Advice on fence

I recently built a 6' 3-rail privacy fence with 1x4x6 pickets on 2x3x8 rails on 4x4 posts. There is a 2" gap between the pickets and the ground, so the pickets rely on the 3 rails for support. Now I see that a couple of bottom rails have a faily large hole in them (I forgot to check every rail individually for knots). They look ok now - no sagging - but I'm afraid they might break in time. What's the best way to reinforce these rails? Put a little 2x3 section like a band-aid above the "hole"?
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A splice made up of the pickets placed above and below the hole might be less obvious (thinner wood). You can also get metal brackets to screw across the gap which have little profile and can be painted over to make it even less obvious.
OTOH, you can also wait for it to break before fixing it.
If you have loose knots or large checks, you can fill them with polyurethane glue then sand and paint over that
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On 5 Jun 2006 08:04:01 -0700, dale snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

worry about it after one breaks.
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For the truly ready-to-fail boards with large knots, just go get another complete 2x3x8 for each one and sister the new board above the weak one. Here's the thought:
There are two forces on these stringer boards - vertical due to weight and horizontal due to wind as well as children's soccer balls bouncing off the fence. Those fence pickets are very soft wood. The only way that the strength can be fully improved is to connect to the posts on each end.
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Thanks for all your suggestions. This is such an informative and educational forum. Now I have to decide which option to pursue - I think I'm going to put in some glue and find a metal bracket! (Metal is stronger than pickets). And if the rail breaks, there is always the sister rail option...
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Wouldn't the lowest/bottom backer rails/stringer boards be subject to the highest load from all the weight of the pickets in the panel, since the pickets are hanging and not resting on the ground? I think the OP has good reason to worry about breakage if there is a big hole in the wood where the knot was.
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