How to care for and maintain your wooden fence

A wooden fence can be used for decorative reasons, to provide safety and to encourage privacy on our properties. Wooden structures complement the nature in our gardens and are a beautiful addition to any outdoor environment. From a wooden DIY jungle gym to a wooden trellis protecting your flower beds.

Wood is versatile as a garden material and if you take care of it properly, it can last for many years. As with most things, your wooden fence needs to be cared for through a series of maintenance routines that we will be discussing for yours and your fence’s benefit.   

Keep it clean


Your fence is outside facing all of the natural forces. As well as the elements brought on by children and pets. This means your wooden fence will dirty easily and frequently but it’s important to keep it clean.

Soap, water and a sunny day are all you need to clean your fence and prevent a build-up of mildew which, over time, could lead to the damage of your fence. You could also make use of a fence cleanser that is applied, left to soak for 20 minutes and then rinsed off. And the easiest way to clean your fence with the least effort is with a pressure hose.

Besides protecting the wood from mildew and making sure it looks as good as new, you need to clean your fence before you apply any sealants or stain the wood.

Seal it and stain it


It’s important to seal your wooden fence as it protects it from sun damage and makes it more durable against the sun, wind and rain. If you aren’t sure if your fence is due for a sealant coat, you can test it with water. If you pour water on your fence, does it run down in droplets or does the wood soak it up? If it soaks in the water, then you need to get out the wood seal and paintbrush.

One thing a sealant doesn’t do is change or affect the colour of your fence. Obviously, being wood, you can paint your fence any colour you like. But if you’re content with the natural wood-look, then what you need to buy is a wood stain. Staining your fence will enhance the colour and look of its natural attributes. And if you want it to last longer, seal your fence before and after you stain it.

You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference a coat of wood stain can make to your entire garden. You can even find UV or moisture-resistant stains that will create an extra layer of protection to your fence.      

Control the wood from rotting


Termites and moisture are a wooden-fence nightmare. They bring rot and mould that damages the wood and breaks it down. Luckily, there are a few things you can to do keep it under control.


  • Preservative layer: To protect your fence against moisture, you should apply a wood preservative to your fence. This, along with your sealant, will also make it less vulnerable to termites that are attracted to moisture.  
  • Sprinkler position: Even with sealant and preservatives, if you purposely expose your wooden fence to water from your sprinklers on a regular basis, you’re asking for water damage. Try to position your sprinklers in a way that goes directly to the plants and not over onto the fence.  
  • Breathing space: Flowers, shrubs and plants (and your fence) make your garden beautiful. But plants thrive on water-retaining soil and use their roots to draw out that moisture. That’s why having your plants right up against your fence isn’t the best idea and why a breathing space between the two is necessary.

Remember, if your fence is clean and protected with sealants, it’s more likely to withstand a couple of termites and some water spray. Those are your first line of defence.

Repair damage immediately


If you notice any splintering, loose boards or tears in your fence or trellis, the best thing to do is repair it as soon as possible. The longer you leave it exposed to nature, the higher the chances of it causing damage to the rest of the fence. Not to mention the potential harm it can do to passersby or your children who play in the garden along the fence.

Minor cracks and splints can easily be repaired with a waterproof wood glue. And rusty nails can easily be replaced to secure loose boards back in place. Should there be major damage, you can consider inserting a concrete support as a reinforcement to keep the fence standing tall. Otherwise, if your fence is beyond repair, it’s time to call in the experts or start looking at a new wooden trellis to put up in its place.