Last weekend we built a fence. To date, this was my husband’s least favorite project and I have to be honest, I didn’t love it either (humid, 90-degree weather wasn’t helping our cause). That said, it actually went pretty smoothly thanks to the research we did before starting. There’s a lot out there in the way of project how-to’s (hence I’m not writing one). Wiki-How and the Home Depot tutorials are good places to start, but a simple google search should give you what you need.
Like all DIY projects building your own fence is going to be a unique experience, as each yard is different. Our situation was certainly made a little more complex due to neighbors surrounding fences, an unexpected concrete pad, and semi-awkward gate placement. Nonetheless, we figured it out and ended up with a well-constructed, effective (we can let the dog out!) backyard fence.
Below are some tips (not always covered in the how-to’s) to get you started…
- Talk to your neighbors before building a fence. Beyond it being the general, nice thing to do, it could end up helping you out. In our case, our neighbors existing fence was old and starting to fall over. Unbeknownst to us they were thinking about replacing it anyway. The result – we got to use their existing fence posts (saving us a lot of time and effort installing new ones) and they split the cost of the project with us!
- Look into the exact placement of your property line(s) and local zoning regulations. We had no trouble, as our lines were already marked by existing fences, but most townships have rules about fences, so look into them or ask a neighbor with an existing fence.
- Use treated wood and outdoor-only hardware. This might go without saying, but I almost bought the same screws I’d been using inside just out of habit. Also, even though your buying treated wood, you should still waterproof it after you finish building your fence. The added protection will help it last much longer!
- Know if you want to use individual fence pickets or preassembled privacy panels. We ended up using the pre-assembled option, but it probably made for more work than necessary. Had our yard been very large with lots of panels in a row, then it would have saved us time, but our fencing needs were too small-scale for these large, awkward (and heavy!) preassembled pieces.
- If you are attaching your fence to your house be aware of your home’s construction. You will attach a fence differently depending on the material you’re working with. Brick, wood, terra cotta stone, and cement foundations will all require different methods of securing your fence so know what works best for you.
- Be sure to use a line level when building your fence. In the how-to’s, you’ll see that most of the time is spent measuring, leveling and prepping for actual installation. Don’t skip (or skimp on) these steps! The line level will help you account for the slope changes in the ground, which can be hard to do on your own. And you don’t want to end up with a crooked fence!
After a full weekend plus two weeknights, our fence is finally finished and we love being able to let the dog outside without having to worry. Plus our backyard feels a little more private and uniform looking than it did before. With the patio built and the fence in place we’re making good progress, but we still have one more major project before the full reveal – fixing the existing deck. Cross your fingers for one more sunny weekend and our updated backyard area will finally be complete!