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Building privacy - fence or dry stone wall?

The top of our sloping garden has a week, low wire fence about low enough to step over. There's no hedges or shrubs for privacy. Other side of the boundary is a footpath that is well used. When it's used we see them in most of the garden and there can see in. Or neighbours have established shrubs, hedges or one case high fence.

We're considering a fence or a dry stone wall. There's plenty of such walls in the area and our borders have them as retaining walls. I think walls would fit. Fences too as there's a fence halfway up splitting upper and lower garden (formal and wild). I like horizontal hit and miss fencing, grew up with them there great for kids to climb on and we've got an 8yo. I like the walls and have done a bit, not well but good enough, in the past.

What do you think makes the best choice? How much is the cost difference? It's the wall about twice as much as the fence to get installed? Fence would need posts and wall needs footings. Not cheap job but you've got to pay to get things right I guess.

Wall or fence for slope top boundary?

PS it's on the edge of a rural village in South Cumbria near the Lancashire boundary if the area makes any difference. It's an AONB too. Would that have any implications with getting plans checked or permission?


  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,671
    From what I have just been reading, a dry stone wall that is 6’ high will need about 5 tons of stone for every yard of length. That is a huge amount of stone to buy, store and transport up to the top of the garden. Though, done properly, a dry stone wall will look great, a hedge or fence will be much simpler and much, much cheaper.
    Rutland, England
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,839
    edited May 2021
    Have a look at Cornish stone hedges ... roughly speaking, they're a low stone wall built hollow with soil inside and some have a hedge on top ... @Lyn can describe them better than I can.  

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,681
    I would go hedge, beech or hornbeam depending on your soil.
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • LynLyn Posts: 23,190
    This is what you need to achieve, it’s not cheap, in fact it’s very very expensive, it’s not a job you can do yourself, unless you’ve  been trained,  piling a load of stones on top of each other is not the way to go.
    You can plant the hedge of your choice in top,  we have laurel and buddlias in one, just for privacy, but an English natural hedge looks good, although bare in the winter, they look lovely in the summer.  Whatever you choose, they need a lot of water to get growing as it’s so free draining. 

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,944
    From what I've just been reading, dry stone walling can cost anything from £100 to over £200 per square metre depending on type of stone, amount of prep work required and labout to build.  Wooden fencing will be around 1/10th of that cost.  There is also ongoing maintenance of either to consider.
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,671
    We’re having a stone wall built, the stonemason arriving tomorrow. It’s limestone mortared not a drystone wall and is 35’ long x 6’ high. It’s a mix of expensive limestone and even more expensive ironstone but to give you an idea of costs just the stone alone is a touch over £7000. I expect your local stone is somewhat cheaper.
    Rutland, England
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,006
    As I understand it @NorthernJoe is up on the edges of Cumbria or thereabouts so he needs to have a chat with a local farmer about who can build him a dry stone wall.  Good way to boost local incomes and keep skills.

    Failing that a nice spiky hedge such as hawthorn to keep out unwanted intruders and also protect small critters.  Mix it up with a sorbus, hazel, holly, hornbeam to provide a range of foliage, nectar and berries for wildlife.

    If you go for a fence, go for rigid mesh fence rather than wood or even stock fencing which will provide support for climbers such as honeysuckle and dog roses or lovely thorny pyracantha which is evergreen and has a long season of interest from blossom to berries.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • NorthernJoeNorthernJoe Posts: 660
    There's a few hedgelines up this way with the hedge on top of a dry stone wall. Not quite the same as the wall is likely a retaining one up here. Mind you I like that idea.

    5 tons of stone? All by hand? That'll cost to say the least. Mind you the footpath is owned by the local farm and technically is a track. I guess a landy pickup could get a lot up there. When I've helped a pro waller in Wales he used his landy pickup to get stone to the wall. I did say help but that's being more than generous. I think we slowed him down. Judging by the length we helped him with and what he'd done a day later. Or it this way the next day need re-done our bit and about three plus times as long as well in the one day on his own. Pro wallers are amazing to watch. From the humping of huge rocks high up the wall that four of us couldn't lift far to the ability to simply see where rocks fit without the moving around and trying of other rocks that we did.

    Looking at it again. There's laurel like shiny leafed shrubs and a square chain link fence with I think hazel and hawthorn trees. The laurel type shrub is small but a couple bigger reach end. Totally wrong for creating privacy quickly. The trees have started growing around the fence, merging together. Need to sort that. It does mean those trees and shrubs would need reviving with the wall option. Hedge is probably better as only the 3ft high laurels would go. Hedges won't give privacy for a few years. We want privacy quickly while our son is 8 not 16.

    BTW I loathe beech hedges. There's one opposite side of the road separating the road with the private road next to it. I don't like the leaves rustling the way they do. They're the ones where the leaves stay on until new growth right?

    So I'm wondering whether temporary hurdles with a hedge planted inside. I must admit a double planted hawthorn/Blackthorn hedge with the established hawthorn and hazel trees as specimen trees in the hedge. It's possibly not as private but long-term better. Plus hedgehogs in the area can get through easily along with other animals. It is a nature garden up there afterall.
  • NorthernJoeNorthernJoe Posts: 660
    Forgot to me mention it measures almost 18.5m length of boundary. That's about 10 fence panels. 2 more than i guessed.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,006
    hedges can be fast.   We planted a hawthorn hedge along part of the boundary in our last garden as a windbreak.  It grew 6' in its first year - young whips well planted in a decent trench improved with manure and garden compost then pruned to 9"/23cms.

    We then cut it back to 3' to encourage it to thicken, which it did - and still grew 6' tall.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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