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5 Ways to Deal with an Ugly Fence

Ugly FenceWhen a wood fence grows old or falls into disrepair, it can become a blemish on your property. If not maintained properly, most cedar fence materials turn gray with age and begin to splinter, crack or rot. Because a fence is often one of the most prominent features of a landscape, it can have a big impact on how other people view your home.

Ugly fencing materials can reduce your home’s curb appeal and detract from your enjoyment of your outdoor living space. If you’ve got an unattractive fence lurking on your property, here are five ways you can make the situation more livable:

1. Spruce it up.

If the posts and rails are still structurally sound, you may be able to breathe some life back into your ugly fence simply by putting in some time and elbow grease. Begin by scouting the length of your fence for any loose, rotting or broken boards that need to be repaired or replaced. Then get ready for a deep cleaning.

If your fence has fallen victim to mold or mildew growth, scrub it clean using a stiff-bristled brush and an oxygen bleach cleaner, which kills mold and fungus without harming the environment. To help revive the natural color of your fencing materials, apply an oxalic acid wood brightener, which removes rust and tannin stains and helps prepare the wood to absorb a fence stain.

Pressure washing is another option for cleaning your cedar fence materials. Using a power washer on your fence makes cleaning easier and less time consuming, but it can be risky, as cedar is a soft wood and can be easily damaged by too much pressure. Of course, if your fence is already in bad shape, you probably don’t need to worry. To avoid causing additional damage, however, use a low pressure setting and a wide nozzle, and remember to always keep the spray in motion.

Once the fencing materials are clean and dry, apply a fence stain to help freshen your fence’s appearance and prevent further problems.

2. Install strategic trellis panels.

Homeowners who would rather not put the work into improving an ugly fence can mitigate its impact by strategically placing panels of trellis along its length. The trellis will help hide unsightly sections of cedar fencing materials, and you can use it to grow climbing plants, which will give your yard some vertical interest.

Trellis panels are inexpensive and readily available at many home improvement stores. They are also relatively easy to install and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

3. Conceal it with privacy plants.

For a longer-term solution, you can plant a row of privacy shrubs to hide the offending fencing materials. Homeowners can find a wide variety of options to choose from, many of which are tall and thick enough to mask an ugly fence.

Privacy shrubs may take some time before they grow large enough to block the view. You can speed up the process by planting fast-growing shrubs, but keep in mind that these will need to be trimmed more often. For year-round concealment, choose evergreen shrubs rather than deciduous.

4. Tear it down and build a new one.

If your fence has reached a point at which it’s too dilapidated to perform its intended function, it may be better to simply remove it. An unstable fence can pose a safety risk and could blow over in a storm, causing further damage to your yard. To prevent its replacement from becoming your next ugly fence, consider choosing a durable, low-maintenance fencing material such as aluminum or vinyl fencing.

5. Display it with pride.

Sometimes, dealing with an ugly fence is all a matter of perspective. If none of the above solutions are practical for you, try thinking of the fence as rustic, charming or distinguished. You can even accessorize your yard to bring out its rustic element.

In some cities, there are contests in which you can enter your ugly fence installation. Salem, Oregon homeowners, for example, proudly enter their ugly fences in an annual “Ugliest Fence Contest” for Northwest residents.

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