How to Install a Post and Rail Fence

fence with house in the background and snow everywhere
What You'll Need
Post hole diggers or a power auger
Gravel or rock sediment
Tape measure

If you're looking for an attractive fence that is easy to construct, consider building a post and rail fence. This type of fence is completely of wood, but it requires much less lumber than other types of fences. It is also easy to run along steep hills and slopes. Erecting a post and rail fence requires a lot of work, but you can do it with a few able bodies and some patience.

Step 1 - Lay Out and Measure

To determine the length that each fence rail will need, lay out and measure the fence line across the property. When you do this, ensure that the fence is divided evenly and spaced at equal intervals. Using a predetermined and pre-cut length of rail will help make this task easier and provide for much less cutting.

Step 2 – Dig the Hole For Your Posts

auger digging a hole

You need to dig holes for all of the posts in your fence. While you can do this with post hole diggers, a power auger will make the job much easier and faster.

Make sure to bury at least 1/3 of the length of the post into the ground. Also, add an additional 8 to 12 inches for gravel or rock sediment, which will provide drainage for water that seeps into the hole. Beginning with your corner imposts, dig holes, insert the posts and back fill them with dirt.

Step 3 - Measure for Your Next Post

Use your tape measure and one of the precut rails to determine how far apart from the first post the second post should be. Then, repeat step two and install the second post.

Step 4 – Place the Rails

fence with flowers growing behind it

Next, insert your rails (two per section) into the corner post and the second post. Make sure that they fit tightly and that you make any adjustments that may be required. After you place the rails, go back to the corner post and use the tamper to pack the dirt around the corner post. Do not pack the dirt around the second post until you have installed the third post.

Step 5 - Continue Placing Posts and Rails

After you set the rails between the first and second post, continue repeating steps two and three for all post and rails. Depending on the size of your property, it could take several days to complete the fence project.