As an Arlington, Texas homeowner or property manager, you want the outside of your house to look just as good as the inside. First impressions are important and besides, you have to look at it all the time too. Who doesn’t prefer a neat, well-tended fence line?
Unfortunately, lichen doesn’t help you out in that department. If you’ve got a serious lichen problem, it’s time to learn more about how to kick it to the curb so you can reclaim that … well, curb appeal.
What Is Lichen?
As lichenologist Trevor Goward reportedly said, “Lichens are a case of fungi that have discovered agriculture.” That might be a win for nature’s ingenuity, but it is certainly not a win for you. So, what is it exactly?
“Lichens are a case of fungi that have discovered agriculture.” – Lichenologist Trevor Goward
While it might sometimes look like a moss or even a weed – some lichens have a raised, leafy texture – lichen is a life form all its own. Two, actually: a lichen is made up of a fungus that is living in a symbiotic relationship with algae. Lichens tend to grow on wooden surfaces that are shaded from sunlight, so shadowy corners of your fence and north-facing panels often see hefty growth.
Lichen is known to cause wood to deteriorate over time, weakening your fence and making it look unsightly. As lichen is generally gray to green in color, it typically clashes significantly with the brown, red or blond color of fencing, making it hard to hide.
Thankfully, lichen can be easily removed from a wooden fence. There are several different methods to do so.
Use a Pressure Washer to Remove the Mold and Lichen
First, clear plants, prune them or tie them back. The pressure washer can seriously damage your plants, so if you have any particularly fragile specimens, cover them with buckets or tarps.
Next, set your cleaner to low pressure, between 100 and 135 bar. Stand back at least 50 centimeters (about a foot and a half) from the fence and turn on the pressure washer. Remember not to keep pressure on the same point of the fence for too long, as it can start to chip away at the wood. Check out this tutorial if you need a reminder of the basics.
Sweep the fence slowly with the pressure washer until there are no more signs of lichen, or until the only spots left are too stubborn to come off after 20 seconds.
Scrubbing the Fence by Hand
Still see some spots? Don’t worry, it’s not hopeless.
As with the first technique, you will need to protect your plants near the fence by covering them with tarps or buckets. Next, mix one part bleach and one part water in a bucket. Add a mild detergent (such as dish soap) at a ratio of one teaspoon per liter of water/bleach mixture.
Once your mixture is prepared, get a large, tough scrub brush and go to town. Soak it in the solution, remembering to keep it away from grass or flower beds; bleach will kill your plants as well as lichen. When you’re finished and no spots remain, rinse the entire area thoroughly with a garden hose and allow it to dry.
Finally, examine the fence and sand out any rough parts. If necessary, repair damaged parts or hire professional fencing specialists to come out and fix them up for you. Once the entire fence line is in good working order, apply a wood stain or paint over its entirety to prevent future growth.
Additional Fence Care Tips
The easiest way to get rid of lichen is to avoid getting it in the first place. Here are some tips to help you protect your fence from the get-go:
- Prune your plants so they never touch the wood. The more sunlight you can get between the fence and growing things, the better. Remember, lichen needs shade, so a dose of sunlight is the best method of prevention. Ditto for moss and mildew growth.
- Never clean your fence during wet weather. A fence that doesn’t dry quickly only encourages lichen to come back faster.
- Inspect your fence routinely to prevent small damages and to ensure you catch lichen quickly before it becomes a major problem.
If you routinely follow these tips, you shouldn’t have much trouble maintaining a beautiful, lichen-free fence over time.
Your Trusted Fencing Specialists
Of course, knowing your fence needs treatment and actually getting the job done are two different things. In some cases, the fence is too far gone and will need to be replaced. In others, it is still salvageable, but some parts will need replacing.
Not sure what stage your fence is at? Our team at A&O Texas Solutions is happy to come out and take a look, and if you need a new one, we’ll get you sorted. All you need to do is get in touch with us today to get yourself on the road to a lichen-free future!