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Fencing With Wildlife in Mind

Seminole County, Florida is one of the few places in Central Florida left that still has expansive wild lands. Across the county, you can find wetlands, pastures, farms, forests, hammocks, and many other diverse ecosystems. This natural beauty is what draws many to this region, but it is an ongoing battle to keep Seminole County natural.

One of the pressing issues that Oviedo and Geneva face is urban sprawl, which is described as the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas. Take a drive through Orlando, and you will see this. Apartments being built all along Highway 50, subdivisions popping up by the dozens. This rapid expansion is pushing more and more into Seminole County.

When wild lands are sold for developments, wildlife need to find new homes, which is often the properties of residents in Oviedo and Geneva, those homeowners who have large pieces of land. It is not unusual for a landowner to want to keep deer, wild hogs, or other wildlife off their properties, but sometimes a land barrier can be dangerous to animals, including your own. This article will cover how to choose the best fence for your needs that will be safe for wildlife.

The Ideal Wildlife-Friendly Fence

The ideal wildlife friendly fence is highly visible, allows wildlife to jump over or pass under, and allows wildlife with access to important habitats.

Many agricultural fences are constructed using high-tensile wire or barbed wire, which is usually safe for livestock, but can be deadly for wildlife attempting to clear a fence line. Many times, deer trying to jump a fence will get tangled in woven wire or snagged and caught on barbed wire. This results not only in a slow death for the animal, but a messy clean up and costly repair for the homeowner. Unfortunately, this scenario is extremely common.

Researchers at Utah State University completed a wildlife mortality study along 600+ miles of fence in both Utah and Colorado and studied which fence type is the most problematic for wildlife.

The findings were that on average, one ungulate per year was found for every 2.5 miles of fence due to being snared and entangled. Most animals (69% of juveniles and 77% of adults) died from getting caught in the top two wires while drying to jump over a fence. They also concluded that juveniles are 8 times more likely to die in a fence than adults, and that woven wire fences with a top wire made of barbed wire was the most lethal fence type.

There are simple steps to avoid these issues, including using a smooth top and bottom wire on fences, allowing at least 12 inches between the top two wires and 16 inches between the bottom wire and the ground, and keeping the top rail at 42 inches or shorter.

Another issue that researchers found with fences is that they often blocked wildlife from crossing and left many young ungulates blocked and stranded. 90% of carcasses found dead next to, but not in fence, were fawns whom were most likely separated from their mothers due to their inability to cross a woven wire fence. Had there been a 16-inch space between the bottom wire and the ground, they would have been able to slip under. It is important to use a smooth wire on the bottom wire so that wildlife who crawl under do not get snagged. A cut from barbed wire can become infected and be lethal to wildlife.

Fence posts were also found to be an issue. Many land owners use open vertical pipes for line and gate posts and have earned the name “death pipes”. This is because open vertical pipes have been found to be silent killers of birds, reptiles, and small mammals whom are looking for a safe nesting area. Once in the pipe, it is almost impossible to escape up the smooth sides. To prevent this, fill pipes with concrete or use caps to cover any open pipes.

Another safety concern is the visibility of the fence. This is especially important if you live near grasslands or marshlands. Many times, low flying birds will not see a wire fence and become entangled and unable to escape. Seminole county is home to a handful of endangered species, including two large low-flying birds, the Sandhill Crane and the Wood Stork. These are federally protected birds that face danger if they cannot see your fence lines. A ranch rail style fence is visible, but wire fencing is not always.

To fix this, add a top board to your fence line (just make sure the fence is still shorter than 42 inches!) or, for a more affordable option, run the wire through a PVC pipe for a highly visible line, or simply flag the fence line.

You may be thinking, “do I really need a fence? Or can I just use boundary markers?”. Many times, using boundary markers can be less expensive to install and maintain long term. They can be as simple as short posts in the ground with no wire between, or hedge rows. If you choose to do a hedge row, make sure that the species you choose is not an invasive species. Invasive species will often over grow and become difficult to handle.

If you need to use an exclusion fence, be sure to not fence in large areas that include wildlife habitats. For any fence type, place gates in the corners of the fence lines. Trapped animals are more likely to find the exit if it is in a corner. Deer exclusion fences should be a minimum of 7 feet tall, made with woven wire. Add a top rail for added visibility.

Making some of these minor changes will not only benefit wildlife, but landowners as well. Visible or covered wire lowers the chance of an animal to get caught in the fence, damaging sections at a time. The guidelines don’t just apply to wildlife, livestock often get stuck in fencing as well. Remember that a wildlife friendly fence is often low cost, and saves money long term by reducing future fence repair. Consider your options today.

Fencing on Lakes in Seminole County and Central Florida

Attention All Home Owners in Florida.  If you live on a lake or are purchasing a new home on a lake in Seminole County, Orange County, The City of Winter Park, or The City of Orlando, be prepared to hear a new term when you are trying to install a fence.  Where is the Normal High-water Elevation Mark  (NHWE) on your land survey?   Understand, the absence of the NHWE will bring your fence project to a screeching halt.   You will not pass go.  Your fence project will be dead on the water’s edge.

Here is why:   The Normal Highwater Elevation Mark is the base-line from which Municipalities determine the set back of the fence from the water’s edge, both horizontally and perpendicularly. The NHWE, in some municipalities, determines the height, style, and materials that can be used.   Understand, without this mark, you cannot begin the process of permitting.  The application will automatically be rejected.

Chances are if your reading this, you need an NHWE added to your land survey.   The best thing you can do is call the company back who did the original land survey and ask them to add it.   Be prepared, this costs money.  Some land survey companies do not do NHWE, so you might have to have your property completely resurveyed.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  It is important if you are buying a home on a lake to confirm that the surveying company selected includes all necessary marks associated with a titled body of water.  Next, make sure the survey company being suggested by a real estate agent, seller, or title company is qualified to handle lakes.

So how do you determine if your current survey has an NHWE mark? It's simple.  Look where the property meets the waters edge.  You will see words like Edge of Water, Survey Closure Line, Flood Zone ratings, or Elevation Measurements.  These are important and should be included, but don’t be fooled.  These are not the Normal High-water Elevation Mark.  See the two surveys below.   The land survey on the Left does not include all the necessary marks

Incorrect Survey:                                       Correct Survey:

 

Types of Field Fences

Wood Horse Fence

Wood is the most common option for horse fences. It is sturdy, cost efficient, and has the rustic appearance that many land owners look for. It is a good choice for a horse fence material, but make sure to take into consideration all options.

Wood fencing, over time, can shrink, warp, discolor, and need minor routine maintenance.  That does not sound like a huge issue, but having to repair a mile of fencing can be a big job. Wood fencing is recommended to be painted to help horses see it, as they are both far-sighted and may not see well at night. A horse plowing into a fence can damage the fence, and harm the horse. Keeping the paint maintained can also be a task.

Wood is sturdy, but ensure that the correct posts are being used to anchor the fence into the ground. For wood fencing, Custom Fence Oviedo does not recommend anchoring with concrete, as concrete holds moisture and will actually speed up the process of post rot. The key to post installation is to have leverage over the above ground section. For example, a 6' tall fence will use 4" x 4" x 10' line posts to provide the correct leverage ratio.

For a horse fence, it's ideal to use a mesh wiring to help prevent the horse to step through the fence. A 2" x 4" wire is best for horses, as it prevents them from stepping through or getting caught in it. Horses are much more likely to fight in a situation where they're stuck than other livestock, and their thinner skin than livestock can make getting stuck in wire a life-threatening situation for them. It is also recommended to use a "no climb" wire mesh, that has openings that are too small for the horse to step up on.

Regardless of material, it is important to understand the height requirements and number of boards necessary to property house a horse. For young horses, the fence should be a minimum for 4.5 feet tall, and be a 3-rail to help prevent the horse from stepping through. Adult horses will require a height of 5 to 6 feet tall and be a 4 or 5 rail to help discourage the horse from jumping or leaning over. Pairing the correct heights, rail numbers, and wiring will assist in choosing the safest and most efficient fence for your horse.

Aluminum and Vinyl Horse Fence

Other options for horse fencing materials include both aluminum and vinyl.

Aluminum

Aluminum is not often seen, but is ideal if building between concrete columns. It is recommended for use in the fronts of properties for aesthetic purposes, or for businesses such as equestrian centers or stable rentals. Custom Fence Oviedo recommends Alumi-Guard aluminum products. Aluminum horse fences have an expensive upfront cost, but require less maintenance than other materials. They are available in 7 different powder-coated long lasting colors.

Aluminum horse fences are available in 2, 3, and 4-rail options and in 8-foot wide sections.

 

Vinyl

Vinyl horse fence has a moderate upfront cost, and is a great option for both horse fences and decorative field fences. Vinyl fencing is a plastic polymer, which helps give the fence a bit of flexibility if a horse were to lean against it. Custom Fence Oviedo recommends Homeland Vinyl products, which are high quality vinyl products containing titanium dioxide as a UV inhibitor. The pigments used in their colored products also contain UV protectants. This is ideal for land owners who want their white fence to stay white without much work.

Although less work than wood, vinyl horse fences are not as strong. The posts and rails are hollow, meaning they may crack if a horse were to lean too hard, or run into the fence.

Vinyl horse fences are available in 2, 3, 4, and 5-rail options and in 8-foot wide sections.

 

 

Field Fence

Field fence, sometimes called deer fence, is another option.

 

If your goal is to keep something in or out of your property, including both livestock or predators, the most cost effective option for your needs may be field fencing. Field fencing in constructed of wooden line posts and mesh wire (oftentimes "no-climb wire). They may feature a wood top rail, depending on the purpose of the fence.

Field Fence is often used around gardens or fields to keep grazing deer out, or as a simple barrier for grazing livestock such as sheep, goats, and cattle.

Wired Field fence is an affordable and effective way to fence in a property. It is available up to six foot in height and can be customized to fit both you and your property's specific needs.

 

Barbed Wire Fence

Barbed wire fencing was the first fencing type found to be able to restrain cattle, and began being used in the mid-1800's. Today, barbed wire remains the most popular livestock fencing because of its availability and affordability.

Barbed wire is relatively affordable to install yourself or have installed, due to the materials required. Most barbed wire fences consist of only wooden posts with wire ran in between. Standard barbed wire fencing usually has the posts spaced 5 to 6 feet apart, and 3 to 5 strands of wire ran between. The galvanized wire come in three categories: classes I, II, and III. Class I has the thinnest coating and shortest life expectancy. Class I wires will begin to show rust after around 8 to 10 years, while Class III won't until around 15 to 20 years. Aluminum coated wiring is sometimes used and yields a longer life.

 

There are many options to string a barbed wire fence, including:

Hand-Knotting:   Wire is wrapped around corner posts and knotted by hand. This is the most common method.

Crimp Sleeves:   Wire is wrapped around corner posts and bound to incoming wire with metal sleeves, that are then crimped using lock cutters. This method should be avoided because the sleeves tend to slip when under tension. This method is best used for repairs in the middle of the fence line.

Wire Vise:   Wire is passed through a hole drilled into the post, and is anchored onto the far side.

Wire Wrap:   Wire is wrapped around a corner post, and wrapped onto a helical wire, which wraps onto an incoming wire. Friction holds the wire into place.

 

While affordable, barbed wire fencing requires a high amount of upkeep. It is also dangerous to most livestock, including pigs, sheep, goats, horses, and calves. It is only recommended for use with fully-grown cattle, and even then, is seen as a controversial form of fencing. This is due in part to the fact that it is dangerous for wildlife. Low flying birds or bats can have their wings ripped by the top wire, and many are too high or not visible for deer, moose,  or anther animals to clear while jumping. They may get tangled in the wire and give themselves fatal energy, or die a slow death if they can not escape.

How Can I Get Barbed Wire Without Injuring Animals?

If you're dead set on a barbed wire fence, or can't afford another type of agricultural fence, there are a few ways to make your barbed wire fence safer to your livestock and wildlife. You can use small PVC pipes along the top wire of the fence to help aid in the fences visibility, and use smooth wire as the bottom wire so that animals crawling underneath don't become injured.

 

If you're not sure which fence type will be the best option for both your needs and the surrounding environment, visit our Fencing With Wildlife In Mind article.

 

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Fence?

Yes. Yes! Yes!!  If you want to build a fence or custom fence within the city limits of Oviedo, or any Central Florida municipality,  that fence must be permitted. 

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Fence Question of The Month

Question:  Help Please!!!  One of the larger fence companies here in Central Florida Installed my vinyl fence.  A tree destroyed a few sections of my fence during the past hurricane.  I called several fence companies for estimates and was told by one company that the manufacturer no longer sold fence in Florida.  One company said that is not true.  The other company even suggested I needed to start over because 1 ½ x 5 ½ rail was the industry standard.   The best I can tell, my fence rails measure 1 3/4 thick x 5 ½ deep.  What is going on?? – Kathy C.

Answer:   First and foremost, great question.  The 1 ¾” x 5 ½” is a distinct premium-grade Vinyl rail system produced by Homeland Vinyl Products, who is a major manufacturer of PVC Fence, Deck, and Rail products which are widely distributed throughout North America. As a result, their manufacturing and distribution footprints are massive, especially here in Florida.

There is a reason for that. Homeland Vinyl is an innovative and research-based company that understands the unique geographical challenges of the U.S. climate, region by region.  As a result, Homeland Vinyl has branded itself as an industry leader.  They are responsible for vinyl breakthroughs and technologies such as the ACCU-Shield.  They are endorsed as a Tier 1 manufacturer by the Vinyl Manufacture Association and are highly sought after by fence companies and distributors alike. Simply put: Were they go, people grow.

So Why Are You Having Trouble Finding 1 ¾” x 5 ½”  Vinyl Rail?  

It sounds like the company who installed your fence and Homeland Vinyl Products parted ways after a multi-year relationship.  This particular fence company/retailer sold to both homeowners and small fence contractors across the State of Florida.  So chances are that vinyl fence you see while driving down the street is a Homeland Vinyl Fence.

This breakup, or what we in the industry call the shuffling of manufactures, has created a lot of incorrect information within our market. Regardless, it is business and there is nothing wrong with manufactures partnering with fence companies to bring fences to the market.  These type of agreements do a great service in helping homeowners find cost-effective fencing solutions.  The good news is these breakups create lots of new opportunities.

We did reach out to Homeland Vinyl Products at the American Fence Association National Conference in Phoenix Arizona.  They have assured Custom Fence Oviedo that Homeland Vinyl Products is absolutely committed to the Florida Market.  So much so, they have already begun the process of opening another extrusion facility right here in Orlando.  They are hopeful that extrusion plant should be up and operational by late this year.

We would like to thank Homeland Vinyl Products for sharing their distributor list and fence companies who carry and sell their products.  So if you are a homeowner looking for a replacement 1 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ vinyl rail, a homeowner needing a vinyl fence, or a fence contractor needing materials, several distributors and fence companies are still selling Homeland Vinyl Product right here in Florida.  See the list below:

Distributors:                        Person To Ask For:                     Location:                                               Phone:
Orlando Steel                        Steve Lyons                                 Summerfield and Ocala                         352.347.8775
Merchant Metals                    Danny Gall                                  Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami                    813.980.0938
Paramount Fencing               Kip Hudakoz                                Orlando Florida                                      407.341.2720

On a final note, several manufacturers and extruders are starting to enter into the Florida marketplace.  Heads up and word to the wise.  Not all vinyl is created equal, nor are manufacturers who extrude vinyl.  Understand, the process of extruding vinyl is technical and requires years and years of industry knowledge.  As always, purchase responsibly.  Make sure that the manufacturer is VMA certified. New extruders pop up every day. Very few will last.

We hope this helps and now you know more then your neighbor knows.

If you sell Homeland Vinyl and would like to be added to the list, contact Kip@paramountfencing.com

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