Hillside Fencing and Stepped Rails

 
 
If you are installing a fence on a hill, you may need to take the slope into account. You have two choices: you can follow the contour or you can build a stepped fence. This page covers contoured fencing; stepped fences are discussed on the next page.
 

WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS JOB:

TOOLS:

MATERIALS:


Contoured Fencing

To lay out a contoured fence, first drive 2×2 stakes at the top and the bottom of the slope. Run a level mason’s line between the stakes, measure along it and mark locations for line posts with tape. Transfer the taped marks to the ground with a plumb bob and mark each spot with powdered chalk.


Dig holes for the posts and install them before trimming them to the uniform height.


Dig holes and install the posts The rails on a contour fence follow the slope of the ground. Lay out the posts as described below. Once they are in place, measure up from the ground to lay out the bottom rails. Measure up from the bottom rails to lay out the top rails. Cut the rails so the ends fall at the middle of the posts and fasten them with #8 2 ½-inch deck screws.

Step 1: Run a Mason's Line between the End Stakes

Run a manson's line between the end stakes Drive a stake at the top and bottom of the slope. Tie a line to each stake and level it with a line level. Measure along the line to lay out the locations of the posts and mark the locations with tape.
  

Step 2: Transfer the Marks to the Ground

Transfer the marks to the ground Drop a plumb bob from the tape to transfer the marks to the ground. Mark the spot with powdered chalk and then with stakes. Dig holes and install the stakes so that each is a little more than finished height above the ground.

Hillside Fencing

Some fences, such as alternate-board fences, work best when they step down a hillside. To lay out a stepped hillside fence, drive a 2×2 stake into the ground at the top and bottom of the slope. Run a level mason’s line from the base of the top stake to the bottom stake. The distance between the ground and the line at the bottom post is the drop in elevation between stakes. Divide the drop by the number of fencing sections (not posts) to find the drop per section. In the example below, the overall drop is 24 inches over three sections of fence. Divide 24 inches by the three sections to come up with the drop per section: 8 inches.


When installing the posts, set each one slightly higher than the desired height. Measure to find the top of the upper post and transfer the drop per section to the other posts with the help of a line level. Once the posts are laid out, trim the posts to height.


As its name implies, stepped hillside fencing goes down the hill in a series of steps. First lay out the top of the upper post. Measure down by the amount of drop and transfer this height to the next post with the help of a line level. Continue measuring and transferring until you reach the bottom of the hill. Hanging rails for stepped hillside fencing

Step 1: Lay Out the Posts

Lay out the posts Drive a stake at the top and bottom of the fence run. String a mason’s line from the base of the top stake to the bottom stake and then level the line with a line level. Measure the distance between the line and the ground at the bottom stake to find out how much the fence drops along the run. Measure along the line and mark the location of the posts with masking tape. Count the sections of fence you will need and then divide the overall drop of the fence by the number of sections to find the drop per section.
 

Step 2: Lay Out the Tops of the Posts

Lay out the tops of the posts

Dig holes and install the posts so each one is slightly taller than the finished height of the fence. Measure to find where the top of the upper post will be and draw a line to mark where you will cut it. Measure down by the drop per section, which you figured out in Step 1and tie a line at that point. Tie the other end to the next post and level the line. The point at which it crosses the second post will be the top of that post.

 

Mark the top, move the line down by the drop per section, then stretch it to the third post and level it. Mark as before. Continue down the hill, marking the top, measuring down and stretching a level line until you reach the bottom of the hill. Cut off the tops of the posts at the layout lines.