How to Care For a Wood Fence. 5 Tips Every Homeowner Needs to Know

March 31, 2024

Wood fences are great for their natural look. They are sturdy, reasonably priced and easy to put up. Fence maintenance is also quite straightforward. Read on to get some tips to ensure your property perimeter looks good for as long as possible.

1. Posts, Pickets, and Cross Beams

Inspect your fence at least once a year. Check the pickets and cross beams for loose nails and either hammer them in or replace them.

If the pickets themselves have started to rot (normally from the bottom up), remove them and replace them.  This is one reason to get a standard wooden fence to begin with. Replacing individual pickets of the most common standard widths of either 3.5" or 5.5" is as easy as going to the hardware store and choosing the length you need.

Another thing to look for is insect damage.  Ants and some beetles are often the chief culprits, especially if you have elected to use untreated timber for your fence.

Ensure that all posts are securely in the ground and that the soil around them is firm. This is best done in spring. Wet soil can be a problem around certain posts, so consider whether you need to alter your garden drainage to divert water away from the fence.

2. Fence Maintenance Is Key

If well maintained, a wood fence can last for between 10 and 15 years.

It may begin to warp or split within the first year. After five to seven years, you might find that it is not strictly perpendicular.

Fence maintenance starts when you are erecting a new fence. If your fence is already in place, you can still do the following, as good maintenance practice:

  • Paint a petroleum-based stain onto your fence annually, or more often if you live in a very rainy area. This establishes a barrier between moisture from the elements and the wood. It prolongs the life of the wood and enhances its appearance.
  • Use general automotive grease on gate locks and hinges.

Remember any chemical treatment or stain should be applied to a clean fence that has been allowed to dry completely before you begin.

Garden centers now offer organic and less harmful wood treatment alternatives, so you can still be friendly to nature and have a healthy-looking fence. Of course, we recommend you contact us directly about wood treatments. We know what treatment works best on what wood and have been experts in the field for 57 years.

You can use a garden broom every once in a while to brush dust and dirt from your fence. While you are doing that, keep your eye out for burrowing timber-loving insects!

3. Clear Foliage and Grass

The most effective way to prevent rot of your treated or stained wood fence is to keep the area free of:

  • overhanging tree branches touching the wood
  • fallen leaves
  • overgrown lawn or grass.

Trim branches of trees that touch or rub against your fence. Not only is this tidy, but you will also prevent the overall look of your fence being patchy. 

Fallen leaves are a favorite place for woodlice and other insects to hide.  Rake these away from your fence to minimize the chances of wood rot setting in. If the ground is relatively dry, you can use a leaf blower; otherwise, a good old-fashioned raking will do the trick.

Lawn and grass tend to grow taller at the bottom of a fence. Keep the grass trim by cutting it regularly, or cutting it manually with a pair of clippers.  It will look neat, and prevent unnecessary moisture collecting at the foot of your fence.

Don't lean objects such as wheelbarrows or tools against your fence.  Moisture will collect at the points of contact with the fence. Besides, the wood hidden by the objects will age at a different rate to the rest of your fence and can make the fence look older or patchy.

4. Hanging Baskets

Some people like to have hanging baskets full of bright flowers on their fences. It adds color and gives your fence a touch of individuality. It also helps you enjoy your pleasant garden on sunny days.

Make sure the hanging baskets have proper brackets to hold them up and do not touch the pickets. This simple trick will ensure your fence lasts longer. Again, remove any plant debris every week, keeping your plants healthy and your fence looking good.

5. Be Friends with Your Neighbor

Remember there are two sides to every fence.  If the other side of your fence is in your neighbor's property, make sure you maintain friendly relations with your neighbor.

If your neighbor does not mind you could offer to perform fence maintenance every few months on his or her side of the fence.  Your neighbor might even help you but if not, they will certainly appreciate you doing the work. 

The benefit is that their side of the fence will look good, and you get to ensure your fence has a long life.


Our fence maintenance tips apply not only to picket fences but to other types, such as a paddock style, or estate fence, and any other ornamental fencing or trellising made of timber. If you have a wooden shed, you can include it in your fence maintenance program each year.

As commercial and residential fencing contractors, we install fences and maintain them on behalf of our customers. But we also know that oftentimes homeowners like to work on beautifying their surrounds themselves. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us, and we will be happy to advise you on the best course of action.