If you live in a high-precipitation area, you have to be very careful about your choice of materials when installing a wooden fence. You may want the aesthetic appeal of a more unique material choice, such as willow, bamboo, or tiger wood, but many of these exotic wood types warp and rot quickly when exposed to moisture. Choose wood from one of the below 2 types of native-to-the-United-States trees to give your fence the stand-out appearance you crave and the durability to withstand all kinds of inclement weather.
Osage orange is a widely distributed deciduous tree in the south-central United States. This very special tree ranges in color from honey yellow to deep brown, and it's known to produce among the densest, most rot-resistant wood in North America. For those not interested in harvesting its impenetrable lumber, Osage orange is considered a nuisance tree. It grows into a deeply-rooted, rock-solid barrier with vicious thorns and branches that refuse to break down when trimmed and left to decay.
For those who need a durable wood that will withstand years of precipitation and moisture, however, Osage orange is as good as it gets. This wood is so durable that the living trees it is harvested from were actually planted to pen up cattle before barbed wire was invented.
A further testament to the indestructibility of the Osage orange tree occurred during the Great Depression. President Roosevelt relieved destitute farmers in the Great Plains of their soil erosion problems by planting over 220 million Osage orange trees along the borders of their crop fields. Many of these trees still stand erect, holding dirt inside plots of farmland.
One negative aspect of Osage orange wood is that it's difficult to mill because defects and knots are common in the trees. If you can't find a supplier of Osage orange wood for your fencing project, look for Argentine Osage orange wood -- it's imported from South America and has similar properties but fewer defects, making it easier to mill.
Until recently, ipe wood was the wood of choice for those looking for an extremely rot-resistant lumber. The reason being is that ipe trees produce a high level of protective complex compounds called extractives. These extractives fight against microorganisms that would otherwise eat away at the trees' wood. Unfortunately, ipe trees developed this abundance of extractives because they're harvested from the deep, wet rain forests of South America, where even there they are few and far between.
Ipe trees' incredible weather-resistance coupled with their low availability make acquiring ipe wood an expensive endeavor. Fortunately, there's a similar option that costs significantly less and won't deplete the world of what ipe trees remain.
At the 2011 American Society of Landscape Architects meeting, professional landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh introduced black locust wood as a viable substitute for ipe wood.
Since black locusts are native to the eastern United States where they must survive long, snow-filled winters, they've developed just as much weather resistance than their quickly-disappearing exotic alternatives. Furthermore, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, these trees are almost invasive in their growing nature, and are nowhere near being classified as in danger of extinction.
If you're building a fence in a wet climate zone, black locust wood offers all of the weather-resistance of ipe wood at a fraction of the cost.
Just because you live in a wet climate zone doesn't mean that you have to stick with plain, old, boring cedar or chestnut fencing. For a unique wood choice that can withstand high precipitation levels, choose wood from one of the above 2 trees. Check with a building supplies company like Harrington & Company to see if they can help you get your hands on one of these great wood choices.