4 Tips on How to Protect a Wood Fence in Winter

how-to-protect-a-wood-fence-in-winterWinter brings many threats to your wooden fence. If you don’t want to have a big mess on your hands in the spring you’ll have to keep an eye on the situation, especially during our harsh Wisconsin winters. For example, according to CLR Search, Shorewood, WI in our service area sees an average of 47″ of snow each year, more than enough to become a concern for your average fence.

Fortunately, a little routine care can help with the situation. Here are some threats to your wood fence when the snow is falling, and what you can do about them.

Prevent Moisture Build Up

Winter snows expose your wooden fence to excess moisture. Unlike a rainstorm in warmer months your fence won’t get many warm days to dry out. In particularly harsh winters you won’t get any warm days to work with.

Winter snows can expose your fence to the usual suspects: mold, mildew, and rot. If you take the time to stain your fence properly with a good oil based stain before the winter months come, however, you’ve won half the battle.

During the winter you’ll want to make sure you keep the spaces between your fences clean. Fallen leaves, debris, and snow can trap additional moisture where the wood is weaker.

Prevent Warping by Using The Right Kind of Wood

Temperatures don’t just take a steady plunge during the winter time. They rise and fall just as they do in any other season.

The extreme cold and the sudden rise in temperature can cause the wood to expand and contract at a rapid rate. This can create knotholes in your fence.

Knotholes aren’t just unattractive, they’re also places where pests like to hide. Furthermore, knotholes exacerbate pests.

Fortunately our Northern White Cedar fences don’t create knotholes easily, especially if you’ve treated them with stain. There’s not much you can do about this except choosing the right wood to build your fence with in the first place.

Prevent Shifting Soil

The soil beneath your fence can shift when the frost thaws causing your posts to shift. Your fence posts can also loosen when the soil shifts. As a result of this shifting soil, the entire structure of your fence can be compromised.

When we install fences, we put our posts 3 feet under ground to ensure we get past the potential frost line. By doing this deep, you eliminate any worries of your posts shifting or getting loose during the spring thaw.

If you didn’t go deep enough, you’ll want to check your posts in earlier spring. Make sure they’re staying stable and straight.

You can run a string along the top of the fence to make sure it’s still level. If it’s not you’ll have to get your fence posts repaired. We do repairs in early spring, but only when the weather is warmer than 25 degrees as it’s nearly impossible to work with cement when temperatures are extremely cold.

Keeping the cement footings of your fence free of debris, dust, and dirt can go a long way as well. It can keep additional moisture from getting trapped next to the concrete, eroding it.

Prevent Falling Limbs

As snow overloads tree limbs they can break, snap, and fall. If they hit your fence they can do structural damage.

The best defense against this is to trim your branches back before the winter ever starts. However, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the situation throughout the winter months just in case.

Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, winter damage does happen. If you find any boards or posts that are damaged you should take steps to repair them as quickly as possible so that they don’t ruin your entire fence. If you need a fence repair or replacement, call us for a free estimate! (252) 251-6766.


  1. Like the rest of the yard, a wood fence can easily become neglected during the winter months. By keeping up on these basic maintenance practices, however, you can minimize winter damage to your fence and prevent further problems in the spring.

  2. Thanks for the tips. Winter can be destructive on fences, and all the problems you mentioned aren’t uncommon. I think your tips will go a long way to prevent potential problems during wintertime. Exterior fences just don’t last very long. When you paint it, you should make sure to use a water sealer. This will postpone a lot of damage, but you’ve still got to maintain it every year.

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