How to Install Wood Fences on Slopes


Fences mark boundaries, provide privacy and define spaces--usually in straight lines. Those straight lines, however, sometimes cross over land that slopes up or down, disrupting the fences' clean lines. With some advance planning, homeowners wanting vertical board and masonry fences can adapt their construction procedures to install attractive fences on slopes.

Vertical board fences

Step 1

Determine the extent of the slope. Push stakes into the ground at the top and bottom of the slope, along the fence line. Fill tubing with water. Place one end of tubing next to stake at the top of the slope with water level even with top of stake. Lay the tubing between stakes, ensuring it has no bends or kinks. Hold the other end of the tube next to the bottom stake. Locate and mark the water line. Measure the height of stake at the bottom of the slope and the height of the water line at the top of the slope. Subtract bottom measurement from top measurement to obtain total rise of the slope. For example, if the stake at the bottom of the slope equals 5 inches high and the water mark at the top of the slope equals 15 inches, the rise is 10 inches.

Step 2

Stake out fence placement, including corner posts, intermediate posts and gates. Space fence posts evenly along fence line and count the number of sections needed along slope. Divide the rise by the number of sections to determine the number of inches each section needs to rise for even framing steps. For example, if the rise equals 10 inches and 5 sections of fence will be used, each section will need to rise 2 inches for even steps.

Step 3

Dig holes for fence posts. Measure hole depths accurately to ensure posts will rest at the correct heights. Pour 6 inches of gravel into each hole. Set posts into hole; add concrete.

Step 4

Nail rails to posts. Keep spacing on rails consistent for each pair of posts, adjusting for the required rise.

Step 5

Stretch cord between each pair of posts. Attach infill boards to rails, aligning their tops with the cord to ensure that they remain even above each section's top rails. Cut off the bottom of each infill board individually, ½ to 1 inch above the ground. The infill boards will vary in length.

Masonry Fences or Walls

Step 1

Determine slope and fence placement as for vertical board fences.

Step 2

Build masonry intermediate posts, or piers. Dig holes for concrete footings. Make footings at least 12 inches deep and twice as wide as the each post is thick. Pour concrete into holes. Prepare mortar. Lay the first course of pier below ground level. Add Z ties across each course for reinforcement.

Step 3

Dig trenches for fence footings along the fence line. Keep trench depth consistent along the slope, again at least 12 inches deep and twice as wide as fence.

Step 4

Use chalk to mark correct placement of bricks along footing. Bricklayers usually construct brick walls by starting at each end and working toward the center. However, for walls on a slope, begin laying the course for each section at the lowest spot on the slope. Gradually extend higher courses along the footing as required by the slope. Use level regularly while constructing courses. Take care to complete each section at the appropriate height to preserve the correct step measurements.

Tips and Warnings

  • Follow all local building and safety codes. Obtain any necessary permits before beginning fence construction. Follow safety precautions while using tools and working on construction projects. Always keep a first aid kit handy for accidents.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden stakes
  • Length of tubing
  • Post-hole digger or power auger
  • 4x4 posts
  • Gravel
  • Concrete
  • Cord or twine
  • 2x4 railing boards
  • 1x6 infill boards
  • Nails
  • Shovel or back hoe
  • Bricks
  • Chalk
  • Mortar
  • Metal Z ties
  • Trowel
  • 4-foot level


  • "The Fence Bible;" Jeff Beneke; 2005
Keywords: fences on slopes, wood fences, masonry fences

About this Author

Based in Brazos County, Texas, Jennifer Wiginton has been writing and editing since 1989. She has published two cookbooks and articles in “The Joyful Woman” and “The Common Bond.” Wiginton has two degrees and a Certificate in Homeland Security from Texas A&M University.

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