Add a freestanding fence to your garden landscape as an attractive and inexpensive way to provide architectural interest, a support structure for plants, or to define the boundary of an outdoor "room." Even if you don't consider yourself handy, you can build and install a single 8-foot fence panel in a couple of hours, with common tools and the help of some prefabricated fencing materials from your local home improvement store.
Select the location for your fence. Pound one of the wooden stakes into the ground to mark the location of the first concrete pier block. Measure 8 feet away and mark that spot by driving the second wooden stake into the ground. Tie one end of the string to the first stake, pull the string taut, and tie it to the second stake. This represents the fence panel and helps you to locate the panel exactly where you want it in the landscape.
Dig a square hole to receive a concrete pier block where each of the wooden stakes is located. The holes need to be 13-by-13 inches square and 12 inches deep. Make sure the soil in the bottom of the hole is firm and reasonably level.
Insert a pier block into each of the holes. Measure from the centre of the metal bracket on the first block to the centre of the metal bracket on the second block. Adjust the location of the pier blocks until the measurement on centre between the brackets is 8 feet.
Cut the 4-by-4-inch lumber in half to make two 5-foot fence posts. Lay these posts on a firm, flat surface, such as a patio or driveway. Place them 8 feet apart and parallel to one another. From the top edge of each post, measure down 6 inches and make a mark.
Place the prefabricated fence panel on top of the two fence posts with the finished side of the panel facing up. Align the top edge of the upper fence stringer with the mark you made on each post. At the same time, align the outer edges of the upper and lower stringers with the outside edges of the fence posts. (The stringers are the horizontal boards to which the pickets are attached.)
Drill two holes 2 inches apart near the centre of both the upper and lower stringers where they overlap the left fence post. Install a galvanised Phillips head screw in each of these four holes. Repeat this process for the right side of the fence.
Install this completed fence panel by inserting the bottom of each fence post into the metal brackets on the concrete pier blocks. Adjust the position of the pier blocks, if necessary, to centre the post in the metal bracket.
Drive a galvanised screw into each of the pre-drilled holes on the metal bracket to secure the fence post to the concrete pier block.
Apply paint or wood stain to the fence panel and fence posts, if desired.
Back fill the holes around the concrete pier blocks with soil.
Prefabricated fence panels are available in a variety of materials and styles. This freestanding fence is portable and can be easily moved to accommodate changes in your garden design.
Even pressure treated lumber will deteriorate over time if it is buried in soil. To prevent rot, keep fence posts and brackets 1 to 2 inches above soil level. Wear safety glasses and gloves when working with wood.