With such a huge selection on offer, it would be tempting to think that choosing a timber or metal fence panel design is easy whether your decision is based on style, height or any other criteria. However, because there is such an impressive range, you might find several high quality panels that meet your needs, so this guide is to designed to ensure you buy a panel that's exactly right for the job.

Contemporary Grey Fencing

Timber fence panels are available in a number of styles from contemporary to rustic, and to a large extent, it's subjective which one you eventually choose. Lap and featheredge remain very popular due to their practicality and while certain panels, for example, those with a woven pattern, add decorative characteristics to their functional nature, they may be no more secure or built to a superior standard to plainer alternatives.

The majority of panels are 6ft wide and they are available in heights from 3ft to 6ft. Although a natural timber finish remains most popular, other colours are available and you can, of course, stain them in any shade you prefer. Most have a straight top or you can opt for a dome-shaped panel, and many have complementary gates and matching accessories such as a trellis or finial.

Whether the panels are dip treated or pressure treated should also make a difference, their appearance is very similar but the former will need a preservative to be applied annually and the latter will generally be guaranteed a longer life span but they are usually more expensive.

Forest And Rowlinson Timber Fencing

Forest and Rowlinson are the leading manufacturers of fence panels, they both offer a large selection of all heights in a number of styles. 3ft high panels are useful for marking boundaries in an attractive fashion and can also be used as an insert to enhance the appearance of a brick wall.

Picket style 3ft fencing is a familiar sight from cottage gardens to cricket pavilions, a variation would be 'Hit and Miss' with the panels alternately mounted to create a screen and there is no lack of other styles with lap, featheredge, tongue & groove, woven and diamond patterns represented.

Grosvenor Screen

4ft fence panels present much the same choice but in addition, you have added options of the domed top and diamond trellis of the Forest Europa Prague and Rowlinson Grosvenor woven panels as well as the slatted tops of their Europa Kyoto and Langham ranges. Forest also manufacture panels in other styles with a domed top but no trellising.

A similar selection is available if you want a 5ft high panel but the choice in style and appearance broadens significantly for 6ft panels where Forest Trade Lap, dip or pressure treated, is the market leader at the 'value for money' end of the scale, sturdily built, highly practical and easy to install, it is a perennial bestseller.

Forest's Premier and Superlap fence panels provide a more robust alternative while Rowlinson has their own budget panels in the same styles. Any of these products will provide a cheap, long-lasting solution to any fencing problem, and you can be reassured that, although keenly priced, they are manufactured by market-leading companies who specialize in timber garden products using FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood.

From the functional to the more decorative, there are trellis topped and domed styles similar to the 5ft versions, with the added advantage that the Langham and Halkin can be obtained in 3ft widths together with Rowlinson's Sorrento which is pre-painted in grey and is also available with an angled upper half suitable for an end piece.

Noise Reducing Fence Panels

Palermo fence panels from Rowlinson are again painted grey but they incorporate concrete or opaque plexiglass infills to add contemporary interest. Their Bradville, Strasburg and Finedon panels are particularly attractive woven styles with a dome top, and willow hurdles will help create a garden ambience that is appealingly rustic.

Finally, Rowlinson's horizontal or vertical slatted panels used as screens, together with matching planters, can transform any patio into a quiet haven, especially if Decibel Noise Reduction Acoustic Fence Panels from Forest line your garden boundary, as their innovative triangular interlocking tongue and groove design reduces extraneous noise from passing cars or noisy neighbours by up to 30dB.

Burbage Metal Fencing And Railing

So much for timber panels, let's now concentrate on metal fence panels and railings manufactured in Staffordshire by Burbage Iron Craft. These can effortlessly add elegance as well as security to your garden when used as either free-standing fencing, railing inserts or to add height to a brick wall

Made from high-quality steel, the metal is galvanized and has a black powder coating to resist any chance of corrosion. All the required fixings are supplied (but not posts) and you have the choice of both classic and contemporary designs.

Gaelic Railing

'Off the peg' metal fence panels are 6ft wide and depending on the design can be 1ft-4ft high, but one of the great advantages of metal fencing is that most designs can be made to measure and are available in 'tall' versions up to 7ft in height and from 1ft to 6½ft wide.

The most popular designs such as Manor Ball which features delicate ball finials and Saxon with its royal fleur-de-lys are available in the widest choice of sizes, as fencing or railing, and also made to measure fencing to your own requirements.

Other styles including Classic and Regent Scroll may only be available in a particular size but most like the Gothic-inspired Abbey and the spear-shaped Balmoral can be both a choice of certain standard sizes or bespoke, and the handsome roundel and heart-shaped Edinburgh design is only made to measure.