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How to Build a Classic Picket Fence

Divide and conquer an unmanageable yard with a simple fence.

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  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Mark the Fence Location

Before getting started, plan where the fence will go and mark the location. Drive stakes and run a string line where the fence will sit. Use paint to mark the ground at each end of the line, and about every 6 feet along the line, for the fence posts.

Step 2: Dig Post Holes

Use a utility loader with an auger attachment to dig the fence post holes as marked. Use a post-hole digger to remove loose dirt from the holes. Wear safety glasses and use caution when working with a utility loader or any power tool, especially ones that can throw up dirt or debris. Wear ear protection when working with loud tools for an extended time.

Step 3: Place and Trim the Posts

For each post, place the post in the hole and make sure it faces the right way. Using a level to help keep the post plumb, backfill the hole with soil until halfway full. Use enough soil to keep the post plumb and steady; repeat for the other posts.

Measure and mark the desired post height and use a reciprocating saw to cut the first post to size. Measure and mark the other posts, double-checking with a string level before cutting them to size. Use caution whenever working with a reciprocating saw, especially when standing on a ladder to cut the fence posts. These tools can have a powerful kick; if you're not sure you can control the saw safely, get help or use another tool.

Step 4: Install Panels and Anchor the Fence

Measure and mark the position for the first fence panel and nail it to the first posts so that it sits level and flush with the post edge. Repeat until all of the fence posts are installed. Pour quick-setting concrete into the post holes to ensure a strong hold for the fence

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