If you live somewhere that experiences heavy snowfall each winter, it can be challenging to keep up with snow removal. One gusty afternoon or blustery snowstorm and all your hard work shoveling, plowing, and snow blowing are wiped away. If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time to install a snow fence.
A snow fence acts as a safety barrier fence to prevent snow from drifting into roads, driveways, and walkways. When installed correctly, these handy winter barricades can significantly reduce the amount of snow clearing you’ll need to do each winter. Plus, they act as a safety fence by increase driver safety and protect roadways from damage. Below, we’ll teach you how a snow fence works and offer step-by-step instructions on how to put up snow fencing.
How does a snow fence work?
The primary purpose of snow fencing is to reduce wind speeds, thereby reducing the amount of snow that is blown into your driveway and walkways. The aim is not to stop snow entirely but instead to redirect where it accumulates.
Snow fences are designed for snow storage. When installed correctly, they cause blowing snow to accumulate on the downwind side of the barrier. As the snow piles up, it freezes together into a smooth snow drift. Snow fences are also used to trap snow and create an intentional accumulation of water (such as into a pond or watering hole) in the spring.
In addition to reducing the need for manual shoveling, plowing, and snow blowing, they help keep roadways safer. By reducing the amount of drifting snow, snow fencing can improve visibility and minimize snow on the road. Yearly installation can also minimize pavement maintenance, saving you time and money in the long run.
What You Will Need
These tools and materials can be easily be purchased online, and you should also be able to find them from your local store.
- Fencing: Plastic Porosity, outdoor mesh, or netting will get the job done. Start with a 4f ft by 50 ft or 100 ft. with 50 footers being easier to manage. Be sure to measure and figure out the dimensions you will need.
- T post : for fence usage. Not metal u-post. Recommend going with 6 foot or 7-foot posts.
- A post driver : To install fence t post.
- Tape measure: Help to mark your post locations.
- Zip ties or cable ties: you will need about 3 or 4 ties per post.
- Working gloves
How To install snow fences?
The correct placement of your snow fence is paramount to its success. An improperly placed snow fence will be ineffective at containing snow and preventing it from blowing into the roadway. To determine the placement of your snow fences, you’ll need to consider the following:
- Wind direction— You’ll first need to determine what direction the wind blows most consistently. Look at the location of snowdrifts in the area and the orientation of trees and vegetation. It may also be helpful to reference meteorological data from your local weather station.
- Distance from the road— Snow drifts can spread 35 times the height of the fence, so you’ll need to ensure they’re placed far enough away from the roadway to be effective. Snow fences should be placed at least 150-250 feet away from the road, depending on fence height (default fence height is 4 ft), wind speed, and amount of snowfall.
- Length— To accommodate for variations in wind direction, add twenty times the height of the fence to each end of the area you want to be protected.
Temporary snow fences are typically made from perforated orange plastic sheeting. This durable, lightweight fencing material is also commonly used for construction sits and temporary sports fields. When picking fencing material, go with bright orange color for high visibility purposes. Here are a few design aspects that are crucial to consider when installing a snow fence:
- Plastic Porosity, outdoor mesh, or netting— For proper wind control and snow drift formation, you’ll want a porosity (the open weave of the plastic) of 40-50%.
- Bottom Gap— When installing a snow fence, it’s important to plan for a small gap under the fence. The gap should be at least five inches high or 10-15% of the fence height. The higher the fence is placed from the ground, the further away snowdrifts will begin to form.
- Anchor Posts— To anchor your snow fence, you’ll want to use sturdy metal t-posts that are six to seven feet tall. For fifty feet of fencing, you’ll need roughly seven to twelve posts. You’ll also need a post driver to pound them in.
Installation & Removal
Snow fences should be installed in late October or early November before the ground freezes. Here is a step-by-step guide to putting a snow fence:
- Place Fence Posts— Use a measuring tape to determine the location of your fence line. Metal t-posts should be placed no more than eight feet apart. In areas with particularly heavy winds, posts should be placed closer together.
- Drive Posts— Use a post driver to drive the fence posts at least one and a half to two feet deep, as heavy winds can easily dislodge shallow poles.
- Line Up Snow Fence on Posts— Next, line up the fence on the windward side of the posts. Don’t forget to leave the all-important gap underneath.
- Secure Snow Fence— Secure the fence to the posts using three to four cable zip ties per post. In areas with high winds, experts recommend using wooden slats for additional support. Sandwich the orange plastic fencing between the flat side of the post and the wooden slat before zip-tying. For problem areas with heavy wind weather and snow load, secure the fencing ends with additional wires.
Once spring has arrived and snowfall has stopped, it’s time to take down your snow fence. Here is a step-by-step guide to removing your snow fence:
- Remove Zip Ties— Use wire clippers to remove the zip ties. Bring a bag along with you for easy disposal.
- Roll the Fence— With proper care, a snow fence can be reused year after year. Simply roll the plastic fencing up again, brushing off any dirt or debris as you go, and store until the next winter. While you may be tempted to leave it up year-round, it’s not recommended as it exposes the fencing to sunlight and weathering.
- Remove the Posts— Next, remove the posts, knock off the dirt, and gather them for off-season storage.
Snow Fencing Alternatives
If you are looking for other ways to build snow fencing, pallets, slat fencing, and staggered planks will work too. The best snow fences are half solid and half-open to blocks and slow the wind. If you are going with either of these options, make sure you understand your prevailing winds, angles, and distance.