How to Install Wood Fences

by G.K. Bayne; Updated September 26, 2017

Installing a wood fence around your yard not only enhances the beauty of your landscape by the soft tone of wood, it can also enhance the property value as well. Installing a wood fence although labor intensive is a simple task by following some basic steps.

Items you will need

  • Small marker flags
  • String line
  • Tape measure
  • Shovel
  • Posthole digger
  • Rock bar
  • Ready-mix concrete
  • Hoe
  • Wheel barrow
  • 24-inch hand level
  • String line level
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • 16 p galvanized nails
Step 1

Place a small marker flag where the fence will start. Place another flag at the end of the fence section. Stretch the string line between the two points and pull it taunt so no curves are in the straight line and lay the string on the ground. Use the tape measure to lay out the positions of the posts. The fence manufacture will have this information. In this example, the posts will be 8 feet on center. Place a small marker flag every 8 feet. Leave the flags in place and roll up the string to use again.

Step 2

Dig a hole at every flag placement as deep as you can with the shovel. Be sure the holes diameter is about four to six inches wider than the post you are placing in the ground. Use the rock bar to loosen the dirt and the posthole digger to remove it from the hole. Repeat this until you reach the proper depth. Generally this can range from 24 inches to 36 inches deep. This too will depend on the fence manufacturer's specifications.

Step 3

Place all the posts in the hole and mix the concrete using the wheelbarrow and hoe. Use the 24-inch hand level to level each post on both sides of the post as you add the concrete. You will have to go back as the concrete mix sets up and double-check the post for level. Allow the concrete mix to fully cure, generally overnight.

Step 4

Stretch the string line on the fully cured fence posts. Attach the line level to the string and pull the string very taunt. Find the level position of the strings two end points. You will have to adjust the string until the bubble reaches the center point of the string level. Make a mark on each post with the pencil. This is your level line. Remove the string line and level. Nail the fence frame 2-by-4s to the appropriate centerline measurements provided by the fencing manufacturer. Use the 16 p galvanized nails. Generally this will be every 24 inches on center from the ground level to the top of the fence. These fence frame 2-by-4 nailers will be what you nail the fence picket boards into to keep them in place.

Step 5

Attach a fence picket board at each end of the fence section. Stretch the string line from each picket board on top of the board. This line created by the string will be the top-level line of each fence picket board. Nail each fence picket board into place by raising the top of the picket to the string line. Use the hand level to level each board before nailing in place. This will create a straight line of sight for the top of the fence and each separate board.


  • Be sure to use only treated fence posts that are rot resistant.