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How to Install a Fence

How to Install a Fence

Sarah Macklin |

Fencing is one of the most popular ways to mark the boundary between neighbouring properties. This is because it’s so versatile, it helps to keep your home and garden secure and it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than building a wall. 

But installing a fence can seem like a daunting task. How deep should you dig the holes? How do you fix the posts so they don’t move? How do you secure the panels properly?

We’ve written this article that will show you how to put your fencing up, and outlines some regulations that you need to follow. 

How to install a fence post

First, you need to install the fence posts. These can be made of concrete, metal or wood. If you’re using wooden fence posts, make sure that you treat the wood first to protect it against moisture. You could use a preservative to keep the water out or purchase a postsaver sleeve to prevent dry rot from occurring.

Once your posts are ready for installation, you need to dig the holes for them, but first you have to determine how far apart the posts should be. Measure your fence panels to find out how long they are. For example, a standard fence panel is around 1.83 metres in length. If your fence posts are 10cm wide, the centre of each post should be 1.93 metres apart. Mark out where each fence post will be and then double check your measurements to make sure they’re correct. 

Around a third of the post should be buried for stabilisation and the hole should be three times the width of the post. For example, an eight foot fence post should be at least two feet in the ground. You’ll also need to allow for additional gravel to be added to the bottom of the hole for drainage, so dig a further six inches. To make the job easier, you could use a post hole digger to put a pit in the soil instead of digging it yourself. 

Once your hole is ready, add some gravel to the bottom and press it down using the end of the fence post. Put the post in straight and add some more gravel around the sides. This is when you may need an assistant. Ask them to hold the post straight while you pour concrete in the hole. There are many different kinds of concrete so make sure you follow the instructions to get the right consistency - you don’t want it to be too watery. 

Add the concrete to the hole until it reaches soil level. The concrete can harden quite fast so make sure you work quickly. Once the hole is filled, use a trowel to create a downwards slope from the post down to the soil. This acts as additional drainage to ensure that rainwater doesn’t sit at the base of the post. Instead, it will run away into your soil or grass. 

You should allow some time for the concrete to dry fully before putting the fence panels in. 

garden tea party with a wooden fence behind


How deep should a fence post be?

The posts should be at least two feet in the ground. However, for bigger fence posts, such as a nine foot post, you could put up to half of it in the ground. Just remember that it depends on the height of your fence panels too, and whether you’re having a gravel board. If you’ve got a one foot gravel board with a five foot fence panel and your post needs to be two feet in the ground, you’ll need an eight foot post.

How to put up fence panels

On most concrete and wooden fence posts, there’s a groove that runs down both sides. This allows the fence panel to be slid into place. You’ll need two people to do this as your posts may be quite tall and it can be awkward to get the panels in the right place. 

If you have a wooden post, you’ll need to nail your fencing into position. Where the fencing meets the post down the side, you should drill a small pilot hole diagonally into the post. Then, where you’ve drilled, use a hammer to put the nail through the fence frame and into the wooden post. 

man drilling into a wooden fence


How high can a garden fence be?

Your fence cannot be over two metres high. If you want your fence to be taller than this, you may need to get planning permission.

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