Breaking Ground on Your DIY Fence Installation

Are you considering installing your own aluminum fence? Here are some tips on how to get started with your fencing project! Are you hoping to put up a fence and looking to save money by installing it yourself? Here are some of the steps you will need to do to make sure your fence is safe and secure, adding protection and style to your property.

Step 1: Choose the Site

Your first step is to choose the site for your fence. Is your fence going to surround your entire property, or is it going to designate off a specific area within your property? Do you want it visible from the road? Adding a fence will change the look and “feel” of your property, so it is essential that you make those fencing decisions based on accurate information before you start digging holes in the ground. One of the first pieces of information you need to know is where your underground cables and pipes are. Your utility companies will give you this information. You need to ask them where any underground wires or pipes are located and how deep they are located, so you do not accidentally damage them while digging holes for your DIY fence installation. If you are on city water and sewer, they can let you know the whereabouts of those pipes, but if you are not, you may need to check for septic lines. If you did not install the septic system and are unsure about the pipes that belong to it, check with your local government officials. Many times, these systems need approval to be installed, and this may involve a blueprint or survey showing where it is buried.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

You will need:
  • Enough string to completely surround the area you want to be fenced.
  • Clothespins, or something similar to mark the places you will put posts, as many clothespins as you intend to have fence posts.
  • A post hole digger.
  • A shovel
  • A level.
  • Gravel for the post holes (2-3 shovels full per post)
  • Stakes to brace each post
  • As many fence posts and crosspieces or panels as you need to cover your fence area. (These pieces can wait until after you complete Step 3.)
  • Fencing accessories

Step 3: Plan the Layout

After you choose the site, it is time to plan the layout. Traditional fences in small areas are typically set up in squares or rectangles. If you are trying to fence around the perimeter of your property line though, you may have a different shape to your fence. The shape is not the important factor. The number of corners is. You will need a post at every corner and every so many feet. The more posts you have, the stronger you fence will be. Wooden fences often come with cross pieces and require more posts to hold them up. Aluminum fences have panels, requiring less assembly. You need to know how long your panels are to make sure your posts are the right length apart. If panels are 5 feet wide, you don’t want to have a 12-foot gap between posts. That would either leave a 2-foot opening or force you to try to cut a panel in half. Plan your fence layout so that you have a whole number of panels between your posts. If you have long stretches with multiple posts, tie a string between one corner and the next and mark on that string where each additional post will be put. Don’t forget to factor in the width of those middle posts when you are doing your measurements!

Step 4: Prepare Holes and Posts

Fence posts have to go into the ground first. You need to be sure you bury them ⅓ of their length into the ground or else they can be knocked over by strong winds. Dig a hole with the post hole digger of that approximate depth. You can also use an auger if you decide to rent one, which can save you a considerable amount of time and effort.

Step 5: Set the Posts

Before you set the post into the post hole, put 2-3 scoops of gravel in with your shovel. Then use your level to be sure the post is level and then brace the post with stakes. When the posts are all aligned, fill the holes with dirt. After the holes are filled, carefully tamp the soil down around the base of each post, but take care not to hit the post and knock it out of alignment accidentally.

Step 6: Install Crosspieces or Panels

Whichever pieces you have running between the posts need to be installed once the posts have been aligned and set. Look to be sure you do not need hammer and nails or bolts and a driver to fix these crosspieces and panels to the posts. Once they are set, you are nearly finished.

Step 7: Install Extras

Time for the finishing touches. Does your fence have lights or accessories that need to be added? What about a gate? Do you need to add any security options to your fence to keep intruders out? These are the finishing touches to your DIY fence project.
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