Building a Fence on a Hill

Weekend

Install a fence that follows natural slope of your yard, or build a stepped fence

Building a Fence on a Hill

Installing a fence on a hill seems like a daunting project, but with the proper planning, you can tackle it just as easily as a fence on level land. You have two building choices: You can follow the natural contour of the land or you can build a stepped fence. This guide will walk you through the process of building both types of fences.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT

Contoured Fencing

Building Fence Hill - Contoured Fencing

The rails on a contour fence follow the slope of the ground.

1
Run a Mason’s Line between Stakes
Building Fence Hill - Run Mason’s Line between Stakes

• Drive 2 × 2-foot stakes at the top and the bottom of the slope.
• Run a level mason’s line between the stakes, measuring and evenly marking locations for posts along the line with tape.

2
Mark the ground and install posts
Building Fence Hill - Mark ground and install posts

• Drop a plumb bob from the tape marks on the line to transfer the marks to the ground.
• Mark the spot with powdered chalk.
• Dig holes at the marked spots and install the posts.
• Once posts 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.


Hillside Fencing

Building Fence Hill -
Hillside Fencing

As its name implies, stepped hillside fencing goes down the hill in a series of steps.

1
Measure for the posts
Building Fence Hill - Measure for the posts

• Drive a stake at the top and bottom of the slope where you’d like the fence to end.
• String a mason’s line from the base of the top stake to the bottom stake and then level 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 on the line 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.

2
Install and mark levels
Building Fence Hill - Install and mark levels

• Dig holes and install the posts where you marked earlier 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 1 and 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.