Building a fence is definitely a time-consuming project, and trying to put one in the frozen ground will indeed make it take longer. While winter probably isn’t the most ideal time to finish an outdoor project, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
You can install a fence on frozen ground. While it won’t be as easy to do because of the weather conditions, there are still ways to finish this project in the cold. Digging your holes will be the most difficult part to complete, but the steps for the rest won’t be as taxing.
The level of difficulty it will take to install your fence will depend on how deep the frost is on the ground. Based on that, you can get a better estimate of how long your project will take. Below is a guide on how to go about setting up a fence on frozen ground.
After you’ve made sure to bundle up in the appropriate outerwear for the cold weather outside, here are some additional tools and materials you might need.
- Post hole digger (to make it easier to dig your holes)
- Measuring level
- Appropriate concrete mix
- Other tools may vary depending on the specific type of fence
Digging The Holes
Like I said before, this will be the most difficult part of putting up a fence while the ground is still frozen. Frozen ground can be tough to work with so proceed with caution and do your best not to get hurt.
You might want to begin by testing the earth with a stake or something similar to see if you can tell how deep the frost is and how hard it might be to dig through. Then you can start digging with your shovel to get through the inches of frozen dirt and soil. You will probably have to chip through 3 to 8 inches before you reach the ground to use the post hole digger on.
Once you begin using the post hole digger you will want to dig about another 1 to 3 feet to finish your holes. The depth of the holes will depend on how deep you want your poles to be in the ground. Make sure to make your holes wide enough, even wider than your poles (another 3 to 4 inches should work).
You may want to give your holes some time to dry and set before actually putting in your posts and concrete. Covering them with thawing blankets or tarps might be a good idea to prevent extra moisture caused by the weather from seeping into that part of the ground. This will help ensure that putting the poles in goes a little more smoothly.
For concrete, it’s all about time. And that’s especially true when you’re putting it outside to set in cold weather. Concrete sets more slowly the colder the air temperature is. It needs to be able to set before it has the chance to freeze. There are a few different ways to ensure that your concrete can work once set in the ground with your poles.
Water helps concrete to set in wintertime, or in colder weather in general. One solution to improve concrete’s setting performance during this time is to heat up the water in the mix so it can keep the concrete warmer as it sets and prevent it from freezing. It’s important to keep concrete wet as it’s setting, and even frozen ground can be dry so it’s still a problem in the cold.
There are many ways to adjust a concrete mix for different situations. Another suggestion for setting concrete in the cold is to add some sort of cement accelerator that can help prevent frost damage and help it to dry faster.
While your concrete is curing, be sure to keep it covered to protect it from the elements. Never place concrete on frozen ground, ice, or snow so do your best to prep the ground in your holes (thawing it out if you need to with heaters, ground thawing blankets, etc.) before you put the concrete in.
Type Of Fence
Now when it comes to the type of fence you’re making, be it wood, vinyl, or metal, there are some things to take into consideration.
Wood doesn’t respond well to moisture when it comes to fences and building anything in general, so it’s important to make sure you use the right wood. Pressure-treated wood is always preferable when it comes to making wood fences because they are made to extend the strength and longevity of the wood. The chemicals put into it help to push out moisture and prevent the wood from rotting as quickly.
If you’re putting in your fence in the cold, be sure your wood will hold up with the weather conditions and the extra moisture that comes with it.
When it comes to vinyl fences you also have to be careful with putting them in the frozen ground when it’s cold outside. Drastic temperature changes can make your fence brittle and prone to cracking or shattering. This means that before or after you’ve installed the fence it could still crack – especially if it’s put in the ground when it’s cold. Be cautious when considering a vinyl fence during the frosty months and be careful when putting it in.
Use a fence contractor or fence building company if possible if you’d like to install a fence in the frozen ground. This is advisable for a few reasons. During colder months, work can be slow for these types of companies and their schedule will probably be more open. Also, they might be able to offer you better prices than in warmer months. They will also have better tools on hand that can be used in these frigid weather conditions.
Yet if you decide to take on this project yourself, it is still possible to do with a little bit of perseverance and patience, as well as with the appropriate clothing, tools, and materials. So good luck with your project and stay warm!