Are you fed up with clearing snow from your driveway, maybe you need a snow fence? I cover how to install a snow fence and discuss the importance of placement.
Although snow fencing doesn’t completely block snow from being blown across your land. It does significantly reduce the amount of build-up in areas you want to keep clear. Making driveways and roads manageable throughout the winter months.
What is a Snow Fence Used For?
A snow fence acts as a windbreak to prevent prevailing winds from all different types of snow blowing across your property. When they not used snowdrifts can appear in the most inconvenient places.
Making snow fences a must for homeowners that have large areas of land or those that are exposed to high winds, during heavy snowfall.
By strategic placement, such as along a long driveway or pathway the snow will collect on the downwind side of the fence. Making those areas not only far more manageable but, also more affordable if you have to pay for snow removal.
How Do Snow Fences Work?
If you have ever seen snow fencing running across open fields, you may have wondered how they actually work. After all, they still let the heavy wind through because they are full of holes.
Because the wind speed falls as it passes through the fence you can control where the snow it’s carrying with it lands. It is important to remember that the fence is not there to stop the snow in its tracks but to slow it enough to pass through and collect on the other side.
However, it is important to ensure that the fence design is such that it does not create wind tunnels. This can cause not only unwanted strong wind but in some cases a dangerously strong wind force.
Different Types of Materials & Snow Fence Designs
There are different types and each snow fence installation has its pros and cons.
- Wooded Slat Snow Fence: Strong, affordable, and durable but wood slats will require considerable maintenance under wet conditions. Still the most effective snow fencing.
- Metal Railing and Pickets: Less affected by extreme temperatures but can corrode in wet conditions and from the salt spread on roads. Best for high wind speed areas.
- Vinyl Sheet Fencing: Flexible and easier to install. But overall are a weaker structure that may need frequent cleaning to prevent sagging. Best as temporary snow fencing.
Snow Fence Placement Diagram
Use this diagram as a cheat sheet for all the calculations you need to make. Remember that a properly installed snow fence starts with correct math.
How to Install a Snow Fence
Deciding how to put up a snow fence depends on the terrain and wind conditions specific to your area. However, I will do my best to guide you through the basics of snow fence installation.
1. Analyzing the Wind Direction & Wind Speed
First and foremost in your mind should be the prevailing wind direction in the area you want to protect. Look to the vegetation for clues, trees or plants may be leaning, or check with the meteorological data from your local weather station.
2. Deciding on Fence Placement
Although perpendicular placement is best, the fence can be up to 25 degrees off and remain effective. It should be placed at a distance that is 20-35 times the height of the fence for the best management of drifting snow.
3. Calculate the Required Fence Height
Higher wind speeds require higher fences. Wind direction is not the only thing to consider when it comes to judging the wind. Speed is a very important factor in the snow fence installation process.
For a wind of 20 mph or less most of the snow will stay within 4 ft of ground level. Although a 4-foot tall fence is fairly standard, remember, the faster the wind blows the less snow stays under 4 feet from the ground.
4. Calculate How Far Back your Snow Fence Should Be
When you are working out how far away you need your fence, a lot will depend on the weather conditions. The very minimum distance of 60ft (for a 4ft fence) should be the distance from the area you are trying to protect. Remember the blowing snow remains a short distance on the other side of the fence.
But you will find a lot of people saying it should be 30-35 times greater than the height of the fence. Again, weather conditions will be a big factor in deciding which is best for your circumstances.
5. Consider Multiple Row Snow Fencing
If you have strong winds or constant windy conditions then you might want to consider several rows of shorter fences. By choosing this option you will be taking the strain from the fence posts and the fence itself. This is also a very good choice if you have uneven or rough terrain to cope with.
How to Build a Snow Fence: DIY Guide
The most important thing to keep in mind when considering how to build a snow fence is that it should be stable and sturdy. Here are my structural tips.
- Use t-posts instead of metal u-posts.
- Ensure that at least 1/3 of the fence post height is firmly in the ground.
- Keep t-posts within 8 feet of each other. The closer they are the stronger the fence.
- Place fence posts at the end no further than 6′ from the next posts.
- Stabilize end posts with extra cable ties and support wires.
- The bottom gap between the ground and bottom of the fence should 10-15% of fence height and at least 5″.
- Tighten fence to posts with zip ties.
- Choose a fencing material with 40-50% porosity.
Frequently Asked Questions (People Also Ask)
Was I able to convince you to try snow fencing this winter? If you remain undecided, let me point out the key reasons why a well-placed snow fence makes for an easier winter.
Why are snowdrifts dangerous?
Snow drifts become dangerous when they occur on roads. Blowing snow not only severely impairs a driver’s visibility, but they also run the risk of an accident by hitting a snowdrift.
Do snow fences really work?
Snow fencing really works to its best when it is correctly installed and placed. A little research does need to be done into local weather conditions though. Factors such as wind speed & wind direction, along with average snowfall amounts all need to be considered.
How much wind does it take to drift snow?
A wind speed of about 12 mph is needed to create a snowdrift but this may vary slightly depending on the density of the snow. Stronger winds are needed to carry heavy snow.
The most important thing to remember when installing snow fences is that they need to be placed according to the wind direction. When installed correctly and securely they will save you an awful lot of snow removal during the cold winter months.
If you do have land that is exposed why not consider a living snow fence. You will need to install a snow fence while the plants get established. But. it will certainly be a lot more pleasing to the eye.