Fencing your site

Part of your land preparation activity for planting trees is getting fences set up. The type of fencing you need depends on your terrain, what you’re planting and what you might be trying to keep away from your trees.

Before you fence your site

There are things to you need to think about before you put in a fence:

  • Do you have a natural boundary?
  • Are you planting near an existing fence line or modifying your borders to where you want to plant?
  • Are you upgrading an existing fence to make it stock proof?
  • What are the costs and benefits of different fences?
  • How long do you need to protect your trees? You may only need temporary fencing.
  • What access do you or contractors need to your site?
  • If you’re planning on harvesting, consider how you’re going to harvest your site.

Is fencing the best option?

Fencing might not always be the best choice. For example, you might find the cost of fencing is better spent on effective pest control.

When you should fence your site

Fencing is important to keep animals you are grazing yourself, such as sheep and cattle, away from browsing (eating) your seedlings. It can also be effective at stopping other animals, such as deer and goats, from damaging your trees.

You should fence before you begin planting. This will give your seedlings a better chance of establishment and survival.

It may be possible to run a temporary fence until your seedlings are at a height where they will not be damaged by browsing.

Planting native species

If you’re planting natives, it is critical to fence as these are especially prone to browsing.

Where you should fence

Build your fences:

  • straight up hills rather than around them
  • up and down ridgelines
  • following logical boundaries
  • in favourable weather conditions. For example, too wet and posts might move plus it's harder to use machinery, too dry and it's more difficult to dig.

Do not fence where your animals have got higher ground on one side so they can jump over it.

Waterway fences need to be far enough back to allow for flooding.


Build logical size gateways for your needs. Think about what vehicles or farm machinery you need to fit through. For example, do you need to get in and out for maintenance or do they need to be large enough for harvesting equipment to get through?

Allow enough space for vehicles to turn into the paddock.

Place your gates where your stock naturally runs. For example, gateways in paddock corners are normally easier to shift stock through than gates in the middle of a fence line.

Types of fencing

Your fencing type will depend on what animals or pests you need to keep away from your trees. Common fence types include:

  • Post and batten – good for sheep and cattle. Also used for boundary fencing. It is strong and secure but expensive and labour intensive to erect.
  • Electric – good for dairy cows. Cheaper, easier and faster to erect but not as secure and does not last as long as a post and batten fence.
  • Wire netting (about 1 metre high) – good for sheep or young stock.
  • Post and rail – good for horses.
  • Deer netting – good for deer and goats.

Predator fencing can keep everything out by using 5 millimetre mesh and curved guards but is extremely expensive to erect.

Boundary fence

Boundary fences signify the legal boundary of your property and minimum requirements are defined under the Fencing Act 1978.

Reach an agreement with your neighbour as to the type of fence and how costs will be shared. If you want a better quality fence than the minimum specified under law, then you may have to meet the additional costs yourself.

The Ministry for Primary Industries commissioned a report in 2016 which has the regional costs of the different types of fencing.

Not sure on the best type of fence?

If you do not know what fence will work best for your site do some research and talk to people. Find out what works for them and what does not.

Getting the right fence may cost more upfront, but it can work out more cost efficient in the long run. Get good advice before you start. It can be costly and you want to get it right the first time.

Farm supply stores and fencing contractors will be able to offer you advice. Other places you can go for information include Lifestyle Block and DairyNZ.

Fencing maintenance

Regular maintenance will extend the life of a fence and fences are cheaper to repair than replace. Regularly check your fence lines for:

  • broken or loose wires and battens
  • any solid posts that have moved, lifted or broken
  • any rusting on post staples (you may need to pull some staples out to check this)
  • holes in netting
  • shorting out of electric fences
  • broken electric insulators.