Snow Fencing and Sand
By Al Taylor
When we bought our cottage in 1986, the record high water year, there was a small sand beach, and long time residents told us that it would be much larger once the water returned to normal levels. Boy, did we get sand! The water was 60 feet from our front door back then; it’s now 350 feet away.
The water receded dramatically in the second year and in the spring a large sand dune was piled in front of the cottage, tons of it. Lower water and wave action returned the sand with a vengeance and the rest of the summer was spent wheel barrowing it back to the beach. We did not want this to be an annual event, so we considered what to do.
We had two rolls of snow fence at home in Mississauga to stop leaves, so we brought it here and situated it parallel to the water 100 feet from the cottage. Unfortunately, our lack of understanding of sand and wind dynamics led to more sand in the wrong place. We bought more fencing and boxed in the front of the cottage with much better results: less sand around the cottage.
Over the years we have been able to build the depth of the beach by several feet, cover rocks, and direct sand to where we wanted it. My neighbours on either side did the same and we no longer have major sand clean up.
If you have sand, or if you want more, here are a few tips:
Use wood snow fence, not plastic. The wind carrying the sand hits the fence and drops it behind creating a mound.
Sand build up is greater where fences intersect; you can cover rocks or build up low wet areas as well as stop wind erosion.
If you have a slope, put 2 rows of parallel fencing 10 feet apart as well as along the sides of your property.
If you have, say, 3 feet of sand built up at the fence you might leave it permanently and a dune will be created.
Late October is a good time to fence because of high November winds; early April is take-down time.
With time and observation of your local winds you will be able to control the sand movement on the beach.