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6 ways to maintain your garden fence

A fence is a core element of most gardens. Not only does it act as an aesthetic feature, but it’s also there to provide the outside of your home with security and privacy from neighbours and the public.

The most common garden fencing choice here in the UK is a timber fence. With a natural-looking appearance that can be painted or stained, fences can be effortlessly worked into the landscaping design of any garden.

Plus, timber fences are available in a huge variety of panelled or closeboard options, giving a great degree of choice when it comes to choosing a style that appeals to the space and budget you have to work with.

fence maintenance

The importance of fence maintenance

When looked after well, a timber fence can last for years and provide your home with a secure surround.

However, the fence is a part of the garden many forget to look after. This means that more often than not, a fence has to be replaced or repaired before its true potential shelf life is up.

There’s no denying that stormy weather and strong winds can have their part to play, but with a little bit of love and attention from time to time, you can keep your fence looking its best, and help to guard its vulnerability to the British weather, including unexpected gusts of wind.

Whether you’ve just installed a new fence and want to keep it looking fresh and new, or simply want to know more about how to save costs and time associated with fence replacement in the long run, we’ve got some easy and quick tips for garden fence maintenance.

What should I be doing to maintain my fence?

1. Fence post-maintenance

fence with concrete fence posts

The posts act as the core, grounding element of the fence, keeping the panels or boards in place and the entire structure secure.

When timber posts start to crack and rot, the structural integrity of your fence becomes compromised.

Every now and then, it’s worthwhile checking in on your fence posts.

  • Inspect each post, giving them a wobble to check their stability
  • Take particular care to keep an eye out for rot at the bottom of the posts
  • Look for any signs of damage or deterioration including rotting, splitting or crumbling

If you spot any splits or cracks in the post timber, replace the post as quickly as possible to avoid further damage or rot spreading to the rest of the timber fence structure.

Top tip: if your garden is prone to high levels of ground moisture, consider concrete or Durapost instead of timber posts on installation.

2. Inspect the fence for loose nails or staples

fence post with loose nail

Even the best-built fences can get loose screws and fixings – it’s only natural as the wind creates movement across the structure causing screws or nails to loosen.

It’s important to keep an eye out for loose screws or nails and fix them straight away.

Not only can they be dangerous to gardeners, your family, and pets, they can also cause structural issues, which left unnoticed could result in parts becoming damaged or loose when the wind picks up.

3. Fence cleaning

fungi on fence before cleaning
It may seem that cleaning your fence helps to keep your garden looking clean and tidy. However, regular cleaning, either with a jet wash or hose, is a key part of fence maintenance because it helps to support the longevity of your fence structure.

Start by brushing away any cobwebs with a light brush, before hosing down to get rid of any moss, fungi, dirt, or bird poo that has built up.

It’s best to do that on a warm sunny day, so that your fence has time to dry if you’re planning on applying a fresh coat of paint or stain. It’s a perfect summer garden job!

Top tip: If your fence has lots of fungi, you can also use a mixture of water and vinegar, with a stiff brush, to scrub away green stained-on fungi.

4. Apply a fresh coat of paint, stain, or treatment

painting garden fence

This brings us onto maintenance tip four – painting and staining.

When you apply a coat of paint, stain, or treatment, you provide the timber with an extra protective layer from rot and decay-inducing elements.

This will help preserve the timber, protect it from weathering, and keep the fence looking in ship shape.

There are a number of options to choose from.

Painting of course will change the visual appearance of your fence, whilst protecting the timber.

Stains and treatments will often enhance the natural appearance of the timber, whilst creating a protective layer.

Painting or staining your fence isn’t something that you need to do too often. Every couple of years will do the trick, however cleaning before you do this is essential.

Without a good scrub and wash down, you’ll simply be trapping any dirt or fungi under the fresh coat.

Top tip: Try to remove any flaking paint for a smoother finish.

5. Trim back the vegetation growing around your fence

lattice top fence

It’s normal to have shrubs, hedges, plants and flowers in close proximity to your fence. In fact, often these natural features play a big part in the garden’s landscape design. But, you just need to be careful and keep an eye on how your foliages and plants are affecting the fence line.

Trim back any plants that are growing over or through the fence to help to stop splits and cracks from forming in panels or between closeboards.

This includes trees, shrubs, and climbing vines. Not only does this improve the appearance of the fence, but it also helps to prevent damage from overgrown plants leaning on the fence.

Top tip: If you like the idea of decorating your fence with climbing plants and flowers, opt for a lattice top fence. This will give your florals a space to grow under direct sunlight, without affecting the core structural components of the fence.

6. Don’t use your fence as a leaning post

quality fence

It’s often tempting to lean a bike, wheelbarrow, or garden tools against your fence, but when these items get forgotten about, over time they can structurally damage your fence.

If you’re struggling for storage space, consider how a shed or a cleared space in a garage could work for you.

Wondering whether it’s time to get a new fence?

If your fence is damaged beyond repair, it may be time to think about getting a new fence. If you’re not sure, you can find the 6 signs to look out for here.

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