Wrought iron is strong, enduring material that fits in with a number of looks. You can also create a living fence and windbreak using plants. They provide all the benefits of a built fence, with the additional advantage of flowers, foliage and scent. There are a number of shrubs and trees both native and exotic that grow superbly in a number of situations, such as;

Griselina littoralis
Camellia spp.
Pittosporum spp.
Photina ‘ Red robin’
Corokia spp.
Eugenia ventenatii
Podocarpus totora

If security is important to you and your family, then once again opt for a high solid fence. This may give you the feeling of security, however, sometimes it may have the opposite effect. Imagine how much easier it is for intruders to target a house that is not visible from the street or properties nearby. Trellis, wrought iron or glass inserts can provide views in and out of the property, while living areas still remain private. Apparently, having a place that is open, instead of fenced in, is less likely to be broken into, thereby minimizing burglaries. Also, having a high fence around your property can block out valuable light and create shady areas within your garden.

Safety for pets and children
Pets and children need to be kept save on your property. A fence that is solid and well constructed provides an effective solution. The height of the fence is important. Children can easily scale a low fence and dogs can leap over and quickly escape. A solid fence ensures little dogs can’t squeeze through the gaps. Gates will need to be also installed across the driveway and in openings around the property.

Defining boundaries
As properties get smaller and in-fill housing becomes more commonplace, boundaries are firmly declared with fences or walls. Issues with privacy from neighbours have become a common problem for homeowners. Fencing alone does not solve this problem. Clever and intelligent planting can offer some additional privacy as well has softening the harsh lines between homes.

Reduce traffic noise
A wall can help to reduce the noise of traffic if you live near a busy road. The wall must be solid with no penetrations in order to be effective. Any penetration, opening or gate can lessen the effectiveness of the barriers. Concrete walls are preferred but you can use other materials.

Spaces within the garden
Fences or screens give you the opportunity to create and define outdoor rooms within your property They give protection from the weather to provide sheltered entertainment and seating areas . Microclimates can be created for potages or cold sensitive planting themes.

Protection from the wind
High walls or fencing can also act as a buffer from prevailing winds but they do not completely block them out. The wind simply hits the solid fence with full force, surges over and causes worse turbulence on the lee side. However, a slatted screen or spaces left in a wall or fence, allows the air currents to pass through it, reducing its force.

Pool fencing
If you own a pool or spa you are required under the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and Building Act 2004 to erect a 1.2m high fence to completely enclose the pool or spa area. There are a number of other regulations that you must adhere to prevent children entering a pool area unsupervised. Some council’s have additional, differing requirements. I would highly recommend you arm yourself with all the information about pool fencing before you start a landscape project of this scale. There are a range of fencing materials available including glass, wrought iron and stainless steel. The design and finish depends on what you want to achieve. Swimming Pool links…

Sandra Batley is an Auckland based landscape designer.

Sandra Batley Dip LD


  1. william on said:

    I have a tricky question, my drivaeway and my neighbors (abutt) are separated by an old rusty chainlink fence. I want to replace with a 4 ft fence but not sure what will look best – 90 feet of long driveway so a lot of fence. Vinyl is low maintenance but not sure about look. There is little width so a wall or anything wide is out of the question.

    thank you so much in advance

  2. Hi William,

    What is your relationship with your neighbor like? is it really necessary to have a fence at all if there is not much room? Have you considered a single slightly wider driveway or replacing the chainlink fence – perhaps if you email a photo i can have a better look.


    Tim Durrant
    Adv. Cert Landscape design & Construction

  3. william on said:

    Tim- thank you for replying. Relationship is good although likely they will move in a year and have no idea what new neighbor will be like.
    there is literally no room to have a wider structure in the middle as its already a bit tight to get into car on the fence side. (not the side adjacent to the house). Maybe the simple solution is just replace the chainlink with a new gray or black chainlink?

  4. Hi again,
    If you are moving I would simply replace the chain link. If you go for black it will show up any dust or marks easily. There is nothing wrong with chain – its functional and can handle getting knocked about. just use galvanised and let it weather.


  5. Jo Hanson on said:


    Our grass currently runs straight to the side wall of our garage and is about a quarter of the way up the wall. This has caused damp on the garage wall so we have dug out a trench to ground level leaving an unsecure wall of soil with grass on top.

    What options are there to keep the grass and soil in place? I thought of building a wall but this will be quite an expensive option. Can you suggest any other ways?


  6. Hi Jo,

    You can put a damp proof membrane material against the wall this will stop moisture getting into your garage. You can also put a drain between teh wall such as novaflow, pea metal and a geotextile to create a dry cavity.

    There is a PDF here from Brands on the topic and solution –



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