Fence Planning | Fence Layout

Fence Planning and fence layouts should be set in stone before a project begins.  A fence can provide several things: privacy, a weather barrier, containment for children or pets, protection from intruders, or merely decoration. Deciding which is most important to you will lead you to what type of fence you should build.  Fence planning includes deciding on where to put the fence and the fence layout is the first step.

Fence Planning Starts with the Placement

Fence planning deserves some homework by talking to those who have installed fences, peruse magazines, or go online to see all the options available.  There is no limit to the possibilities.  Some of the options in fences one should keep in mind are:

-          chain-link

-          panel

-          picket

-          ranch style

Before starting to build a fence, be sure to:

-          Get the exact plan of the property to find the property line.

-          If there is a home association, see if there are any restrictions of fence placement or type of fence that can be installed.

-          Contact the local utility companies to ensure no pipes or cables are cut once construction starts.  In most cases this service is free.

General Layout Planning

In every case of fence installation there is a basic 6-Step Process:

  1. Place stakes where the posts will go after a string is used to mark off the general area and distance between posts.
  2. Once the stakes are in place, tie the string to each one to maintain a straight line.
  3. Make a mark for a stake about every four feet.
  4. Measure each stake placement to make sure it’s at least three feet away from the house.
  5. Use a tape measure to run diagonally between the three foot mark on the house and the four feet between each stake.  Pull the tape measure out to the five foot mark and use that as the final measurement on where to put the posts.
  6. Use a string to mark these spots to ensure the fence is exactly perpendicular to the home or pool area.

Once the position of the first post is decided, measure out again exactly to the edge of each post to maintain a constant distance.  Make the markings clear so that they are not missed once construction begins.  If the fence is going to be installed on a slope the posts can either follow the grade or be cut in longer and longer lengths to maintain a straight edge.

What to Remember with Posts

Use a post hole digger instead of a shovel when digging post holes to ensure that the holes are straight.  If an auger is used when the ground is too hard for manual excavation, it is a pertinent safety measure to recruit a friend to help.  Find the line where frost will cause the ground to change and dig the hold deeper.  This will keep the post in place during all seasons.

Tips on Post Setting

Put three or four shovel-loads of gravel at the bottom of every hole to help water drainage.  This will help postpone and rot that may decrease the integrity of the wood.  To help ensure that the post stays in an upright position, and perfectly straight, use ready-made concrete about the gravel and then insert the post.  Allow the post to set over night.  The next day use a level to see if the posts are completely upright.

With a spacer, after the placement of every post, measure the distance again to keep the distance of each equal. After the correct distance is found, use dirt to fill the rest of the hole and pack firmly.  If there is an unwanted difference in height a sander or sandpaper can be used to bring the height of a post level with the others.

Installing the Panels

Use a stringer to measure horizontally between posts to determine where the slats will go.  The distance of the slats is completely up to the homeowner and what function the fence will perform.  Keep the slats several inches above the ground to help prevent rot at the bottom that leads to repairs or complete replacement of slats.  This saves time and money.  No matter what type of slats one chooses to use, it’s imperative to keep the lined up properly.  This creates a much more pleasing look.

Fence Planning is Critical When Installing the Gate

Leave enough space between the gate and posts where the hinges will go for “swing distance” of the gate when it is opened or closed.  If the gate is not pre-made, especially with wood, put the fence together by nailing it to something inexpensive like particle board.  This will help the homeowner maintain a symmetrical continuity with the gate’s slats.  Put the gate in place and then remove the particle board from the fence.  Spacers can be used here to have the gate run flush with the fence.  Use high quality, heavy-duty hinges and latches during construction.  This will definitely save money in the long run.

Tips to Use when Installing a Chain Link Fence

Once the concrete is dry, use the corner posts to string lines to line up the middle posts. Chain link fence posts need to be about ten feet from one another to keep the chain link from sagging or buckling.  Use ready-made concrete here too at the bottom of each post.  To level the posts, if at slightly different heights after placement, pipe cutters can be used to take down the tops.  Use a top rail between the posts and pull tight as this is where the chain link fencing will be held between the posts.

Buy chain link in large rolls if the project warrants so that if there is more space between posts than expected extra material can be literally rolled out.  Here too pull the chain link tight so that it doesn’t buckle or sag.

Fence planning and fence layout can be done by the homeowner, but many leave that up to the experts.  If a fence contractor is the right decision, make sure the materials and labor come with a great warranty.  This protects the family and the investment of high quality fence planning and fence layouts.