Tips on Installing a Fence

White picket fence.

Installing a fence is a project that many homeowners feel comfortable taking on themselves. You may have to enlist the help of some neighbors but with a little elbow grease and by carefully following manufacturer’s instructions, most fences can be installed around an average sized yard in one weekend.

As with all home improvement projects it is a good idea to carefully plan your project, and as a courtesy, discuss with your neighbors what you intend to do. Then when you are just about to begin the project there are three very important things you must do:

  1. Location: Check on the exact location of your property lines.
  2. Permission: Obtain all necessary building and zoning permits required in your town.
  3. Utility Lines: Before digging locate all underground utility lines by calling 811 to have utility companies come out and mark the location of lines.

Steps for Installation

Depending on the type of fence you choose the exact installation process will vary and you should always follow the manufacturers instructions (usually provided with the product or available at their website). But in general the process for installing a fence is the same:

Danny Lipford plumbing fence post.

  1. Determine location of all posts, measure and mark the spots
  2. Dig holes for posts being sure to make the hole wider at the bottom
  3. Mix & Pour Cement
  4. Secure Post in Cement allowing 24 hours to dry
  5. Attach Fence panels to fence
  6. Secure Gate and finishing hardware

Tools Necessary

Again depending on the exact type of fence you intend to install the tools required will vary slightly, but in general the following list covers just about everything you might need when building a new fence:

  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Mason String
  • Sledge Hammer or mallet
  • Post Hole Diggers (or rent a gas powered auger)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Additional basic tools, such as: screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches etc.


  1. I built and installed this gate and pier last week. The gate is composed of several commercially made cast-iron sections and elements I modified and welded together.
    The pier is common concrete block, due to the frost depth I had to dig down 40″ for a concrete footing for it- piers like this require a footing below the frost line or they will move from frost in the ground.

    The griffin- as a sculptor I could make one, but this was CHEAP- $80 made of aluminum and just the right size to fit on top of the 16″ square pier.

    You may need to copy/paste the url to see it.


  2. Thanks Nicholas, it came gloss black, though it would be easy to paint any color. I wanted the gloss black to match the gate which I painted with gloss black lacquer.
    I’m tempted to build a second one on the other side- this is at the house end of the driveway, and put a wood fence between them, but for now I have a 4′ wire fence there.

    It’s a lot of work hand digging down 40″, but maybe next summer.

  3. Danny,
    Excellent Article. I have compiled some additional links for your readers who are looking to install fence – this is the most complete do it yourself link list I know of:
    I can’t make the Links active here – but they are active at:

    Red Brand Animal Fence Install Sheets
    KenCove Horse Fence Install Menu
    Child Guard Pool Fence Guide
    Prestige Pool Fence Step by Step Guide
    Universal Forest Prodcut Wood Fence Guide
    Short Run Pro Wood Fence Install
    Vinyl Fence Install
    Hoover Fence Aluminum Fence Guide
    “Fence It” Delgard Fence Install
    Hoover Fence Chain Link Install Guide
    American Fence Chain Link Install Guide
    Allan Block Fence Install
    American Fence Electric Fence Install
    Invisible Dog Fence How To
    Simtek / Mity Fence Install Guide
    Bamboo Fence Guide from Cali Bamboo – Custom Fence and Deck Plans

    (again all links are active at

    Thanks, and good luck with your fence installs!
    The Fence Wizard

  4. Your tip on calling the utility company to check on utility lines is the best idea ever. The last thing I would want is to hit a power or water line. Those are problems I’d never be able to fix. I didn’t know that I could simply dial 411. I thought it would be specific to my local company.

  5. Number three on the first things is so important. My brother tried to dig a hole for a project, and was electrocuted because he hit the electrical line! Luckily he seems just fine, but he was in the hospital for a few days.

  6. It’s great you’ve made this general guide to installing fencing yourself. I’m sure you’ve saved people lots of trouble with their own home projects. It’s been a while since I’ve added a fence line myself, I just wanted to brush up on the process. Thanks for reminding me about electrical lines. Thank you for this!

  7. I’m trying to decide how I’m going to install a fence on my new property. I’ll make sure that I have the right location of my property lines before having this done. Originally I was going to install it myself, but it seems pretty complicated, so I’ll stick to a professional. Thanks for sharing!

  8. We need a new fence around our yard, and we were thinking of trying to do it ourselves. After reading these steps I think we might be better off hiring a fencing company to do it for us! Just the first step of measuring and marking the spots seems to hard for me! If I hire someone, will they take care of the permits and utility line information or will I need to do that? Thanks for this great information!

  9. Thank you for the help. My wife and I are hoping to install a fence in our yard soon. We have the general location in mind, as you addressed. However, I am not sure how to determine where the posts themselves should go. Since I have never done this, should I hire a professional?

  10. Fences are good for garden. I prefer garden fences than concrete fences. You must always study about fences and their maintenance. The blog was good to give some insight about timber garden fence panels.

  11. Thanks for the tip to check on the exact location of our property lines to make sure we’re not building over our line. We need to get a new fence installed to keep our dog in, and that’s very important. I would never want to run into trouble by building onto our neighbor’s property.

  12. I am glad that you mentioned that you should call 811 to have the utility companies mark the location of the utility lines on your property. You wouldn’t want to hit or destroy your water, electric, or even your gas line by putting in a post hole. This makes installing the fence save when you call beforehand and see where everything is at.

  13. My father has been planning to install a wooden fence at our backyard. We’ll keep in mind to secure the post in Cement and let it try for 24 hours. These are great tips, but I guess it’s best if we’ll hire a fence contractor who can finish the job on time and properly.

  14. Thanks for all of these tips on how to install a fence. I agree that one should hire a professional because setting the post straight is important. My brother wants t get his property fenced, so I will recommend he hires a professional.

  15. Great article! I agree a fence project is one that many DIYers can handle themselves. I might add that building a fence can present some complications that can be very frustrating, and when that happens a homeowner may want to hire a fence contractor to help. Please do your research into a fence company before you hire! Make sure your fence contractor has a reputation for good work and uses high-quality materials. Thanks for sharing this info!

  16. Danny, Chelsea, you are blowing my mind! I didn’t know that we should locate all underground utility lines before we begin our fencing project! Thank goodness I read this article!
    My husband is thinking of installing a fence around my garden because he thinks it can improve the aesthetics of our home. I will let him know about those pesky utility lines before he decides on a fencing company.

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