The Right Wood Fence

The most common wood fence, at least in the middle Tennessee area, is the 6 ft. high dog-eared picket pressure treated wood fence. This fence is very easy to build and gives you privacy.

Pick the fence you are looking for by picking the specific design to satisfy your needs. Do you want a dog-eared picket, scallop top either up or down, shadow box or something else?

Next, where is the fence going to be placed? Will it follow the property line or just fence in a smaller area in the yard.

If you are going to follow the property line, do you have a copy of the plat that should have been given to you when you purchased the property? Does the plat show the property corners and how they are marked? Can you find the corners?

I’m sure you do not want to place the fence in your neighbors yard! Do you want to place the fence inside your property line and give a piece of you property to you neighbor? Probably not.

Make sure where the property lines are before you do anything. If you are not able to clearly identify the property line, call for a survey.

Check with your local building code department to determine if you need a permit. If you do, get one.

Are you ready to design a fence and determine cost? The example I’m going to use is the dog-eared wood fence like the one below.
Dog Eared Fence

If you are building a 6 foot tall fence, plan on placing a 4×4 fence post every eight feet. Then plan for two 2X4s placed horizontally. The first will be approximately 8 inches above the ground and the second 60 inches above the ground. Iif this is a high traffic area, place a third 2X4 halfway between.

Next figure how many 1”X6”X6’ dog eared wood fence pickets you will need for the fence . Remember the board is actually 5/8”X5 ½”X72”. There are 17.45 fence boards for every 8 foot section. Two 2x4x8 for the rails and one 4x4x8 for the post. You will also need one 80-# bag of concrete to set the post in.

When you add all the materials together and divide by 8, you will find the price per linear foot for the fence. Using figures on the web, I calculate the cost to be $5.69 per linear foot. Remember this is your cost without taxes, delivery charges or labor.

Now calculate exactly how many of each piece of material you will need then add 3% to 5% extra for the pickets.

The 2×4 and 4×4 amounts should be exact.

Don’t forget to allow for access by installing gates. Your local big box can offer suggestions on kits that make gate building really easy.

Now that you know exactly where the property line is. Layout where you want the fence. Place 2×2 wood stakes at the corners and tie a string to them marking the fence line. Measure for the upright wood fence post and drew a white circle in marking paint on the ground where the post are to be located.

Do not start digging yet. First look in your local telephone directory, usually on page 1 where the emergency numbers are located. You will find a phone number for the state provided ONE-CALL System. Call them. Why, you ask!

They will call everyone that has a right-of-way for anything on your property. They will come out and mark where and if anything is on your property. If you do not call and you manage to find a telephone line or a cable line or anything and you damage it, you will pay for the repair. The repair bill will be astronomical! So, ALWAYS CALL THEM FIRST!

After all the utilities have visited your property and given you the all clear, or marked where you must be careful, it’s time to start. Depending upon your terrain, this could be easy or difficult.

Sand is easy to dig, but the sides cave in. Dirt is usually not too hard. Clay is difficult to say it mildly. Rock is absolutely the worst! For the sake of this discussion, let’s say you have dirt or clay. Go to your local tool rental and get a two-man auger with a 6 inch bit. This makes to job so much easier! Drill down two feet and drop the 4×4 in the hole.

After all the holes are dug, start setting the 2x4s on the 4x4s. I prefer using a pneumatic nail gun with 3 inch or 3 ½ inch ring shank galvanized nails.

This will line everything up and help keep everything square .

After all the framework is in place and everything is square, pour the concrete. This will KEEP everything square. Check your work with a level often.

Now comes the easy part. The picket boards are nailed up using a 1 ½ inch to 2 inch ring shank nail. Make sure the pressure in the nail gun does not force the nail points through the backside of the 2x4s.

Place the pickets at each end of the wood fence and tie a tight string line at the top. This will be the reference point to getting the top of the fence straight.

DAVE’S TIP: I prefer to place the pickets right next to each other with no spaces. When the boards dry out you will have 1/8 to ¼ inch gap.

Some fence builders prefer to start out with a gap and watch it grow. It really depends on your area and the humidity factor.

The lower the humidity the more the boards will shrink.

Gates are necessary for access into the fenced area. When you plan the fence post locations, you should allow for these gate openings. Build and install them now per the manufacturers specifications.

See how easy that was? I hope you enjoy your new wood fence!

The Right Wood Fence to Building a Wood Fence

To Outside Yard Projects

Dave Altman

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