High winds are incredibly destructive. A storm with strong winds can pack quite the punch, causing damage to your home, property, yard, and fence.
While many homeowners take steps to safeguard their home from high winds, securing their fence tends to take the back burner. Yes, it’s true that a fence is particularly susceptible to incurring damage during strong storms, so some homeowners might question whether it’s worth putting in the extra effort (and expense) to protect it.
Let’s put it this way – a fence is an investment, and investments are worth preserving. When constructing your fence, you can take precautionary measures to prepare your fence to withstand high winds. If you already have a fence in place, you can follow a few simple recommendations to give it a fighting chance.
New Fence Construction
Are you planning to build a new fence? Before you break ground, it is important to do some planning. You need to lay out your fence line, select fencing materials, determine the placement of your gates, and more. Amongst your to-do list, do not forget to plan the position and depth of your fence posts.
Every sturdy fence begins with strong posts. For high wind areas, you need to carefully consider the spacing between each post, how deep those fence posts go into the ground, the length of each post, and what material should be used to secure the posts.
SPACING: In general, fence posts are placed six, eight, or twelve feet apart. What your fence is made of impacts the spacing. For example, a high tensile wire fence consisting of high carbon steel can manage just fine with posts placed further apart.
As for a wood fence, spacing the posts too far from each other will compromise the strength of your fence. You need all the structural integrity you can get for a wood fence to survive high winds. While eight feet apart is acceptable, six feet between posts is even better.
DEPTH: Posts act as anchors for your wood fence. High wind puts a significant amount of pressure on your fence, especially straight-line winds or large gusts.
If your goal is to build a fence that doesn’t uproot during a wind storm, you need to place your posts a minimum of three feet down in the ground. The deeper into the ground, the more security they can provide.
LENGTH: Depth and length go hand in hand. A short post can only go so deep, and a long post can stick up beyond the height of your other fence boards. The key is to measure the length of your post and submerge at least one-third of the entire post length into the ground.
SETTING: What should you set your posts in? Concrete, crushed rock, gravel, or just dirt? There are pros and cons to each option, and depending on the type of soil, some choices might not be the ideal setting. It’s all about formulating a strong foundation that will stand up against high winds.
Furthermore, you can consider using posts made of different materials to achieve your preferred setting. Let’s say you want to set your posts in concrete, but do not want to deal with rotted wood stuck in cement years down the road. The solution could be to select rust-proof posts such as aluminum or stainless steel. A wood fence does not have to have wood posts.
Already-Installed Fence Improvements
How can you limit wind damage to an already existing fence? Just because you are not installing a new fence does not mean you should give up on mitigating the chances of damage. No one wants to deal with a fence board flying through a glass window in the middle of a torrential downpour.
While the suggestions below may seem basic or even obvious, they often get overlooked when life gets busy. Unfortunately, there is no replacement for regular upkeep. You get out of your fence what you put into it.
STAIN: A coat of stain is 100% necessary if you are trying to maintain a wood fence. When you apply stain to your wood fence, you prevent it from breaking down, deteriorating, rotting, cracking, and splitting.
Some homeowners may put off staining their fence due to the expense. When you consider the cost of replacing an entire fence that is ruined in a storm, the price of stain doesn’t seem too much.
PESTS: Keep an eye out for insect infestations. Even if your wood fence seems untouched, pests can still be eating away at the innards.
Certain insects like to burrow inside the fence boards, hollowing out the wood from within to create a place to lay their eggs. Once those eggs hatch, the larvae add to the damage by munching on their surroundings. A fence board without its insides is asking to be broken.
MAINTENANCE: A fully-managed fence is stronger than a partially-maintained fence. Wind loves to find weak spots and exploit them.
You give your fence the best chance of holding up against a wind storm when the entire fence is properly maintained. If you have a few broken boards, switch them out. If you have rotted wood panel fencing, replace it.
Before the Next Storm
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work your fence needs to be wind storm ready?
Create a to-do list and tackle one item at a time. Each step you take toward mitigating wind damage could be the difference between a completely destroyed fence and one that weathers the next storm.
If you want some professional guidance, contact a wholesale fence specialist for advice on the best materials and building practices to build a strong fence.