How to Erect a Field Fence

Written by ed english
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How to Erect a Field Fence
Side view of barbed wire fence (Copyright © 2009 English Explorers LLC)

Building a field fence to contain animals or crops can help keep your land organised and efficient. Properly built fences add value to the land and last for decades. Certain well made fences add to the pleasure of the landscape and the view.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Nylon string
  • Fence posts
  • Carpenter's level
  • Barbed wire or other fence material
  • Post hole digging equipment
  • Concrete mixture
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Determine the location of the fence. Mark each location where the fence changes directions. We will refer to these as corner posts. One fence post should be at each of these locations. If the fence material is barbed wire, one or two fence braces will also need to be located at the corners. If the fence material is wood or some other material that is stiff enough to keep the post from leaning, then the braces do not need to be placed.

  2. 2

    Dig the holes for the post at two of the corner locations. The holes need to be dug at least two feet deep and six to nine inches larger than the diameter of the fence post to allow room around the post for the concrete. Use hand-operated post hole diggers if you want the exercise and have only a few holes to dig. Use mechanical diggers if you have a long fence to erect. Mechanical diggers are basically a gas engine with a large auger attached underneath. You stand them upright and they dig a hole similar to the way a drill bit drills holes in wood. They are available at equipment rental locations. If the soil has a lot of rocks, they can be more trouble than they are worth. Tractors can also be used with post hole diggers attached. If you have one available, it will make quick work out of the digging.

    How to Erect a Field Fence
    Close-up view of posthole composition
  3. 3

    Place one post in each hole and use the carpenter's level to hold it plumb. Place the concrete in the hole around the post making sure the post stays plumb until the concrete has cured. Put enough concrete in the hole to form a mound at the top. This will prevent water from settling around the bottom of the post and prolong the life of the wood.

  4. 4

    Stretch a nylon string from one corner post to the other corner post. Pull the string very tight to make sure it is straight. If it sags or the wind can blow it around it will be useless. The string will be used to dig the holes for the rest of the post located between the two corner posts. Make sure the corner posts will not move. If necessary to hold them plumb place braces to keep them from leaning.

  5. 5

    Measure the distance from the corner post that you will space your post. Standard spacing for barbed wire fences is eight to 12 feet apart. Wood fence posts are usually six to eight feet apart. Dig holes and place each post where you want them in between the corners. Wait for the concrete to harden before applying the fence material to the post.

  6. 6

    Attach the barbed wire or other fence material to the post. If barbed wire is used, it needs to be very tightly stretched to avoid sagging later. If wood boards are used, they should be treated on all sides with rot-resistant material to slow down the decaying process. Use only biodegradable products for this procedure. Several products are available for use.

  7. 7

    Don't forget the gates. The gates can be handmade or ordered from a manufacturer. Many sizes and types are available. The type you choose will depend on whether it mainly controls animal or human passage.

Tips and warnings

  • Soil composition will determine how deep to sink the post into the earth.
  • Sandy soil may require more concrete while soil made of clay may not require any concrete.
  • Stretching barbed wire can be very dangerous. If it is let loose while under tension, it can cause serious injury.
  • Always take safety precautions and wear proper safety equipment while operating machinery or using hand tools.

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