A privacy fence is a fence with a purpose. It is not built for beauty, but rather to keep the neighbours from seeing, and to define the property line. Typically six feet tall, the biggest restriction on height is building and neighbourhood codes. These can be built with vinyl or wood with a variety of styles. Decorative touches can even be added to the top to allow privacy to be maintained while not giving up some of the aesthetics of a beautiful fence. Installing one on a steep hill isn't much different from installing one on level ground.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Fence boards or premade fence sections
- Hammer or screwdriver
- Nails or screws
- Fence posts
- Posthole digger
- Concrete mix
- Wood preserver
Saturate the bottom third of your posts with wood preserver, if the boards are untreated, and let sit overnight. Cedar and redwood are two types of wood that will resist rot even untreated.
Figure out where the fence should be located. With a steep hill, you may want to do a trial fence to determine where best to place the fence for optimum privacy. This can be done with cardboard, bed sheets or other material that is laying around. Grab someone to help and hold it up where the fence would go and decide if what you can see is acceptable. When you've determined optimum placement, mark off the area with stakes starting at the corners and then spacing them such that each fence section will fit between them (typically six to eight feet).
Dig the fence post holes with the posthole digger deep enough that one-third of the post will be underground. Put two to three shovels of gravel at the bottom of the hole. Insert the post and then pack around it with concrete or dirt. Use a level to ensure the post is straight and then brace the post to keep it in place. Pile a small mound of dirt around the base of the post to prevent puddling. Let the posts set for four or five days.
Attach each premade fence section using nails or screws (and possibly brackets) depending on how the section was made. Step each section up the hill. To determine how much you'll be stepping for each section, measure the height difference in inches between the top of the hill and the bottom. Take that difference and divide it by the number of sections (area between two fence posts). The answer will tell you how many inches each section needs to step down. For steep hills, the sections will likely need to be cut in the middle to ensure the gaps between the boards and the hills on the downhill side of the section aren't too large. For a preview of the gaps, tie a string between your fence posts and make sure it's level. If the gap on the downhill side is too large, then add another fence post in the middle. Use a power saw to cut the section to fit between the posts.
If using individual picket fence boards, attach the top and bottom rails of the fence with nails or screws such that they follow the grade of the hill and the space between them is the same at each end. Tying a string between the fence posts two inches above the ground on each fence post will provide a nice guideline to follow for attaching the bottom rail. The top rail will be about six inches below the top of the fence boards (for a six-foot fence these will be at five feet six inches). Nail or screw each fence board to your rails so they all have the same amount of board showing over the top rail and under the bottom rail.
Add chicken wire or rocks to fill in any larger gaps between the bottom of the fence and the ground if desired. Attach any other decorative items such as lattice, fence post caps, or top rails if desired.
Tips and warnings
- If the tops of the posts are slanted, rounded or capped, then water won't collect and they will last longer.
- The posts will be more secure if you make the post holes wider at the bottom than at the top.
- The bottom rail should be at least 2 inches off the ground to help prevent moisture issues and to make trimming the grass easier.
- Make sure you know where your property line is before you start installing a new fence.
- Call your local government to make sure there aren't any required permits and to learn about any local fence codes.
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