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Installing Fences

Adding a fence to your yard is one way to beautify and improve the value of your property, but you’ll want to consider the steps involved carefully before launching a do-it-yourself project.

While a fence-installation project is certainly within the realm of the DIY homeowner, most of the time, it’s also a labor-intensive task and even more so to fix, if done incorrectly the first time.

In this article, we take a look at some key considerations that are important to any fencing project — from planning to the work itself — and you’ll also find some tips about when a professional installation might be a wise course to take.

Planning the Fence

First, settle on the primary function that you want this fence to perform. Decoration? Security (and decoration)? The materials that you choose, the type and the size of fence that you select, all of these details are deeply tied to the idea behind the fence in the first place.

For decoration and beautification, a small fence of some four-feet — picket or rail, perhaps — will amplify your property without barricading it from the neighborhood or surrounding views. For protection, think more along the lines of a six- or seven-foot installation, either panel or closely-slatted pickets.

There’s also chain-link, which you might use to keep a pet confined to a small area, or add some peace of mind when it comes to young ones playing in the yard. Chain-link, however, is a completely separate kind of installation — full of elements such as tension adjustments and the like. In this post we’re keeping the focus on the wooden variety of fence.

Whichever you choose, Rona offers this advice: talk to your neighbors, re-check your property lines, double-confirm that local easements don’t require anything from you regarding access through your land.

Putting the Fences in the Ground

With your fencing material selected, there are some basic steps and considerations that go along with any installation project.

  • Spacing Fence Posts: Key to any fencing job is the straight and true setting of the fence post. You may need a helper on this part of the task. First, using a hammer and some string, stake out exactly where you mean your fence to go. Tie the string to small stakes, set into the ground, and then hammer in stakes at the intervals where each posts belongs (you figure this out by measuring the width of a length of fencing and then measuring how many of those you need to anchor to posts).
  • Digging Post Holes: Once you’ve got the stakes in place, it’s time to dig the post holes. They’ll need to be sunk into the ground at least one-half the exposed height of the post. So, if your post is six-feet from where it comes out of the ground to the top, you want to set it at least three feet into the soil. Give each hole a width of some five inches on either side of the post.
  • Setting the Posts: Gravel forms the base of the post setting, and then the post goes in. Use a level to make sure it’s straight, then shovel concrete into the hole around the post, a half-a-foot of the stuff should do it, and then wait for all your posts to properly set and then cover with soil.
  • Adding Fencing: The hardest work is out of the way, now it’s time to add the rails, or panel, or whatever style of fence you’ve selected to stretch from post to post. Once they’re attached, stain and weatherproof your work, otherwise buckling and cracking will undo all the effort you just put into your project.

As you can see, installing a fence is certainly a manageable job, but all that digging and cementing might be a task for which you want to bring in a professional.

With a pro on hand, there’s the option to use a power auger to dig the holes, saving time. Also, the potential of a suddenly troublesome bit of landscape — a dip in the topography, or a particularly stony patch during the digging — won’t shut down the project.

The point is: Consider carefully how much help you’ll have on hand, and how much time you have to spend if the post-digging and post-setting phase of the fence installation seems like a possibly thorny part of the project. Remember, you aren’t saving money on hiring help if the money you spend on materials is wasted by a job that gets out of hand!

By James O’Brien

Are you ready to get started? Take a look at eieihome’s directory of fence contractors.

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