Protecting Your Privacy: How to Build a DIY Fence Around Your Property


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A fence gives your property more privacy and intimacy. It also can protect your pets from getting hit by cars. And, a fence adds value to your home.

When it comes to fencing, the biggest decisions you have to make are in regards to the style and aesthetic of your fence. But, when it comes to putting it up, the process is straight forward.

This article provides a complete step-by-step guide on how to build a fence around your property.

Before You Can Build a Fence…

Before you begin the fence building process, check out the local building codes for your area. The homeowners association also has guidelines on the type, size, and location of your fence. And, find out if you need a building permit for a fence.

Your fence will butt up to the line of your neighbor’s property, so have a conversation with them about your plans. Ask them where their property line begins and ends. Determine the best location for your full corner pickets to go.

Consider the way in which a fence will obstruct sunlight on garden beds in spring and summer. Plan out where you want to place the gates in your fence. Gates also require driving in a full picket for stability.

High-quality gates or fences raise the value of your home when you resell. A poorly made fence, however, can have the exact opposite effect. Before you build, use graph paper to draft a blueprint of your fence plan.

A fence is tough to build with just two hands. Enlist a building buddy and the job will be much more efficient. A buddy with their own DIY tools is a useful asset when building a fence.

When you sketch out your fence plan, take into account the attachment hardware you are using to mount the gates. Some fencing material–which you can view here–is flush with the side of the fence, and others are not. The mounting hardware affects the placement of your full pickets.

The last piece of diligence is to call 811 to make sure there are not any utility or gas lines hiding under the ground.  

How to Build a Fence: Step-by-step DIY Guide

A good idea for homeowners is to have your property surveyed by a professional. This gives you the most accurate property line, allowing you to plan your fence accordingly. If you have a large piece of land, a survey is especially important for accuracy in the placement of your fence posts.

Step 1. Set the Corner Posts

The corner posts of your fence are the most important element of your fences stability. If the corners are off-set the rest of the fence will follow. You need a post hole digger or an auger to make the hole.

Using your post hole digger or auger make a vertical hole at least three feet deep. Place your full picket in the hole and drive it into the ground with a sledgehammer.

Another option is to fill in your hole with concrete, making a concrete footing. You can attach your corner posts directly to the concrete footing, or allow the concrete to dry around the post.

Step 2: Spacing Your Fence Posts

The stability of your fence comes from the posts. Posts are the upright members to which the horizontal rails attach. Most fences have posts every six to eight feet.

Mark your post locations using a string line and spray paint. Run the line between the uprights to mark the trajectory of your fence wall. Carefully measure and mark each post located between the corner posts.  

Refer to your blueprint to determine where the gate posts go. Install the gate posts using the same process as the corner posts.

Step 3: Prep Your Post Holes

In order to withstand natural forces, like high winds and debris, set your fence posts so that a full third of the post is buried. On the precise spots, that you marked in the previous step, use your post hole digger to dig the holes.

On one of your fence posts, mark a line to signify the appropriate depth for your holes. Use this post as a master with which to measure the depth of each hole before putting in the post.

If you are using untreated wood, use a wood preservative on the section that gets buried in the ground.

Step 4: Set the Fence Posts

Before you place the posts in the holes, shovel in two or three scoops of gravel. The gravel ensures that your posts remain sturdy, without sinking into the dirt over time.

Placing the post into the hole, use levels to make sure the post is not slanting. When it is level, anchor the posts with wire and stakes. Each post should have four stakes to ensure it remains level.

Fill in around the post with dirt. Use a dirt tamper to pack the dirt tightly around the post. Keep in mind, your posts must be at least two feet in the ground, no matter how short the fence is.

Step 5: Attach Fence Rails to Posts

The fence rails span the length between your fence posts. Now that you have each post level and securely set into the ground you can add your rails. Start at a corner post and attach a top rail between it and the nearest post.

Repeat this process all the way around your fence–leaving out the spaces for your entry gate. The easiest way to attach the rails is with a nailgun and butting the ends of the rails up against each other. This is called a butt joint.

Once the top rails are attached, repeat the process with bottom rails. The top rails an bottom rails should be equidistant from each other, all the way around your fence.

Step 6: Install the Fence Boards

The final step to how to build a fence that looks good is to install fence boards all the way around. Fence boards are vertical and mount directly to your top and bottom fence rails. Boards butt up flush with each other, or they can be spaced slightly apart to allow light to shine through.

The easiest method is to join the edges of each board together. Starting in a fence corner, use a level to ensure your first board is perfectly true, and attach it with a nail gun.

Butt up your second board against the side of the first and nail it in. Repeat this process all the way around your fence.

Final Thoughts

Every few boards, make sure that they are going in level. And that is all there is to it! Now, you can build your own DIY fence around your property with confidence and efficiency.

If you like this article on how to build a fence around your property, share it with others on social media. And check out the blog for more posts about DIY building projects. Thanks for reading!