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Ottawa’s Winter Shield: Top Tips for Seasonal Maintenance of Your Wood Fence


As the crisp autumn air begins to hint at the arrival of winter in Ottawa, we’re reminded of the preparations needed to protect our homes and properties before the snow arrives. Among these tasks, preparing your fence for the upcoming cold season is often overlooked.

Having served the Ottawa area as a trusted residential and commercial fence company for over two decades, we have witnessed the toll that our distinctive winter weather—characterized by freezing temperatures, substantial snowfall, and ice accumulation—can exact on fencing materials and structures.

Properly preparing your fence for winter not only helps it to withstand these severe conditions but also prevents the need for premature costly repairs or replacements when spring arrives.

Our experience has equipped us with valuable insights into the best practices for fence maintenance during the colder months. This guide is designed to provide you with practical advice on protecting your fence, whether it’s made of durable pressure-treated wood, classic cedar, or any other material.

By following these recommendations, you can ensure that your fence remains a sturdy and appealing aspect of your property throughout the winter season and beyond. Let’s dive into how you can prepare your fence for the upcoming winter, safeguarding your investment and maintaining its beauty and integrity.

1. Inspect Your Wood Fence Before the First Snowfall

The winter season brings with it a unique set of challenges for fencing, as the accumulation of snow and ice around and atop the fence can add significant weight and stress to its structural integrity. This additional burden can strain joints and foundations, potentially leading to damage or deformation over time.

Before the first snowfall arrives, take a comprehensive look at your wood fence. Identify any pre-existing damage, loose boards, or signs of wear and tear. Tackling these issues before winter sets in ensures that minor problems won’t escalate into premature or costly repairs due to harsh Ottawa winter conditions.

2. Clear Debris with an Ottawa Winter in Mind

Keep the area around your fence’s base free from debris, leaves, and any vegetation. The cold and wet seasons can cause organic matter to decay, creating a perfect environment for wood to rot prematurely, or metal fences to rust.

Moreover, clearing away this debris is not just about maintaining the fence’s structural integrity; it also plays a vital role in pest management. During the colder months, pests are on the lookout for warm and sheltered spots to settle in for the winter. The accumulated leaves and vegetation around your fence can offer just the kind of refuge these pests are seeking. By removing these potential hiding spots, you’re taking an important step in preventing unwanted guests from making a home in the nooks and crannies of your fence.

Clearing the fence base will also provide an opportunity to better inspect the areas near the ground for any signs of wear or damage, allowing for timely repairs that can prevent more extensive issues down the line. Adopting this simple maintenance task can significantly contribute to the durability and aesthetic appeal of your fence, ensuring it stands strong against the challenges posed by Ottawa’s distinct winter climate.

3. Apply a Protective Sealant

The freeze-thaw cycles characteristic of our winter weather are particularly harsh on fencing materials. As temperatures fluctuate, materials expand and contract, leading to cracks and weakening, especially in less resilient materials.

Consider a fresh coat of sealant to shield your wood fence against Ottawa’s winter moisture. This not only enhances the fence’s appearance but also acts as a barrier against the damaging effects of Ottawa’s snow, ice, and rain.

We recommend consulting with the professionals who sell these products and taking great care in following the directions for application and conditions (temp and weather) to get optimal results.

4. Trim Overhanging Branches to Safeguard Your Fence

Winter storms in Ottawa are notorious for their heavy snowfall and ice accumulation, which can put a significant strain on trees, leading to broken branches. These branches, if not managed, pose a risk to your property, especially your fence, as they can break off and fall due to the weight of the snow and ice.

To safeguard your fence from potential damage, it’s wise to proactively trim any branches that overhang your property. This preventative measure not only minimizes the risk of branches breaking under the harsh winter conditions and damaging your fence but also helps maintain the overall health of the trees. By removing vulnerable branches before the winter sets in, you ensure that your fence remains intact and secure throughout the season, saving you from unforeseen repair costs and keeping your property safe and well-maintained.

5. Protect Your Fence from Salt and Ice Melt

If you use salt or ice melt on your Ottawa property, exercise caution regarding its proximity to your wood fence. These de-icing substances, while effective for ensuring safety on icy surfaces, contain corrosive elements that can harm the wood, leading to deterioration and damage over time.

Take great care when applying the de-icer or consider establishing a protective barrier between your fence and areas where salt is applied. Alternatively, exploring non-corrosive de-icing solutions can provide a safer approach to managing ice, without compromising the integrity of your fence.

6. Snow Removal Techniques for Your Fence

When handling snow removal near your fence, it’s important to carefully consider the placement and method of snow disposal.

Piling or pushing snow against your fence is a common mistake that often results in considerable damage, especially given Ottawa’s harsh winter conditions. The weight and moisture content of accumulated snow can weaken the structural integrity of your fence, leading to warping, cracking, or even collapse.

This issue isn’t isolated; numerous fences suffer damage every winter because of snow being carelessly plowed into them.

It’s also important to communicate this concern with your neighbors. Sharing strategies for snow removal can help protect both your properties and maintain good relations. While most professional snow removal companies are aware of the potential damage their actions can cause to fences, it doesn’t hurt to remind them. A brief conversation or a friendly reminder can ensure they take the necessary precautions to avoid directing snow against your fence.

By taking these steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of snow-related damage to your fencing, ensuring it remains intact and functional throughout the winter season.

Protect Your Fence This Winter

By applying these specific winter maintenance strategies, you can keep your fence both sturdy and attractive through the harsh winter conditions. Dedicating time and care to your fence today will prolong its life and keep your property looking great during Ottawa’s winter season – and all year round.

Fence Masters Ottawa is your number one choice for quality products, installation, and after sales service.

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