Did you know that if you put in a fence, you need to give your neighbours the best side to look at? To be sure of the entente cordiale with the next-doors, make sure that any new fence line is marked out and shake on it.
So what materials should you look out for? Slough off the timber and posts supplied by the usual builders merchants and weigh up the merits of three woodland products. The first is woven hazel or willow - willow woven in situ is perhaps the most sinuous and alluring of all fencing. www.naturalfencing.com
Next: contemporary slatted trellis of thin horizontal batons will give a lean cool feel to any town garden. www.gardentrellis.co.uk
Lastly, woven panels of oak from Quercus in Somerset. A fencing material that is fabulous to look at and wins on the longevity stakes. The oak weathers to a silvery grey and does not need treating. For all, there are ready-made panels or bespoke: adjust your cheque book accordingly and choose.
You may opt for a hedge instead. The sophisticated and orderly town hedge will be of either yew or beech, the absolute aristocrats of formal planting : they both look great kept clipped, make a strong winter presence and provide a dramatic planting backdrop.
Where you really want max on security then look for invasion-proof plants. I recommend a thorn-riddled and and prickly hedge mix of prunus spinosa, dog roses and hawthorn. Throw in a few pryracanthas for good measure. Rosa seagull does the best repellant job amongst the climbing roses.
THE COUNTRY GARDENER
Here is my advice for the cold month of February: set about annexing the surrounding countryside. The old trick is the borrowed view. Is there is an alluring landscape that the hedge is obscuring? Cut a hole so that you can see out. Are the tangled lower branches of a dusty old tree cutting out horses in the pasture, a blue-view of woodland and hills? Prune judiciously to bring the acres beyond into your garden. Perhaps not your land by deed, but you will assume virtual ownership without any of the boring responsibilities.
For the truly grandiose project with grazing cattle in a parkland setting, put the haha on your shopping list. By the device of a hidden ditch the garden seems to stretch seemlessly into the fields beyond. There is absolutely nothing as glorious as a large flock of Jacob sheep or White Park cattle looking as if they will bust in to trample the immaculate lawn and rose bushes and rattle on the sash windows with their munching breath and tinkling horns. The construction need not be prohibitively expensive. Clever new technology means that stretches of brick wall can actually be made of imprinted concrete.
Garden spaces should be made with a sense of humour and originality. Put the Romeo and Juliet seat into yours.
Post christmas girth lingering? Download a garden calorie counter chart with gardeningforhealth.com