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fence with ivy

The Importance of Fences

American poet Robert Frost is credited with saying that “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Fences serve many purposes. They provide privacy. They keep the dog in the backyard. If you have a pool in your backyard, a proper fence keeps kids from coming over for a swim. A safety fence around the pool itself also keeps younger children from making an unsupervised dash for the pool, which could have tragic consequences.

So, if you have dogs, kids, a pool, or like a bit of privacy, you likely have a fence. Today’s topic is how to keep that fence in proper working order, for as long as possible.

The most common fences are made of wood, so that is where we will focus our attention. Even most vinyl fences are generally built by sinking wooden posts in the ground, putting a vinyl sleeve over that post, and then linking vinyl panels to that sleeve, so some of this also applies.

The first thing to remember with a wooden fence is that wood rots. Vines and ivy on the fence will hold moisture, keep it from drying out, and accelerate its demise. Similarly, bushes and shrubbery growing next to, and against, the fence will do the same. If you love that wall of honeysuckle on the back fence then certainly enjoy it, just know it is destroying your fence.

The first place most fences show damage is at the ground. Wooden fences should have a bit of clearance at ground level. A few inches are fine, just keep the dirt and mulch from touching it. Mulch is often the culprit, as it is spread in gardens right up against the fence, retaining moister and rotting the bottom.

Soils in the greater Jacksonville area are often fairly moist. Some yards are not much above sea level and heavy with clay. In these conditions, posts will eventually rot out. Always use pressure treated posts rated for “ground contact”, but nothing lasts forever in moist soil. Be prepared to replace some posts over time.

Last, but not least, is maintenance. As limbs fall from trees and create damage. As posts rot out. As gates pull posts over and start to drag, you will want to fix these things as you go along to keep your fence in the best shape possible.

Most people take care of these issues themselves, but others look for help. If you are in this latter group, know that it is difficult to get the attention of fence companies for small repair projects. They want to refence your yard, not repair what you have. Many homeowners report better luck contacting local maintenance and repair companies for fence repair. Know that Mr. Handyman Serving Greater Jacksonville would be happy to do your fence repair projects if needed.