How to Protect a Garden Fence

Fences keep children and pets in the yard. They can also add a decorative element while defining your property line. However, wood fences do require some maintenance. As soon as your new fence is installed, you should take steps to protect it and prolong its life. Even if you inherit a fence that's been in place for years, timely maintenance can make a big difference between an attractive, long-lasting fence and a fence that will soon need replacing.

Add a protective finish. When you have a new fence put in, be sure to seal it with a wood preservative (available at home improvement and hardware stores) within a week or two. This lengthens the life of the wood by protecting it from the weather. You can buy wood preservatives in clear coat or coloured stains. Alternatively, paint the fence with a primer and paint.

If your fence has flat surfaces on the top of the posts, consider cutting them at angles. This helps the water run off more easily, which may slow down rot. Or, place metal caps on your fence posts.

Prevent sprinklers from watering the fence. The wetter the wood gets, the faster it will rot, so adjust sprinklers so they water your lawn and plants---not your fence.

Keep plants away from the fence. If you allow vines to grow on the fence, or let plants live near the base of the fence, the wood will rot faster because of the moisture necessary to irrigate the plants. Vines or bushes may also put weight on the fence, which can break it down faster.

Move leaves, grass clippings and other debris away from the fence. If such debris piles pile up at the bottom of your fence, they will trap moisture, which will lead to fence rot.

Repair as needed. Deal with loose or broken boards as soon as possible, adding fresh nails or screws or replacing entire boards. Keep an eye out for signs of rot and replace any rotten boards promptly.

Clean your fence once in a while. A quick washing with a pressure washer will keep away moss and grime, which could lead to rot. Or, use a broom to brush away debris and rinse with the garden hose on a hot day.

Reapply wood preservative or paint about every two years. If you splash water on your wood fence and the water absorbs it quickly, making the wood look darker, it's time to add new preservative. If paint is beginning to peel or chip, scrape the wood and apply a few coats of fresh paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood sealer or paint
  • Pressure washer or broom
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About the Author

Kristina Seleshanko began adult life as a professional singer and actress, working on both the West and East coasts. She regularly sang jazz in nightclubs, performed in musical theatre, and sang opera and pop. Later, Seleshanko became the author of 18 books, and has written for such publications as "Woman's Day," "Today's Christian Woman," and "True West." Seleshanko has also been a writing coach, a research librarian for "Gourmet" magazine, and a voice teacher.