Garden Fence Maintenance

Updated November 21, 2016

Maintaining your garden fence can be a challenge because of the constant watering and dirt, especially if the fence is made of wood. But there are a few tips you can take to make the fence last longer and look great year-round. Make a schedule to keep up with your fence while you keep up with your garden.

Wood Fences

Wood fencing provides the most challenges when it comes to maintenance. The most common problem with wood garden fences is wet rot. The fact that plants retain moisture in the surrounding soil and the need for the water for the plants means constant water around fence posts and low rails. To maintain this wood and prevent the rot, there are a few steps.

Make sure posts and rails are sealed with a wood sealer, stain or paint. This needs to be done at least once a year and should be done in early spring before the watering on a regular basis starts. The wood should be inspected again in the fall to make sure it is still sealed well for the winter weather.

Another maintenance tip is to crown all the posts. The posts should already be encased in cement under the ground level. To crown the post add cement at the ground level to a few inches up the post and trowel the cement out sloping it down and away from the post. This will keep water from pooling around the post and preventing it from rotting.

Plant your flowers, bushes or vegetables away from the posts to help the wood last longer. Plant in rows or sections, where the base of the plants is not directly in front of or along the sides of the posts. Normally, the foliage will still keep the posts out of sight but will not hold the water or totally keep the sun from the post, giving it a chance to dry out each day. If you have climbing plants on a trellis or wood fence, be sure to clean and seal the wood once a year as the plant dies out.

If you have not erected the fence yet, look into ipe, a Brazilian hardwood that is dense and resistant to decay. Once a year sealing is all that is needed. Another great option for garden fencing is bamboo. Not wood, it is a grass and highly resistant to decay.

Metal Fences

Metal fences may be aluminium or iron. Aluminium does not rust and can just be washed when dirty. There are paints made for aluminium so you can make it any colour you desire. Once a year painting with intermittent cleaning is all that would be needed. Iron does rust but is strong and can be decorative. Keep it coated with a high gloss paint made for metal, such as Rustoleum. Inspect the fence every other month or so and touch up with the paint if you see any rust beginning to form. Then, you will need a total coat once a year and monthly cleaning is all the maintenance you should need to perform.

Vinyl Fence

Vinyl fencing is the easiest by far to maintain. The new PVCs on the market today are physically and environmentally stronger than ever before. The only maintenance this fencing needs is a good cleaning to keep it looking nice. Use a natural soap cleaner in a bucket of water and scrub brush to scrub any dirt or algae growth and rinse with a garden hose. This type of fence was made with low maintenance in mind, and it is truly easy to care for.

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