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How early in the spring can you build a fence or deck?

Watch for frost and soggy conditions on the spring lawn before starting your fence or deck.
Watch for frost and soggy conditions on the spring lawn before starting your fence or deck.
photo courtesy of Nick Lobek - sxc/nilob


Many people are watching the snow melt away with eager minds. They have an outdoor project on the back burner and it’s almost time to begin.

But when can you start to build that fence or deck in the spring? What signs should you be looking for and when should you keep waiting?


There are a few conditions that need to be met before it becomes feasible to build a deck or fence in the early spring.


The Disappearance of Frost


This is not an absolute necessity (many construction companies will break through deep layers of frost in the middle of winter), but your body and equipment will thank you if you wait for the frost to melt away.


Even a few inches of hard frost under the soggy grass or soil will be hard on your shovel or auger when digging the post holes. Avoid unnecessary strain (and back pain) by waiting until the frost has gone.


Test this by inserting a stake into the area and seeing how far down it goes easily. You’ll know if you have hit stubborn frost.


If you’re having the project done by a contractor, ask them if there are any additional costs should they have to break through frost. Some will want to come and inspect the yard before committing to a start date.


If your lawn has been snow covered for most of the winter, the frost should not be overly deep. The areas that have only a thin blanket of snow and are exposed to cold wind and freezing air tend to have the heaviest frost build up.


A Dry Spell


April showers bring May flowers and we are all for that, right? But March thaw and April showers also leave the yard sopping and the mud heavy and thick to dig through and work in.


Watch the condition of the grass to see when it has dried up enough to efficiently tread across while building your project. Not only will you need to walk the length of the fence while installing or stand and move a lot in the deck area, but you need a place to pile the lumber that won’t leave a mess.


Many flower beds need replanting and sod needs replacing if the still mushy ground is repeatedly walked over. You don’t need to wait for June, but just don’t be out there until you are confident it won’t severely damage the lawn or garden.


Spring is nearly here and you may be itching to start the fence or deck project. Once these two aspects are looked after, you can get to it and really enjoy the spring season.

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