Are you prepared? On Hurricanes and Windproof Boundary Fencing

Last update: 1 week ago

3 min read

Since Doris blew our expectations for a “windy day” away, here in London the demand for fence panels at our office skyrocketed:
Google trends showing rise in fence panels after the Doris storm
Seeing the destruction it has caused we feel slightly obligated to talk some fences, moderate winds and hurricanes.

Can Windproof Fencing Work Against a Hurricane?

There are some types of fence panels that do better than others in windy locations but that’s about it. For windy areas there are two fence solutions:

  • Trellis – They have the lowest resistance to the wind as they pass it go through. A trellis with steady upright support can withstand any strong wind that does not fall under the “storm” category.
  • Hit & Miss fencing – Hit and miss fences have planks alternately positioned on each side of the fence. This specific pattern gives it extra resistance as it allows the air to pass through.

However, there is no hurricane resistant fence.

…as you would probably guess from this event. Doesn’t matter if it’s a hurricane vinyl fence or a chain-link, they never were and they never will be. Especially at winds reaching speeds of 100+ mp/h.

In fact, many years ago every home insurance plan in England used to cover garden storm damage.

That until in 1987 another calamity, symbolically named “the Great Storms of 1987” struck all of southern England (together with France and part of Scandinavia) only to take 22 lives and cause tremendous property destruction.

Naturally, all homeowner insurance agencies found themselves buried in claims about covering destroyed fences. As wind resistant fence panels are still vulnerable to a strong storm, which that historical day made clear, insurers no longer wanted to deal with that type of coverage.

Note: There are some rare cases where it is either a combined garden insurance, a high price full package one, or one with specific conditions that need to be met in order for them to cover the fencing damage.

What You Could Do To Prepare for a Hurricane Anyway

There are some hurricane preparedness basics that you could still follow and hope for the best.
If a storm as strong as Doris strikes again, you may not save a lot but if you’re lucky enough to not have your fence ripped off by the gust alone, there are still some risks to consider. More often the damage dealt is from fallen trees or scattered furniture and yard decoration. Here’s what you can do in short and long-term to protect your fence (and property for that matter) from a costly storm:

  • Long run preparations:

    1. Check your fence posts. Look for loose or rotten ones. Wet soil exposure may cause timber posts to rot. If you spot something immediately get it repaired. A concrete fence post would greatly improve your boundary’s wind resistance over a wooden one. Timber posts do tend to get dislocated easily.

    2. Manage your garden tree selection. Every tree that is not shallow-rooted would be suitable for the job. This is mandatory if you’re the owner of a soft soil garden. It is also important to monitor your older trees for root rot, which may also weaken the root systems. A common symptom is a decreased leaf count.
    Our advice: go for Oak trees, they are really good at resisting strong winds.

  • Right-before-the-disaster preparations:

    1. Bring your BBQ inside. You may be facing prolonged power cuts as these 40 000 homes did. This will be your cooking alternative if this happens.

    2. If there’s a pool in your yard your best option would be to leave your lawn furniture inside (yes, in the water). It will keep your chairs, stools and tables from flying around damaging your property. If you don’t own a pool, make sure you turn the furniture pieces over. Tying them up to trees is also a smart move as long as you have the time.

Garden fencing only serves to establish privacy, borders and aesthetics. Don’t feel cheated if some extreme gust rips your newly installed boards off. Such events are not under your control so simply consider replacing it. We could even help with that.

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