How To Line Up Fence Posts Straight

Fences provide privacy and protection, define property boundaries, and contribute to the overall beauty of your lawn. If you plan to build one, make sure the posts are straight and aligned properly. It determines the stability of the structure and affects the overall appearance of your fence. We have researched every aspect you need to know about aligning your fence so that it is easier for you. 

These are the steps:  

  1. Clear the area of the fence line 
  2. Set a reference point 
  3. Determine the borders  
  4. Establish post placements 
  5. Place temporary markers
  6. Excavate the foundation 
  7. Position, line up and erect the posts 

When building and aligning a fence, there are several methods to follow. This article aims to simplify the process so you can more easily complete the job. 

Gorgeous Fence installed on a newly built house, How To Line Up Fence Posts Straight

Preliminary Considerations To Install Fencing

Before you proceed with the actual construction, there are several things that are necessary to be done.

First, determine your boundary lines to make sure the fence is built within your property. You can use your parcel or plat map to establish the perimeter of your lot or yard. This will prevent future problems of having to dismantle the fence and build a new one if border issues arise.

Second, decide on the actual area or location of your fence. Consider its distance from the house or the road for instance, then try to picture the appearance and overall look of your yard. Also, the space between your house and the fence itself should be wide enough to accommodate different functions. 

Finally, consult with your local utility companies before actually digging and find out if there are existing electrical or gas lines, water pipes, and other underground cables that run through your property. This will prevent accidents and damage.

How do you line up fence posts straight?

Clear the Fence Line Area

Remove all debris, grass, rocks, and other objects in the path of the fence and make the area as level as possible. When you clear vegetation like bushes, dig out the roots to prevent them from growing back.

If trees are present along with the proposed structure, get proper authorization from your local municipality, some states prohibit cutting trees down since they may be blanketed by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). Take note of this because there are severe penalties for ignoring the ordinance.

Set a Reference Point

Select a permanent feature like the front wall of your house as a starting point. Make three equal measurements, one from the wall on one side of the house to the fence line, another in the middle, and finally on the opposite side.

Use pegs to mark the positions. You now have three reference points of equal distance parallel to the front of the house.

Determine the Borders 

Connect the three points with a taut nylon cord and extend it to the corners or border where the fence ends. This serves as your guide regarding the linear orientation of the structure.

It also represents the front portion of your fence. Measuring its total length will give you an idea of the number of posts you need.

Establish Post-placement

The standard distance between two posts ranges from 8 to 12 feet. To simplify, let's assume the total length of your fence from one end to the next is 100 feet. You will need 8 posts at 12 feet apart or 12 posts at 8 feet from each other. If you prefer, use 10 posts at 10 feet apart.

Depending on your choice, you can now proceed to divide the total length and plot the post-placement.

Place Temporary Markers 

Lined up vintage fence

Before digging or excavating, place temporary markers like wooden poles on each post-placement point and check the alignment with a mason line. A nylon cord would suffice, just affix it at both ends of the fence and make sure all the tips of your pole markers fall into its projected line.

Make adjustments if one or several do not fall into place. 

Excavate the Foundation 

It's time to dig the base support for each post, the depth of the foundation should at least be one-third to half of the exposed fence. To illustrate, if your intended fence is 6 feet high from the ground or surface, it should have a base 2 to 3 feet deep.

Position, Line Up, and Erect the Posts

Finally, you can set the posts into the foundation, and use temporary but sturdy bracing to make sure they stay in place. Posts might shift when concrete is poured into the base.

Before setting the posts permanently, recheck the alignment one final time. If you are satisfied with the general results, complete and finish the job. 

What if my property line is not straight?

New Garden Fence installed

If your yard is angulated or irregularly shaped, you can still construct a fairly uniform fence. Simply determine and plot the points where it is best to build a straight structure. Using a reference point, measure and mark equal distances that conform to the nature of your yard.

Plan the fence within the allowable territory. For instance, the right side of the lawn border is 50 feet away from the house whereas the opposite end is only 20 feet and the middle portion is 40 feet into the yard. Place landmarks and interconnect the fence components based on the above steps.

What about keeping boards or pickets straight?

Picket white fence on lawn installed

The next concern is how to keep the boards or pickets upright.

Use a plumb line to determine their verticality, suspend the weight (plumb bob) above each panel, and simply align the sides of your board to the orientation of the downward string.

If the plumb line and fence picket are parallel or fall on the same axis, you may affix them.

How to corner fences?

If the fence has to enclose a property, they have to include a corner transition, the best and simplest way to set the dimensions is to use a 90-degree carpenters tool. Align the established side with the proposed component, making sure they are perpendicular to each other. 

How to build a fence on uneven ground?

Uneven fence installed

There are three classifications of uneven ground that will determine the method you will use that is best suited to the situation.

Level-topped Fence

As the name implies, the top edges of the fence are properly aligned. If your terrain is uneven but it does not slope, this is the most ideal option. Establish the posts and boards, then depending on the depth of the slope, you can fill those gaps with soil, rocks, sand, or gravel. 

Stepped Fence

If your property is considerably sloped, a stepped fence is the best-suited option. Simply place the panels or boards higher than that of the first - in a stair-like manner.

The problem with this is that it leaves a triangular space below the panels. This can be an issue if you have kids or pets. To address the problem, you can cover the hole with plants, bushes, or any other landscaping materials.

Racking Fences

Racking fences is ideal for very steep slopes. The posts are placed at different levels following the ground, and the rails are aligned with the slope. Panels or boards stay upright and are placed on the ground. The top of the fence from the first post to the last post is diagonal in shape.

Custom Fencing

If your property has an irregular slope or terrain, call a local company to address this issue. It is best to leave it with the professionals since they already have the necessary tools and equipment.

In Closing 

Gorgeous Fence installed on a newly built house

Fences need to be aligned to ensure the best overall quality. This can be done by following those simple steps we had mentioned.

If you have found this article helpful, check out these other two topics:

What Type Of Privacy Fence Lasts The Longest?

What Is The Maximum Distance Between Fence Posts?