Installing a Picket Fence on Unlevel Ground

What You'll Need
Wooden stakes
Tape measure
Post hole digger
Circular saw
Deck screws
Paint color of choice

The picket fence is the traditional American choice for fencing, as it delineates and frames your property line without standing tall. Installing a picket fence on unlevel ground is slightly trickier than on level ground, but is not a task that will result in blood, sweat and tears.

Step 1 - Making the Fence Outline

Decide where the fence line will run on your property. Set up a fence outline using the wooden stakes and the twine. Start by setting wooden stakes in each corner or angle of the fence outline and connect these stakes with the twine.

Take the measuring tape and start measuring from one stake. Measure 8 feet along the twine and make a mark with a small piece of tape on the twine. Make sure there is exactly 8 feet between the tape markings, as the tape marks where the fencing posts will be installed.

Step 2 - Preparing and Installing the Fence Posts

Cut the posts to the desired height using the circular saw. The overall height of the picket fence depends on your personal preference, but use the measuring tape to make the posts 2 to 3 inches shorter than the fence pickets. You should add an additional 24 inches for the posts' lengths, as this is the amount that will be in the ground.

Dig the post holes in the ground underneath the tape markings. The post holes should be 10 to 12 inches in length, while the width depends on the posts' measurements. The post hole should be at least 24 inches deep to support the picket fence. Place one post into each hole and cover the remaining space around the post with the soil dug up.  

Step 3 - Connecting the Fence Posts

Prepare two 8-foot long 2-by-4 wooden pieces, called runners, for each space between the posts. These pieces will connect the fence posts and create a base for the pickets once they are installed.

Install the wooden runners by installing one horizontally 3 inches above the ground and one horizontally 3 inches below the top of the posts. Attach the wooden runners to the posts by screwing the 3-inch long treated deck screws into the posts through the runners. Make sure the ends of the runners line up in the middle of the posts, so there is space for the other runners on the opposite side of the posts.

Repeat the runner installation until each post has four runner pieces attached to it. There should be 2 pieces on each side of the post 3 inches below the top of the post and 2 pieces on each side of the post, 3 inches above the ground.

Step 4 - Connecting the Pickets

Place the first picket vertically, so it covers both of the runners. Use the level to ensure it is straight. There should be the same amount of space between the picket and post as the size of a regular picket. Use a picket as a space indicator when installing the pickets.

Attach the first picket to the wooden runners by drilling 2 treated deck screws into each of the runners through the picket. Place a picket right next to the installed picket and make 2 small marks on the runners where it ends. This indicates where the next picket will be installed. Continue installing the pickets in this manner until the picket fence is complete.

Step 5 - Finishing the Picket Fence

Use the circular saw to cut any pickets that are too high on the picket fence. Keep in mind that the picket should only be 3 inches taller than the fence posts.

Paint the picket fence once the installation has been completed.