7 Tips To Protect Your Fence
Installing a fence is not a cheap project since timber is not the relatively inexpensive product it was fifty years ago. Whether you installed your fencing yourself, or whether it was there when you purchased your property it makes good sense to take care of it.
In winter a considerable amount of damage can occur to a fence and it is often not noticeable until the spring, since you are not out and about in the yard. Therefore it pays to ensure that your fencing is protected in the fall.
I always check my garden fencing in the spring and again in the fall. After a long hard winter I need to know that frosts followed by thaws haven’t damaged the fence posts. This can easily happen if the fence posts are not set deep enough as the frost penetrates the ground and then the thaw can weaken the soil surrounding the post. Where I live, fence posts need to be set three feet deep in order to be below the frost line. If you installed the fencing yourself you will know how deep the posts go, but if not just make that twice yearly check.
Another tip is to ensure that the base of your fences are kept free from leaves, debris and so on. If you leave them at the beginning of winter they can trap moisture around the bottom of the fences, again causing damage to the timber.
At least once a year stain the fencing with a preservative. It’s probably a matter of opinion, but I like to do mine in the spring after the annual winter battering. That way the fence looks good all summer when I’m in the yard. Summer rains won’t really hurt it, since there are many days when it can dry out. And at least I know it’s done for the year. If you leave it until the fall there may be a few times when you can’t do it because of poor weather or other interruptions and suddenly it’s winter and you can’t get out to do it anyway.
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Something that many folk don’t think about is overhanging tree branches. If you have a branch that snaps off during a storm, or simply falls because of old age and the timber is dead, it can do devastating damage to quite a large section of your fence panels. A heavy snowfall can put a lot of weight on a branch and if it is high there is not much you can do about it. This won’t affect trees that lose their leaves in the fall so much, but conifers can be a problem. It pays to check trees and prune out dead wood or overhanging branches. Even a small branch falling from a height can do quite a lot of damage.
If any fence panels are damaged during a storm, then make sure that you replace them as soon as possible. Fence panels blowing about in the wind can loosen posts very quickly. Think about how it feels to stick your head out of a car window when it is travelling at even 40 miles an hour. Then remember that even a moderate gust can achieve this quite easily, so be prepared to fork out more money if not fixed quickly.
Termites can be another problem. Redwood, pine, cedar and fir are all softwoods that can be attacked by termites and unfortunately they are often used for fencing. If the base of your fences are kept free of soil then you shouldn’t have a problem since termites require moist soil. If you should happen to find termites attacking the base of your fencing then you can use borax as a poison. It is a natural insecticide and is not nearly as toxic as alternatives.
Finally, try to keep plants from growing up your fences. It may well be that you are a plantsman and want fencing merely for the protection it affords from intruders and to prevent passers by from peering into your yard, but on the inside you don’t want to be looking at a fence because you love plants. However, a vine – for example – using your fencing for support can add considerable weight, especially when it rains. If you want fences for protection, but plants for their aesthetic appeal, then consider installing chain link fencing six inches inside your wood fencing. Any climbing plants will scramble happily up this covering it in no time. This way you will get the best of both worlds.
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