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How to Install a Split Rail Fence

Installing a split rail fence is an great way to add character to your yard. Here's how to install a split rail fence in your yard.


Expected Project Length:

Half a day

Skill Level:



Corner posts (if necessary) Pea gravel Line posts Stakes End posts Fence rails


Post hole digger Hammer Carpenter's level String A few small nails Measuring tape Shovel

Warning: To be sure that your project is clear of all underground utilities, call 888-DIG-SAFE before you start. Also, be sure you are on YOUR property before starting to dig post holes.

11 Steps on 'How to Install a Split Rail Fence'

1. Figure out fence path

figure out fence path

Lay out the fence along its path to get a rough idea of where the posts go.

2. Decide how many sections you need

decide how many sections you need

Divide the overall length of the fence by the length of one rail to figure how many sections you will need.

3. Stretch string for guidance

Stretch string for guidance

Stretch the string along the ground to determine a straight line for your fence.

4. Assemble fence while it's lying on ground

assemble fence while it's lying on ground

Assemble the fence while it is lying on the ground to determine exactly where to dig the post holes.

5. Dig holes

dig holes

Using the post hole digger, dig the holes approximately 10" in diameter and approximately 6" deeper than they need to be.

6. Place gravel in holes

place gravel in holes

Place 6" of gravel in the bottom of each hole to drain water away from the posts.

7. Place posts in the holes

place posts in the holes

Starting with the ends, place the posts in the holes and replace the soil around them. Be sure the holes for the rails are facing in the right direction. Use the level to be sure that the posts are square.

8. Tamp down soil

tamp down soil

Tamp down the soil firmly around the posts. Mound up some soil around each post to drain away moisture.

9. Check posts height

check posts height

To be sure that the height of all the posts is consistent, run a string along the top of the end posts as a guide.

10. Dig holes for line posts

dig holes for line posts

Dig the holes for the line posts following the same procedure.

11. Insert rails

insert rails

When all the posts are in, insert the rails.