Making a DIY garden fence will work out much cheaper than having a professional install one for you. However, the project isn’t always as easy as it might seem, which is why it’s essential to know and understand all the steps involved in making a garden fence beforehand.
Here’s how to make a garden fence:
- Determine the purpose of the garden fence.
- Choose the garden fence style you want.
- Get the equipment you need.
- Take measurements.
- Place the posts.
- Dig a narrow ditch.
- Place the metal fencing onto the posts.
- Cover the narrow trench with soil.
- Add covers to each post.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss these steps in more detail. Afterward, I’ll take you through the best fence type to optimize your privacy, the best fence type for preventing pests, and the differences between wooden and metal posts.
1. Determine the Purpose of the Garden Fence
Before making any purchases or plans, you must consider the garden fence’s purpose. You might want to block your plants or growing vegetables from pests and other animals. Or, maybe you want to create a fence for more privacy.
It’s also possible that you simply want to add something aesthetically pleasing to your garden. Determining the purpose of the garden fence will help you decide which materials to buy, and it will also give you an idea of how much money you’ll want to spend.
Below, I’ll discuss some different types of garden fences and the materials they most likely require:
Fence To Block Pests
When you want to build a fence to block pests and other animals, you need to dig deep enough into the soil so they can’t get under the fence. It would also help if you made the fence high enough so that nothing could jump over.
There are many options you can go for. The easiest and cheapest one would be plain wooden posts and metal fence wiring. Since this fence type is excellent for a DIY project (because of how simple it is to construct compared to some other fence types), it’s the one I’ve chosen to take you through for the sake of this article.
A privacy fence is excellent if you’re looking to stay away from curious eyes while in the comfort of your garden. Generally, a privacy fence would need to be taller than most fences, and it also can’t have any gaps (which rules out metal wiring).
Most privacy fences are made of wooden panels, so you can’t see through them. The best wood types are ones that are natural but slow to deteriorate, such as:
You want the wood to be natural because treated wood has chemicals that can seep into the soil. So if you have plants or trees around, the substances might negatively affect them.
However, regular untreated wood (one that is fast to deteriorate) will rot very quickly. That’s why cedar and other types of wood are so popular for outdoor projects, but they also come at a hefty price tag.
Fence for Aesthetics
There are many excellent ways to add character and design to a garden, and a garden fence is one of them. Choose whichever materials you think will look best if you want to install a garden fence purely for aesthetic purposes.
Anything from wood to concrete panels is a viable option, and you can also focus on the paint color. You can choose panels that are already the color you want, or you can paint the panels yourself using a color of your choosing.
You may even want to paint each panel a different color if you’re feeling adventurous. Whatever your vision is, you can be creative when building a fence for aesthetic purposes.
2. Choose the Garden Fence Style You Want
After you’ve determined the purpose of your garden fence, you’ll need to choose the specific style you want. After reading through the first step, you should know more about the style you want.
Although the installation process of each fence type may be slightly different, most of the instructional steps you’ll read further in this guide will be suitable for all the fences mentioned in this section!
Check them out below to learn more.
Lattice fences are usually made of wood strips that cross over each other to create small squares; this would be a popular style choice for people who want a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing fence. You can buy lattice panels and use posts to attach everything together.
Picket fencing is one of the most popular varieties, and for a good reason! Here are the main benefits:
- It’s relatively easy to install.
- It looks aesthetically pleasing.
- It blocks pests and unwanted animals.
- It can last decades if you use the suitable materials and install it correctly.
However, if privacy concerns you, I wouldn’t recommend going with picket fencing. Generally, it’s short and contains gaps, so neighbors will easily see through and over it.
This type of fencing is usually made of wood.
Metal Grate Fencing
Metal grate fencing is one of the easiest ones you can do yourself. It consists of wooden posts and metal wiring, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s the one I’ve chosen for the sake of this article.
Although this fence type isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, it’s excellent at preventing pests and animals from getting into your plants or garden (once you install it correctly). So if you’re looking for something affordable, practical, and easy to install, metal grate fencing is an excellent option.
A trellis looks similar to a lattice, but it’s much thinner and less sturdy. The primary purpose of a trellis is to support upward-growing plants, but people also like to use it as a fence. Because of its design, a trellis is a beautiful and elegant addition to a garden.
To make a trellis fence, you can buy trellis panels and use posts and connect them. You’d do the same for all fence types.
Wood panels are suitable for privacy and blocking animals and pests. You can buy many types of wood panels, so choose the one you like the most. Like the other fences, you can connect each wood panel with a post to keep it in place. Cedar is a popular wood for this purpose because it isn’t chemically treated and lasts a long time.
It would be best to avoid woods like ash because it deteriorates quickly and is likely to rot in the soil. This can cause your wooden fence to become wobbly or collapse eventually.
3. Get the Equipment You Need
The next step is to gather all the equipment you need. For the sake of this article, I’ll be focusing on making a metal wire fence because it’s relatively easy and multi-functional. So remember that some of the equipment you’ll need may vary if you’re making a different type of fence. However, some of it will be the same (particularly the tools).
Firstly, here are all the tools you’ll need to make a garden fence:
- Post-hole digger. This will help you dig small holes where the posts will go. If the soil is light and easy to break through, you may be able to use a hand tool or shovel.
- Galvanized fencing staples. These staples keep the wire fencing attached to the wooden posts.
- Hammer. You’ll need a hammer to hammer the fencing staples into the wooden posts.
- Measuring tape. A measuring tape is essential if you want your fence to be the right height and length. It’s also important to measure the depth of the post holes and trenches.
- Level. A level device helps you ensure your fence and posts are in the correct position and not leaning over.
- Post markers. Post markers are essential to have before you dig the post holes. You can use many things as markers, including sticks and rocks.
- Trenching shovel. A trenching shovel will help you dig the trenches for the wire fencing. The head of a trenching shovel is long and narrow, so it will be easier to use than a regular shovel.
Here are the primary materials you’ll need to make a garden fence:
- Wooden posts. 10-foot (3 meters) posts should be OK, but you can get shorter ones. The number of posts you’ll need depends on how big the fence will be.
- Wire fencing. Wire fencing doesn’t need to be as tall as the posts. Anything 4 feet (1.2 meters) or above is OK. The amount you’ll need will depend on how big the fence will be.
- Concrete mix. You’ll need to apply the concrete mix to the base of the posts. Once it dries, it will keep the posts upright and secure. Beware that most types of concrete will need to dry overnight or at least for a few hours.
- Steel posts (optional). If you don’t want to use wooden posts for your garden fence, you can go with steel ones. However, most steel posts are more expensive, so keep that in mind if you’re on a budget.
Once you have the above tools and materials, you should be ready to take measurements.
4. Take Measurements
You’ll need to take accurate measurements before making a garden fence. These measurements include:
- Length of each side of the planned fence
- Space between each post (leaving around 6 feet (1.8 meters) between each post should be OK)
- Depth of the post holes
- Depth of the trellis
- Height of the posts
Measuring the Length of the Planned Fence
You’ll want to measure the length of the planned fence before going any further. When you get to each corner, you can mark the spot. Once you’ve got the four corner markings, it’ll be easy to measure the distance between the other wooden posts.
Since the four corner markings will give you an easy guide to work with, you should always take those measurements and markings first.
Measuring the Distance Between Posts
If you don’t take proper measurements between the posts when planning the fence, it will likely look uneven when finished. By taking accurate measurements, you’re ensuring there’ll be the same distance between each post and that the holes will be deep enough to support them.
If there’s a different amount of distance between each post, it will look odd and unappealing to the eye. Of course, it won’t necessarily affect the fence’s functionality, but you should try to make it look as even as possible.
However, placing the posts too far apart will affect the fence’s functionality. Doing this will make the fence more prone to collapsing or slanting over time, and taking proper measurements will prevent this from happening.
As you’re measuring the distance between the posts, you should use markers to help you out. This way, you won’t forget where to dig the post holes. You can use sticks or rocks as markers, but you can also use a temporary colored spray or stake. Make sure it remains in place and won’t move (no matter what you use).
For example, if you use a stick as a marker, ensure you hammer it into the soil far enough so it won’t blow away in the wind. If it does, you’ll have to start over again.
5. Place the Posts
After taking the measurements between each planned post, you can start digging the post holes. Afterward, you’ll be placing the posts inside these holes. You can start with the four corner posts to make your job as easy as possible.
Dig Holes at the Four Corners
Before beginning, you can remove the marker of the post hole you’re digging. Then, use a post-hole digger to make the hole. You could try to dig using a small hand tool or shovel, but this will be challenging if the soil is tough.
While digging the post holes, you should pay attention to how deep you’re going. The taller the fence, the deeper you’ll need to dig. Since this fence (the one we’re building through this guide) won’t be tall, you should make the holes around 2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters) deep. Note that this will work best if you use posts around 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters) high.
The diameter of each hole should be three times the post’s width. It’s important to leave enough space in the hole so that you can pour in the concrete. But you also want to avoid making the diameter of the hole too broad, as this could make the post more unstable.
If you’ve dug too much, you can place some of the soil back into the hole. Once it’s at the right height and diameter, you can move to the next corner post hole. Once finished, you can proceed to the next step.
Place the Posts Into the Four Corners
After digging the holes in the corners of the planned fence, you’ll want to place the first four posts into these holes. You want to ensure you place each post fully upright, avoiding slanting. To make the process easier, you should work on each corner individually rather than going between each one quickly, trying to finish them in a rush.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on placing how to place the posts:
- Choose a corner hole. Then, place one of the posts into the hole, ensuring it’s steady. You may want to use wooden reinforcements to keep the posts in place while waiting for all the concrete to dry and set.
- Add temporary reinforcement. You can also use your level device to ensure the post is entirely straight. Once you’ve confirmed that it is, you can prepare your first concrete batch. However, it’s essential to ensure the post is in the correct position before applying the concrete—once you pour the concrete, it’s difficult to fix the position of the post.
- Pour concrete into the hole and around the post until it’s adequately covering everything. You can use a mix that goes straight into the soil or one that you pre-mix with water. Repeat this process with the other three corner holes. Most types of concrete will need around 24 hours to dry, so you may need to wait a while before you go any further.
Prepare the Rest of the Posts
Once you’ve prepared the four corners, you can prepare the rest of the posts. The process will be the same as when preparing the corner holes. Ensure that you’ve got the correct depth and diameter, and then place each post into the holes. Repeat the concrete pouring process, but ensure each post is level beforehand.
You’ll also need to ensure each post is the same height—putting one post into the soil deeper than another will create a height imbalance. This could affect how the fencing goes on, and it will also make the fence look uneven.
Once you’re finished preparing all the posts, you’ll want to take a break to let the concrete dry (unless you’ve used fast-drying concrete). Check the packaging if you’re unsure of how long to wait for the concrete to dry.
6. Dig a Narrow Ditch
The next step is to dig a narrow ditch for the metal fencing. You’ll need to dig this narrow ditch between each post and ensure it’s deep enough. This step is necessary only if you want to block animals and pests from getting into your crops or plants.
Digging a narrow ditch and placing the fence wiring into it will make it more difficult for animals and pests to get under, so it’s an excellent step to follow if you’re concerned about this issue.
When digging the trench, you can use a trenching shovel. The long, narrow head will make it easy to use, so it’s your best option. As you dig the narrow ditch on each side of the planned fence, ensure it matches up. A ditch that isn’t deep enough will make it easier for unwanted pests and animals to get through, so keep that in mind.
7. Place the Metal Fencing Onto the Posts
Once the concrete is dry and you’ve dug the trenches, you can start putting the fencing together. Don’t forget to remove any supports if you installed them previously. This step will really bring the fence together, so you must get it right.
You’ll need to use the galvanized fencing staples to attach the wire fencing to the posts. Measure out the metal wire fencing and align it with one of the corner posts. This step will go by much quicker if you have at least one other person to help you. While hammering the staples into the wooden posts, the other person can hold the rest of the wire fencing in place.
Doing this will also ensure the wiring is straighter. You want to pull it taut so that there’s no gaping. You’ll need to continue doing this when attaching the wiring to each post.
While attaching the wire fencing to each post, you can use one long strip of fencing (bringing it around all four corner posts and the other posts). Alternatively, you can use small strips of wire fencing between each post. If you’re doing the job yourself and don’t have any helpers, it would be much easier to work with more petite strips of wire fencing.
If using one long strip of wire fencing, you can hammer in the fencing staples as you reach each post.
While doing this, ensure the fencing is deep enough in the trench. If using small strips of wire fencing between each post, make sure you measure each piece before hammering it in. You certainly don’t want some parts of the wire fencing to be taller than others!
If your fence is in an enclosed square, you’ll want to avoid placing wiring between at least two posts. This will allow you to walk in and out. However, you could add a DIY gate if you want. If it’s not an enclosed square, you don’t need to worry about this issue too much.
Making a Gate
You’ll need some extra wood slabs if you decide to make a gate. You can place the gate in between two posts once you make it. You’ll also need:
- Extra wire fencing
- Gate hinges
- Gate lock
Be sure to make all the screws tight enough on the gate—loose screws can cause loud noises and squeaking. To learn more about preventing gate noise, check out my other article: How to Stop a Garden Gate from Rattling in the Wind.
First, choose the two posts you want to make into a gate. You’ll need at least six extra slabs of wood for the project, but the exact number will depend on the type of gate you wish to make.
It’s challenging to fully understand how to make a fence gate by reading an article. So, it’s best to watch a few videos to see the process happening in action. An example would be this Youtube video by the user Daddykirbs Farm (skip to the 3:42 timestamp for the gate-making tutorial):
The video above fits right within the context of this article because it’s a wire fence and gate with wooden posts, which is precisely what this guide is based on. You can follow the video above exactly or take some creative risks—it’s entirely up to you!
8. Cover the Narrow Trench With Soil
Once you’ve attached the fencing to the posts, it will look like an actual fence! To make it look even better, you can cover the narrow ditches with soil. Make sure to cover the holes entirely to align them with the rest of the ground—this will help make the bottom of the fence blend in more with the garden.
Luckily, you don’t need to use any concrete in the trenches (you only need that for the post holes). So, this step is relatively simple. Once you’ve adequately filled all the narrow ditches with soil, you can move on to the next step.
9. Add Covers to Each Post
If you’ve reached this point, you’re almost finished making your garden fence. Technically, this step isn’t necessary, but I would highly recommend it. Covering each post will give your fence a finished look and ensure that any sharp screws or other unattractive components are covered.
Covering is commonly referred to as capping, and you can use slabs of wood to do it. It’s best to use the same wood you used for the posts so that everything blends in nicely. Once that’s done, your entire garden fence is finished!
It should look even and symmetrical if you made the proper measurements. Now that it’s done, you can enjoy your new fence without worrying so much about bothersome pests and animals.
Maintain Your Garden Fence After Making It
Once you finish making your garden fence, you may think all your work is done. However, this isn’t the case. Although the most challenging work is done, you still need to properly maintain your garden fence after making it—this is particularly true if you live somewhere with a harsher climate.
Weather elements like rain and wind can affect the metal wiring of the fence. If there’s a lot of rain, parts of the fence will be susceptible to rusting. To avoid this, you should clean the metal wire fence regularly. You should also ensure it constantly remains tight and taut. If it becomes loose, you’ll need to tighten it using some staples and a hammer.
You can also apply oil to the metal parts every now and then to prevent significant rusting and other types of damage.
Another element to consider is the wood. If you use high-quality wood that deteriorates slowly (like cedar), you likely won’t have to do much maintenance. However, even the best wood can rot or get damaged over time. To give the wood a fresh look, you can oil it every now and then, just like the metal wiring.
You should also watch out for mold growth. Mold can’t grow on the metal wire, but it can certainly grow on wood. Dampness is one of the leading causes of mold and mildew growth on wood surfaces, so try to keep the wood coverings and posts as clean and dry as possible to prevent decay (oil also helps prevent mold).
If you take good care of your DIY fence, it should last many years (and even decades).
Cheapest DIY Garden Fence
One of the cheapest DIY garden fences is a simple wire mesh fence connected to wooden posts (like the one in this guide). The wood will likely be the most expensive material because you need to buy good-quality wood to last a long time. Luckily, the metal mesh wiring is affordable and works well at keeping unwanted animals out.
It’s certainly affordable, but it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing.
Another cheap DIY garden fence is a chain link one. You can make this with metal posts rather than wooden ones. Although this one is affordable to make, many people avoid it because of its appearance. If you want something aesthetically pleasing, you should avoid this fence type.
Best Garden Fences for Privacy
The best garden fences for privacy are ones that are tall and don’t have any holes or gaps. Therefore, a wire or chain link fence wouldn’t be a good option as a privacy fence, which are entirely solid and usually more expensive than your standard gardening fences.
While they’re often made of wood, they can be made of other materials like steel and brick too (although many would consider brick fences walls, especially if they’re high).
Steel fence panels are popular because they’re easy to maintain while providing optimal privacy. Many steel panels are made of stainless steel, so they will be easy to maintain. Steel panels are also more heavy-duty than wood panels, so you can expect them to last a long time.
However, it’s more challenging to install steel panels in a DIY manner because they’re heavy and more difficult to maneuver. Therefore, you may need help from a professional (unless you know what you’re doing).
These are perfect for privacy because they’re fully solid and can be as tall as you need.
Hedges, Trees, and Premade Privacy Screens
You can also incorporate plants and trees into your privacy fencing. Some people like to use tall trees or hedges as privacy screens (instead of a fence), which can work out nicely because the approach adds beautiful color to the garden.
If you don’t know whether or not you want to make your own garden fence for privacy, you may want to consider something like pre-grown garden trellises.
I briefly mentioned using wood panels for a privacy fence at the start of this article, and it’s because they’re one of the best types you can choose!
Wood panels are lighter than steel, so they’re easier for you to install in a DIY manner. Solid wood panels are excellent at blocking sunlight and the neighbors’ view of your garden. And if you choose a good quality wood, it’s bound to last for years without deteriorating.
You can also make wood panel fences look beautiful by choosing a color you like or painting them after the installation.
Best Garden Fences for Blocking Pests and Animals
The best garden fences for blocking pests and animals are placed in a trench (i.e., a fence that goes underground)—this makes it impossible for most pests to get under, so it’s highly functional.
The fencing also needs to be solid or tightly woven. You want to avoid significant gaps in the fencing because some animals and pests can get through these. Another essential aspect to consider is height. A short fence will give some animals the chance to jump over easily, defeating the entire purpose.
Consider a Solid Fence
Although it’s not entirely necessary for blocking out all animals and pests, a solid wood or steel fence is another excellent choice. Since these are completely solid with no holes or gaps, there’s no way for any unwanted creatures to get past them.
Plus, many animals are drawn to the visuals of your garden. If they see colorful flowers or vegetables growing, they’ll want to go over and (possibly) eat them. You can avoid this situation altogether by installing a solid wood or steel fence.
Differences Between Wood and Metal Fence Posts
When making a garden fence, you need to consider the posts. The two primary post materials are:
Garden fence posts are vital for the overall structure of your fence, so you want to make sure you choose one that will last a long time. Below, I’ll discuss the main differences between metal and wood posts to determine which is best for your garden fence.
An important aspect to consider is cost. Generally, wood garden fence posts are cheaper than metal ones, so they’re better if you’re on a budget. However, metal ones are usually better quality, so it is often worth the extra money (particularly if you want the posts to last for many years).
Metal fence posts are more durable than wooden ones because they aren’t as susceptible to things like:
- Mold and mildew
Therefore, they tend to last many times longer than their wood counterparts. However, metal fence posts can incur damage if you don’t maintain them well. For example, extreme heat can change the mechanical properties of metal. And as I mentioned earlier, rusting is another issue that can occur.
Metal and wood have completely different appearances, so the material you choose will significantly affect the overall look of your garden fence.
Wood creates a classic garden look and often appears more traditional than metal, so you should go for wood if that’s the style you’re looking for.
On the other hand, metal gives off a more modern appearance and looks more sleek and clean. Some might say that wood feels more homely and warm than metal, but it’s up to you to decide which material you want.
However, when it comes to customization, wood and metal are similar. You can paint metal and wood easily as long as you do it correctly and use the appropriate paint. Therefore, if you get tired of the color after a while, you can change it without replacing the actual posts.
To paint wood, you need to sand it down and then apply wood paint. Afterward, a wood sealer will lock in the color and protect the surface.
To paint metal, you must prepare it and then paint it with appropriate metal-safe paint.
It can be more challenging to install metal garden fence posts because they’re heavier than wooden ones. If you’re only using small posts, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. However, if you’re making a large fence, it could be challenging to install metal posts by yourself.
On the other hand, wooden posts are light and easy to move around. So, when placing them in the soil, you won’t need much body strength to get them in place; this makes it easier to get the installation right and ensure the post is entirely vertical rather than slightly slanted.
Which Is Better: Wood or Metal Fence Post?
A wood fence post is better if you’re on a budget. It’s also good if you want a more classic, homely look in your garden. A metal fence post is better if you’re not on a tight budget and want something highly durable and long-lasting. A metal post also gives off a more modern look.
Although making a garden fence takes some time and effort, it’s an excellent way to save money on labor costs, and it’s certainly worth it when the job is done. The process shouldn’t be too complicated if you have the proper equipment and materials.
Remember to take all the required measurements before starting your fence to ensure the finished look is balanced and aesthetically pleasing. Maintaining your garden fence after completing it is vital to avoid rust and deterioration. Staying on top of maintenance will ensure the fence lasts a long time.