When considering installing a fence around your yard you should not take a year to complete the whole project. You should not cut corners. You should not start one part of the fence before realizing that you have to remove trees in order for you to complete the remainder of the fence…. Yea…. We did all these things. But it worked out! I still wouldn’t recommend doing it the way we did but I will tell you that we didn’t spend a ton of money, we did all the work ourselves and now we are extra proud of our fence. We have a good reason to be! Just wait until you see the before photos.
Our house is a lot closer to commercial real estate than I would like but as soon as the mix-match fence was out and our new privacy fence was installed our yard suddenly felt like our own little jungle in the middle of the city. We are having so much fun creating an outdoor living space in our jungle. For more posts about our yard check out our garden box post and our patio install.
When we first moved in only half of our fence was a privacy fence, the other half was chain link. So when looking at the front of the house you could see a chain link on the left and privacy on the right… and the existing privacy fence was a bit worn to put it nicely. It was just a hodgepodge of a mess. We knew we wanted a full privacy fence but after we moved in we had the cost of moving and closing on our house so we had limited funds at the time. Since the existing privacy fence still offered privacy and was still mostly sturdy we decided to tackle the chain link fence first.
First things first, we needed to get rid of all the chain link. We posted on “Nextdoor” (a neighborhood app; super helpful) and craigslist, “if you remove it you can keep all the chainlink and metal for free”. Would you believe that we actually got a bite? It’s amazing the responses when you include the word “FREE”. So a crew of 4-5 men came by and removed all the chain link. They even removed the cemented metal posts all down the left side of the yard. Score!
We had a lot of our materials delivered from Home Depot. The gentlemen kindly placed our materials conveniently in our driveway for us. We placed our order online, and I highly recommend this method if you ever consider building your own fence. Although, when we placed our order we drastically underestimated how much concrete we were going to use. It ended up being close to a bag and a half per hole. Sometimes it took 2 bags depending on the size of the hole and the location of the post.
What we used:
- Dog ear treated fence planks
- Treated 4x4s
- Treated 2x4s
- Wood screws
- Post hole digger- rented from home depot
- Quikrete – fast setting concrete mix
- Pickaxe for tough roots when digging holes
- Water source for mixing concrete
INSTALL: PART 1
Once the old fence was gone it was time to start the new fence. We actually did our fence in 3 stages which is why it took us nearly a year to complete only 175 feet of fencing. The first leg of the project was 86 ft of fence (including a double gate at the front of the house) and it replaced all the old chain link. Our good friend Justin agreed to help us on this job which was a good thing because he was all the brain power and Cole and I were just the muscle. 🙂
We first measured out where we would need our posts, 6-8 feet apart. Once we planned out all of our posts we used a gas powered post hole digger (strongly recommend the two person hole digger not the single person) that we rented from Home Depot to dig all of our post holes. We then placed a treated 4×4 post in each hole.
We started with the corner posts. We got the front corner post level on all sides then we nailed steaks to the post to help stabilize. We did the same for the back corner post. We then ran a plum line (pink twine the in photo above) from one corner post to the other. This line would help us keep our fence line straight. Once we had our end posts stabilized and our plum line, we positioned the rest of the posts and stabilized them in the same way.
Once we had all the posts placed and stabilized we mixed up some quikrete in a wheel barrow by following the instructions on the package. We put about 2 inches of gravel in the bottom of each post hole around the 4x4s. We then poured the quikrete into the wholes on top of the gravel. We filled the holes 3/4 of the way with concrete, waited 24 hours for all the concrete to dry then we tamped in the dirt on top of the concrete, around the post.
Next we added the middle supports connecting each posts. The 2×4 cross beams will be what we will attach all of the dog ear planks to.
At this point we were ready to get moving on attaching our planks. With two of us it took no time at all. Well…. It did but not as much as you would think. We started in the corner and made sure that the first board was level and continued on down the line until we reached the end. I would run and grab the posts and prop them up against the 2x4s and Cole would screw them in by placing two screw 3 inches apart at the top of the board, 1 screw in the middle of the board and two screws at the bottom of the board. This section took us a few hours to attach all the board. With the last board in place there was only one thing left to do, take a chain saw to the tops of the 4×4’s so that they were even with the fence line. You can see this in the photo below. To the left is an uncut 4×4 post and the rest are cut down so they cant be seen.
We knew we wanted a double gate so we added a post at the corner of the house. Between the last post of the fence line and the corner of the house we installed a gate. The construction was pretty simple we used 1x4s to build a box frame, the corners connected with L-brackets and screwed in the planks to the frame. We added the diagonal cross beams to add stability and support. Our gate construction was part of the first phase of our project.
We created what we like to call an invisible gate. There is no handle or latch on the outside. Instead we added a latch on the inside, drilled a small hole above the latch and used a wire as a “handle” of sorts to open it from the outside.
Since we wanted a double gate but we knew that wood double gates tend to sag over time, we added a “lock” to the right side. This method adds stability and also allows the latch to catch and not just let the gates swing open when pushed.
You can find this hardware set and most local hardware stores. We got ours from Home Depot. The pvc pipe you see in the ground is not included. We added this pvc because the stake going into the soft ground doesn’t really do much good. So the addition of the pvc adds rigidity and an element of security. To install the pvc we just got a piece that would fit over the stake, hammered the pvc into the ground and used pvc cutters to cut it flush with the ground.
INSTALL: PART 2
Here is the part that I recommend that you do not do. It made sense for us to break this job up into sections at the time. We both work full time jobs and lead pretty busy lives so you can imagine what happens when we say “we’ll do it later.” Weeks, then months go by and suddenly you realize that if you hired someone to do it the job would have been done months ago….. It definitely gets you thinking. But we are firm believers in finishing what you started even if you started it months and months ago… Life happens…In this phase we installed the fence from the jut out in the left side of the photo to the corner on the right, 44 ft total. Thankfully the second part of our fence install went muuuuuch smoother. Because we already had privacy fence on the remainder of our yard, and the 4x4s were still in solid condition….. WE CHEATED!
We didn’t even remove the old 2x4s or planks. We just added new 2x4s to the front of the 4×4 posts and then added new planks to make our fence look consistent with phase one.
The photo above is the outside corner of the fence. Here you can see the old fence (darker older wood) post and planks and the newer 2x4s and planks that we attached to the front.
This photo (above) is in between the fence planks. You can see the older 2x4s and planks on the right, and the newer fencing on the left facing the inside of our yard.
Genius! Right!?! Yea we thought so until we realized that when we go to stain our fence we will never be able to actually do it properly and coat all sides… Is it perfect? No. Did we cheat? Absolutely. Is it the right way to do it? Probably not. But it looks a ton nicer. It is sturdy and it worked for us for the time being.
INSTALL: PART 3
The next phase in our fence install had to wait until we could get some trees removed. We hired this job out. We did not feel comfortable safely bringing down the trees that were about 20 ft in every direction from a house (either mine or my neighbors) and power lines. For this section we decided we were going to remove the existing 2x4s from the 4×4 posts and add new 2x4s and new planks. In the photo above is the outside of this portion of the fence, below is the inside. With the last 46 ft of fence complete we were done with our fence install.
BEFORE & AFTER
Our fence was the very first step in transforming our backyard. The last two photos above are what our backyard currently looks like. You can see what a difference the fence made and how it helps pull it all together. There is still a lot we want to do to our backyard but in the past few years we have made a pretty decent dent, I believe. Eventually, we will stain our fence the same color as our garden box. That is if this Carolina weather ever chills out with the 100 degrees and afternoon showers every other day. For more posts of our backyard transformation don’t forget to check out our patio and our garden box post.
Amber and Daniel approached their fence differently. To see their potentially more logical approach check out their post on their privacy fence installation.