When I took over the garage it was completely open to the road - no fence, no gates. Apparently it had been like this for quite a few years...
The alignment of the road dates from 2006. In that year improvements were carried out to ease the curve as it passes the garage (old maps show it was originally a rather awkward corner - almost a right-angle) and to flatten out the gradient. Before 2006, the bridge over the stream was humped, so traffic went UP over the bridge and then immediately DOWN under the railway bridge - it must have been quite a switchback. I know about all this because a strip of land at the front of the yard was compulsorily purchased to create extra space for the new road alignment, and some copies of the paperwork came to me.
There's now a new, flat, bridge over the stream and the road gains height to it on an easier gradient starting some way back. To achieve this the road level was raised about 1 metre above the level of the yard. To maintain access the contractors built up the yard entrance to meet the new road level. That's when the big Tarmac entrance apron was created, although nobody ever installed any gates. (This was also when the yard was resurfaced with the compacted stone which is now giving me problems with drainage).
There was originally a bank of earth sloping up from the yard to the new, higher, road level - until one of the previous occupants decided to dig it away and build a wall instead. They started the job, but never finished it. They also managed to undermine the pavement a bit, which is starting to crack up along the inner edge. For a long time there was nothing to stop anyone falling off the edge of the pavement to the yard below except that rather soggy bit of blue rope, which I'm told had been there for the best part of 10 years.
I thought I'd better do something about all this.
First, buy some fencing components - which wasn't as easy as you'd think. Because the yard is so much lower than the road, I needed extra-long fence posts, to give the fence enough height from the road surface. And it turns out that only one or two fencing suppliers do that kind of non-standard stuff. And none of them could deliver to the garage itself, because it is located in a zone where SatNavs go to die, or something (the road doesn't have a name, the garage doesn't have a number, and the postcode covers a wide area of similarly nameless roads).
So I ended up getting my fence bits delivered to my home, which was the only address anyone could find. Then I ferried it all up to the garage myself in a rented Transit. You only realise just how short a short wheelbase Land Rover is when you try to load extra-long fence components into one...
Yes, I think I would have had a few problems getting that lot into the back of my Land Rover...
Then it was mostly a matter of digging holes. Which was a surprisingly heavy civil engineering task, since the ground seemed to be mostly rocks. I initially thought I could have the whole fence done in a couple of days. In fact, it took half a day just to hack out a hole to get the first post in. It got down to hammer and chisel work, chipping off one flake of stone at a time.
By the way, the little overgrown patch to the right of the fence post is a mysterious parcel of land that doesn't belong to anyone. It's not part of my yard, and it's not part of the neighbouring property, either. The boundary line divides around it. It did occur to me that if I extended my fence around that bit of land, and nobody objected for a period of 12 years, the land would become mine under the law of adverse possession (otherwise known as squatter's rights).
I didn't do this, though, because if somebody did object that might damage my reputation with the locals as a decent (if rather eccentric) chap. I think a stock of goodwill in the local area is worth more than a few extra square yards of land.
But I'll probably adopt the land unofficially. Plant a tree on it, or something...
Unfortunately I don't have many photos of the fence construction in progress, because my camera decided not to recognise the memory card on the day. I also ran out of extra-long fence posts and had to make one by extending a standard post with an off-cut at the base. This rather awkward corner will be tidied up eventually - I'll rebuild the wall so it angles in and runs on this
side of the post.
I had to make sure the fence was the same height on both sides of the entrance. I'm sure there are all sorts of high tech ways to do this, but I favour the Bit Of String method. Set the opposite posts in place (but don't concrete them in just yet, adjustments may be necessary) and stretch the Bit Of String between them.
Then hold a spirit level up to the string, and that'll tell you if the posts are the same height. I think we can call this close enough for rock 'n' roll.
Here's how the fence angles round to create a pull-in area, so it'll be possible to get off the road when stopping to open the gates. The recommended distance is 5 metres from the edge of the carriageway, but because there's not a huge amount of space between the road boundary and the garage building I didn't want to pull the gate line in too much. So in this case it's about 4 metres.
I did think about cutting little fillets of wood to fill up the gaps where the fence rails run across the posts at an angle, but I decided that would be an over-picky detail on what is, after all, a basic field fence. In fact I think my method of cutting the rails to the appropriate angles to go round the corner is probably a bit picky anyway. I had a look at other fences of this type in the area, and it seems the usual method of going round a corner is just to use two fence posts, one for each angle, thus avoiding having to do anything complicated with the rails. But, of course, you then end up using extra posts...
The main run of the fence follows the curve of the road, and if I say so myself looks quite elegant. This does of course mean that the rails are held in tension, and if the screws ever let go the whole thing could spring apart, probably with a comedy TZZOING!
noise. Fortunately the fence rails were a little curved to start with (I've discovered it's almost impossible to buy any that are dead straight), so they lent themselves naturally to forming the curve.
The view from inside. The difference in height from the yard to the road is obvious in this shot. I did think about adding a fourth rail to the fence, but I think when the wall is built up - finishing the job which someone else started about 10 years ago - that will fill the space at the bottom quite well.
That's most of the fencing done - there's still the section between my yard and my neighbour to do. Part of that will be done with sound-deadening fence panels, just to provide a little insurance against complaints.
I'm going to plant a hedge inside the fence, probably a traditional mixed hedge but with a bias towards hawthorn and holly, just to give me some natural barbed wire. The general idea is to create a boundary that looks traditionally rural, entirely in keeping with the area, and certainly doesn't attract attention by being an obvious hi-security installation - but isn't easy to get through. Once the hedge has grown up it'll provide some privacy, too. The yard will eventually become almost invisible to anyone driving by, and even someone walking by won't be able to see much.
There will be gates, too. Which will be another update...