Damage to the lower half metre of brush fencing by dogs is a common problem with hand packed fences. When you put yourself in the place of a dog, it can't be much fun to be imprisoned in one yard for most of your life. It's not surprising therefore, that some dogs invest quite a lot of energy inescaping - and after all they have plenty of time to work at it.
Typical 'Dog Hole' in a hand packed brush fence
Partly repaired Dog Hole
Usually damage is confined to the lower part of the fence just above the concrete base (where the brush is finest and thick stalks minimal). Holes are created and as soon as they are covered by an angry owner, another place is affected. Some dogs create distinct holes but other dogs can damage most of the length of the fence.
Typical minor 'Dog Damage'
An unusual request for a 'Dog Gate' in a common fence between neighbours
The holes can be 'seamlessly' repaired at reasonable cost in hand-packed fencing and wire netting or mesh can be fixed to the lower half of the fence with wire netting fasteners. This measure will usually solve the problem, although some determined dogs lift the bottom edge of the wire and get their noses under, or if the netting is coarse weave, can work at the brush through the mesh. More creative owners have over the years had dog mesh 'windows' installed in their front fences so their dogs can see the world go by, or in one unusual case a door to the adjoining neighbours property (pictured above).
A gate fitted with chicken wire - Showing no signs of further dog damage two years after re-packing!
Here owner has fitted mesh to prevent further damage.
Dogs have a tougher time working holes through machine compressed brush fencing panels due to the density of brush and proximity of wire staples (100mm apart) and because thick stick material is distributed throughout the height of the brush panel. Hand packed fences on the other hand only have fine leaf material along the bottom of the fence which is easier for the dogs to work through. It is generally not possible to repair or fit extra brush to machine-packed panels should they be damaged, due to the proximity of wire staples and density of brushwork, but damaged panels can be easily and cheaply replaced.
Vehicle damage mostly occurs when drivers lose control under the influence of alcohol or drugs and speed, but also quite often with older people in driveways and carports through incorrect gear selection and jammed accelerators. Sometimes the concrete bases are damaged or dislodged and usually the internal rails and capping are bent, wiring broken and brush damaged. Often the insurance company for the vehicle driver and the home owner are involved in settling the claim.
Vehicle impacted fences pull on the fence wiring right down the line and can effect the alignment of gates and gate posts some distance away!
Vehicle damage brush fencing is a daily occurrence in the Adelaide metropolitan area!
Fortunately Adelaide Brush has developed techniques over the years to recover hand-packed brushwork that looks to the average eye to be a complete 'write off', although in some instances complete replacement of sections of the fence are necessary. The following images show the repair sequence to a seriously vehicle damaged fence. The owner did not want the repaired section of fence looking like 'new brushwork' and so all the damaged brush sections were re-used, saving him money and producing a result that is almost seamless with the undamaged sections (apart from the new wiring which can be seen in the last image below).
Damaged concrete base and posts are removed and new posts set.
The affected section is formed up and concreted.
The formwork is removed, old brush fence wiring is cut.
The original brush panels are re-fitted using the old wiring to secure temporarily.
The sections are re-wired, the brush work is patched and adjusted and re-stapled.
The capping and post rolls are refitted and the new concrete discoloured to match the old base.
Although arson evokes feelings of violation, most damage is relatively small in extent and can be quickly and 'seamlessly' repaired with hand-packed fencing. Machine packed panel fences too can be quickly and cost effectively repaired by replacing the affected panels. The common damage in the Adelaide metropolitan area is about 1 to 2 metres in exent and commonly affects the top half of the fence primarily. Most household insurance policies cover fire damage and policy excesses are generally not prohibitive.
Minor brush fence fire damage.
The same fence after brush repair and with new colorbond capping.
Storm damage can be either as drastic as a pine tree falling on a fence or a gum tree dropping a sizeable limb or as minor as capping coming adrift. Usually when a medium sized limb falls, the fence capping and internal rails are bent and sometimes posts bent and wiring broken. Where the fence wiring is connected to gate posts, often they too can be bent or gates pulled out of alignment. Although the fence can look a real mess, posts can often be straightened, capping, rails and wiring replaced and hand packedbrush can be seamlessly repaired or machine compressed panels easily be replaced. In more severe cases, whole sections of fence can be flattened, posts and bases uplifted and may need complete replacement. Storm damage is not covered by some insurance companies.
Major storm damage often occurs after periods of rain with tree root upheaval.
Most fence damage caused by falling limbs or trees is quite repairable.
A tree trunk growing too close to a fence can throw a fence and its concrete base out of alignment and through pulling on the fence wiring can affect a long section of fencing. Overhanging limbs leaning on a fence can also cause damage to capping as well as affecting fence alignment. The solutions are either to remove the tree and repair the fence, or to cut the fence to create an opening and to marry the new fence ends to the tree profile. Root damage can cause upheaval of the fence posts and the concrete base and thus the top line of the fence including damage to the fence capping. There is no easy solution and usually the most cost effective way is to trim the top line of the fence and replace damaged capping and repair damaged concrete bases.
An example where tree roots have caused upheaval to the fence with resultant cracking and separation of the concrete base. Ausbrush uses reinforcing rod in its concrete bases to prevent sections dislodging completely.
Creepers growing on brush fencing can look great when green and alive and to some degree certain types of creeper can act to bind the brush together, however, if at some future date the creeper dies or it is decided to remove the creeper, then it can be a real disaster. Usually in removing the creeper which has suckered to the brush and weaved in and out of the brush work, the brush is also removed and damaged. If after removing a creeper it becomes apparent that the fence has sagged beneath the capping and needs repair it can be much more difficult and in some cases impossible to lift or repair the brushwork.
Severe Creeper Damage
Typical Creeper Damage
Creeper unmanaged can also be a disaster. The sheer weight of a creeper can topple a fence especially on a common fence, where one neighbour trims their side and the other doesn't.
Regular maintenance of existing creeper and trees growing close to fences and avoiding planting new trees too close to the fence can save a lot of money later on. Avoiding planting tree varieties whose roots cause ground upheaval is also wise. Tree damage is covered by many insurance companies.
The neighbour on one side of a common fence has removed the creeper on their side only, leaving a huge mass and weight of creeper on the other side!
The weight of creeper on one side has dragged the brushwork to that side, taking the capping with it and exposing the posts. It is not possible to restore the fence in this state and removing the creeper from the fence on the other side would not be an easy task!
This old brush fence was so heavily encased in creeper that the only option was a bobcat and tipper prior to a new fence installation.
The client started to remove the creeper from this fence but eventually realised that replacement was the best option as the brush and wiring had been damaged.
Often it is cheapest just to repair a fence in the non creepered sections and leave the creeper in place.
The fence was replaced.
The only option here is the tip and fence replacement.
Quite often soil will be introduced for a garden bed alongside a brush fence and the brush will be used as a retainer. Wet soil against brush will cause it to rot and deteriorate very quickly relative to the rest of the fence. The weight of the soil can also dislodge the fence of its base, causing sagging and the characteristic gap at the top of the fence. If soil needs to be built up against the fence, then a hardwood plank should be first placed against the posts prior to soil placement. That will provide a gap for air to circulate and prevent the brush from coming of its base. Note: fence posts will usually only support 150mm or so of backfill as they are not designed for retaining wall purposes. If any greater depths of fill are incurred, the fence will begin to lean after a period of time. Sprinkler systems can also damage brushwork, where the sprays keep the brush permanently wet, causing rot, or where heavy knocker type sprinklers can cause mechanical damage to old, brittle, brush. This type of damage is not covered by insurance.
Graffiti damage on brush fencing is not as prevalent as with other types of masonry and iron fencing, however it does occur and when it does, the only remedy to hand-packed brushwork is to 'face' or veneer the section with a thin covering of brush. This is not difficult to do and can be seamlessly repaired. It is usually covered by household insurance less any excess.
Typical Graffiti Damage to Brush Fencing
Best repair results are achieved when light grey coloured brush is used to 'face' over the damage ie to avoid a dark patch in the fence which occurs when dark butted brush is used.
Graffiti is best repaired by facing over the masterpiece with a new thin layer of brush. Attempts to wire brush the paint off the fence or paint over the damage or remove with solvent are largely unsuccessful.
It is generally not practical to fit extra brush to machine-packed panels to cover grafitti damage due to the proximity and size of the wire staples and density of the old brushwork, but damaged panels can be easily replaced.