How to Prepare Your Fencing for Pets and Kids This Summer
The beginning of spring is the perfect time to assess your house exterior for damages brought forth by winter’s wrath and prepare your outdoor spaces for warmer weather. As you evaluate your roof, siding, and trim, however, don’t lose sight of your property’s various exterior additions, such as your deck, patio, and/or fencing. If you have kids and/or children, it’s especially important to maintain your fence. For one thing, this feature is a barrier between your property and the outside world- a worn down, faulty fence can be easily outmaneuvered by kids, dogs, and cats alike. Moreover, neglected fencing can become a breeding ground for mold and rot, which pets and young children may touch or ingest out of curiosity. Wooden fences can also cause nasty splinters and cuts if not properly sealed. And now that warm, sunny days have arrived, the chances of your kids and pets getting near or going beyond your fence grows even larger.
With all this in mind, here’s how you can prepare your fencing for pets and kids alike this summer.
How to Prepare Your Fencing for Summer
Make Sure Your Fence Is Secure and Upright
First things first: a fence is hardly a fence if it’s not firmly fixed into the ground and standing straight and tall. Shifts in the earth, moisture in the soil, and other environmental factors can cause your fence to lose its integrity and shape over time. At some point, you’ll need to intervene and straighten out your fence, ensuring that it’s unable to move from its position for the time-being. As you reconfigure your fence, you may find that certain repairs are in order. Winter conditions, in particular, can do a number on outdoor wooden surfaces -- you might notice cracks, loose hardware, signs of rot, and other concerns that need addressing. Putting these problems aside will only cause them to grow and further weaken your fence, so prepare to make some repairs this spring or summer. Ultimately, your fence should be fixed, perfectly vertical, free from fractures and holes, and properly secured with tight hardware (i.e., handles, locks, etc.).
Prevent Your Pets from Digging Under Your Fence
Small children and pets have many things in common, and a joy for getting their hands (or paws) dirty is one of them. While it’s unlikely that a kid will be able to dig under your fencing, don’t put this past an energetic dog. Indeed, even if your fence is otherwise secure and fairly deeply rooted, your pets and wild animals may be able to dig deep enough to render it useless, making a mess in the process. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this underground escape or infiltration. Namely, a welded wire mesh footer can be placed underneath your fence in an L-shape about a foot deeper than the bottoms of its posts. When properly installed, this buried barrier can prevent most pets and other animals from getting past your fence in this way, or at least discourage them from digging any further.
Install a Mud/Rot Board at the Base
Another way to prevent and discourage digging is by installing a mud/rot board at the base of your fencing. These boards are placed along the bottom of a fence panel rather than underneath the fence itself. As such, these boards don’t offer the same level of dig-prevention as underground wire mesh. That said, they do add another layer of security to your fence while also protecting the fence’s base from rot due to moisture in the soil.
Heighten Your Fence with Decorative Features
Getting underneath a fence isn’t the only way to bypass it, of course. Athletic pets and ambitious children may also attempt to jump over your fence if it seems feasible. You don’t want to erect a wall around your home or anything, but it might make sense to raise the height of your fence a few inches in preparation for summer. If so, this is a prime opportunity to install some decorative features such as lattice panel tops after implementing some stylish wood extenders. Do some digging online for inspiration on fence extensions for both aesthetic and practical purposes.
Thoroughly Clean Your Fencing
A dirty fence is both an eyesore and a potential danger to pets and kids, harboring harmful substances that may lead to health problems if touched or ingested. To keep your fence beautiful and safe, then thoroughly clean it shortly after winter’s end. Pressure washing is one of the most efficient ways to go about this, but make sure you know what you’re doing -- standing at the wrong distance and/or using the wrong cleaning solution or power setting can damage your fencing and landscaping.
Sand Down Those Rough Surfaces
As mentioned earlier, wooden fences can also harm your kids’ or pets’ skin with their rough exteriors. To maximize fence safety, take the time to sand it smooth. There’s another important reason to sand (and clean) your fence, too. If you plan on applying paint or deck stain to your fence before or during summer, you’ll want to work on a clean, receptive surface, and sanding is a key part of this surface preparation.
Use Kid- and Pet-Friendly Paint or Stain
To complete your summertime fence preparation for the entire family, consider performing some exterior home painting on your fence in particular (after you’ve completed the necessary surface preparation mentioned above). Coating your fence with fresh paint or stain will greatly enhance its appearance while also protecting its surfaces from the various environmental threats summer has to offer, such as harsh ultraviolet radiation (i.e., sunlight), rain, pests, and more. And the more protected your fence is, the fewer repairs you’ll have to perform in the future. Before tackling this home painting project, however, be mindful of the paint/stain product you use. Certain products are more pet- and child-safe than others. Ideally, you’ll want to apply coatings that are water-based, non-toxic, and free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, carcinogens, and petrochemicals. This way, if your kids or pets do come into contact with or ingest your recently-coated fence, their health will not be at risk.
Don’t Sit on the Fence This Summer
If you want your pets and kids to safely enjoy their outside time this summer, you must focus on your fencing. If you’re not sure where to begin in this endeavor, the residential exterior painting experts at Nash Painting are here to help. We’ve helped countless homeowners across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN, improve the safety and appearance of their homes inside and out over the years. To learn more about us, our hassle free painting services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!