Wood is a fantastic material. It’s malleable, durable, and attractive, too – which makes it perfect for building an enormous variety of structures. Were it not for this material, it is doubtful that civilisation would even be possible.
Today, wood is still used extensively throughout the home and garden. But for all this material’s strength, it still requires a little bit of care in order to prosper. This is particularly so if a wooden structure is exposed to the elements. Fences are particularly vulnerable – both sides are exposed to rainwater, and in high winds they can act like sails, and be uprooted.
This winter has been a notably mild and wet one – with Wales, Scotland and Cornwall experiencing a series of damaging floods and high winds. In such conditions, a little bit of extra care can go a long way. In this article, we’ll see just what that care might consist of.
We’ve already touched upon the possibility of a fence being uprooted. Thanks to their large surface area and relatively light weight, fence panels are vulnerable to high winds. But if you’re to wake up after a storm and find your garden and the surrounding area littered with panels, the point of failure will likely not be the panels themselves, which are placed under very little stress, but the posts which fix them into the ground.
Wooden posts are vulnerable to rotting, particularly those sections that are placed in the ground. This damage will occur over a long time, and be invisible from above ground. This means that you won’t notice that there’s a problem until it’s too late!
One might solve this problem by using posts of a superior quality. A concrete post will obviously be able to withstand a great deal more punishment than a wooden one. But they’re generally more expensive, and the look might not be one you’re after. But not all woods are equal in strength – a hardwood might be able to last a great deal longer than a softwood before it fails.
A compromise comes in the form of a wooden post that’s surrounded beneath the earth by a concrete shield. This will hugely limit the amount of rot, as well as grounding the fence. One common way of achieving this is to dig a small hole, place your fence post inside and then fill it with concrete. But this, to be sure, is labour-intensive; it requires that you mix cement and dig holes. One might instead purchase a ready-made concrete base, and thereby erect a series of posts with ease. These supports come equipped either with a two-foot spike, which can be driven into the earth with a sledgehammer, or a bolt which can be used to attach them to a nearby wall.
Each of these solutions will be available from any good builders merchant in Wales.
We’ve already considered that moisture might weaken your fence. But moisture is also essential for growing a healthy, attractive garden. Since flowerbeds are often placed immediately besides fencing, and will require regular watering, this can present a dilemma. How can we keep one watered and the other dry? The answer lies in judgement.
Don’t water excessively near your fence. If you’re going to be using a sprinkler system, then make sure you do so sparingly. If you saturate the earth with water, then the chances are that your fence will suffer.
Of course, one thing we can’t control is the weather. That’s why you’ll need to ensure proper drainage around your fence. Pile the soil slightly higher around the base, in order to ensure that water flows away.
Some varieties of plant will try to climb your fence. This might look attractive, if the growth is carefully controlled, but the effect on the lifespan of the fence will certainly be deleterious.
In order to help your fence to look its best, you’ll need to periodically apply preservative. A good-quality sealant will provide ample protection against rainwater. A wood-stain will do the same job, but will alter the colour of the wood, too. Select whichever you think will look best in your situation – any timber supplier in north wales will offer both, and a lot more besides.
Before you apply your preservative to your fence, it’s important to give it a good clean and dry. This will prevent any blemishes from being trapped beneath the preservative, and ensure that your fence comes out of the process looking as good as can be!