Snow can cause a lot of issues, especially with road safety. Plastic snow fences are said to help keep the snow in check, but do they really work?
Plastic snow fences work by keeping snow from piling on the desired area, such as a driveway when placed correctly. In especially snowy areas, snow fences are important for the safety of everyone, especially those traveling on roads.
There is so much to know about plastic snow fences, so keep reading to find out things like how to place a snow fence correctly and what a snow fence even is!
How Do Plastic Snow Fences Work?
A plastic snow fence is made of either orange or black plastic that has holes, just like a chain link or wire fence.
If you have ever experienced a blizzard or snow storm, you know that the snow isn’t the only problem… It’s the huge gusts of wind that carries the snow.
Plastic snow fences work because the holes in them allow the wind to blow through while stopping the snow from traveling with it.
Obviously, plastic fences won’t stop snow from coming down from the sky and landing in your driveway. The fence is just is meant to prevent drifts from forming.
Essentially, the fence creates a block that forces the wind to drop the snow so it can continue to blow. When the fence stops the snow, the snow piles into a drift.
Since the fence stops the blowing snow, the area on the other side of the fence is protected from the snow.
Plastic snow fences are often used to protect driveways and roads from the blustering winds that carry snow. Snow fences can reduce the need for plowing and keep the roads clear of blowing and drifting on the road.
Where to Place the Snow Fence
The plastic snow fence should be installed upwind of the area that you want to keep clear. Before setting up your fence, you should research which direction the wind blows in your area and learn where the upwind would be.
It is crucial to make sure you do not set up the fence too far or too close to the area which you want to keep clear.
If you set the fence up too far, the desired effect of keeping an area clear of snow is lost. If you set the fence up too close, the snow will pile where you do not want it.
The key to finding the perfect place to put your snow fence is taking the height of the fence and multiply it by 35.
For example: If your plastic snow fence is 4 feet tall, it should be 140 feet away from the desired area.
This measurement may seem like it is far away, but if you think about it, it makes sense. The fence needs to be far enough away to protect the wind from blowing snow to the desired area.
If there is any extra snow that makes it past the fence, there is still a bit of room for it to drop before reaching the area you are trying to protect.
There is a bit of controversy as to how far away you should place the snow fence, so you should research your specific plan before placing the snow fence.
The general answer is multiplying the fence height by 35, but double-check your state’s recommendations since each state is different.
How to Install a Plastic Snow Fence
Installing a plastic snow fence is fairly simple. The most important thing to remember is to measure how far away from your fence should be from the area you want to protect.
Step One: Research the Area
Before setting up anything, you need to do your research. What is the wind direction for your area? How much snow does your area get a year? What is the typical wind speed?
These things are important to know because they affect how your plastic snow fence should be built.
Step Two: Pick the Design of the Fence
Before buying the materials for your snow fence, you want to make sure you are buying the right thing.
For the best snowdrifts, the porosity (the open area of the fence) should be anywhere from 40-50%.
If you live in an area with strong wind forces, you may want to pick up some additional ties or support wires to secure your fence.
Step Three: Set Up Fence Posts
Here comes the fun part!
For your fence to be most effective, you must make sure the fence is the proper distance from the area you are protecting.
In case you forgot, that is 35x the height of your snow fence.
Fence posts should not be more than 8 feet apart for 4 ft. snow fences. The fencing material needs to be tight for it to be effective. Also, the fencing material needs to be five inches above the ground.
This is important because it allows the snow to be blocked while also allowing airflow in the fence.
So to start building your snow fence, you should place your fence posts no more than 8 feet apart. These fence posts need to be well set in the ground (the key is 1/3 of the fence post should be in the ground).
Step 4: Add the Plastic Fencing Material
The plastic fencing should be placed on the windward side.
If your area gets a lot of snow, you can place the ends of the fencing with additional support wires.
3. Assess for Extra Precaution
If your area gets a lot of snow and you are worried the snow fence will not work, you can stagger multiple snow fences.
To do this, follow the same process, but allow 25 times the height of the fence between the snow fence for snow drifts to form.
If you are still confused, here is a good description on how a snow fence works.
Snow Fence Maintenance
So you have your snow fence set up! Now what?
Maintenance is just as important as setting up your plastic snow fence. If there is an issue with the fence, then your fence will not work properly!
A good thing to do is to check your plastic snow fence after each snowstorm to make sure nothing has been damaged.
Especially check the anchoring system to make sure the snow fence is still anchored into the ground and that it will not go anywhere.
If you find any missing or damaged pieces, you can easily place a new piece of fencing to make your snow fence feel brand new!
You can also add extra support wires if you feel the wind is taking a toll on your plastic fence.
Why Plastic Snow Fences are Effective
One reason a plastic snow fence is effective is that it is not permanent. Each year when the snow starts to melt, you can take down the fence, wrap it up, and store it for next winter.
Also, since it is not permanent, if the fence is not working the way you want it to, you can easily move it to a better location.
Another reason the fence is effective is because of the open area below the fence.
The open area (at least 5 inches) allows for wind to blow underneath, which encourages the snowdrift to form. The openings in the fence also allow wind to blow through, which creates these important snowdrifts.
More Effective Options for Snow Fences
There are many options for material when it comes to a snow fence. The most common is plastic, but if plastic is not working for you or you are wanting a more permanent snow fence, here are some other options:
- Wood pallets
Wood Snow Fence
Just like there is plastic snow fencing material, there is wood fencing material.
The wood slats are woven together with wire. Installation is the same as a plastic snow fence, so it really depends on your preference of material.
Wood snow fences are typically more permanent, so if you are looking for a permanent option, a wood fence might be the way to go.
Metal Snow Fence
Metal snow fences are usually used on roofs, but can be used for regular snow fences as well.
It is the same idea as a plastic or wooden snow fence. It is just made of metal.
Like a wooden snow fence, a metal snow fence is also more permanent.
If you are in a time crunch or if you have extra pallets laying around, you can use them to build a snow fence.
Stacking wood pallets next to each other to create a fence is an easy and cheap way to make a snow fence if you are in a bind.
Wood pallets are easy to move so they make a great option for a temporary snow fence.
Make sure to follow the fencing measurements for your fence to work effectively.
A simple way to build a snow fence is to plant vegetation.
Instead of building a fence, you measure the distance away from the desired area you want to block and plant trees or bushes instead!
Not only will it look pretty, but it is easy since you do not have to worry about the fencing breaking.
Planting vegetation is a very permanent way to create a snow fence if you are looking for a permanent and easy solution to keep the snow away.
We hope that this article was helpful and you learned a lot about plastic snow fences.