Last Updated: August 9, 2016
We live in a wild world with diverse, dramatic terrain. When it comes to most landscaping projects (including fencing), flat yards are preferable because they require less prep time and fewer adjustments. However, that doesn’t mean that you should have your yard leveled. And of course in many cases, leveling an entire yard would be expensive, impractical, and (to be frank) aesthetically boring. Plus, few of us have a real choice in the matter. So embrace your hilly yard! And while you’re at it, learn how to install fencing on a slope. By using one of two methods – raking or stepping – you can work with the natural landscape of your yard and learn how to install fencing on a slope.
How to Install Fencing on a Slope
When learning how to install fencing on a slope, you will need to use either a raking method or a stepping method. Both options are readily available and viable for many lawns, but they are significantly different, so don’t make a slapdash decision when selecting between the two. Before you choose, let’s look at the differences between the two processes so that you can make an informed decision.
A raked fence (also called a racked fence) is manufactured with a strong angle in mind. So the rails are parallel to the ground and the pickets (which are not square with the rails) point straight up. With this method, the gap between the pickets and the ground remains about the same throughout the entire fence (on sloped areas and flat areas alike), creating a uniform look and preventing your pets from escaping through gaps. However, this method is not appropriate for all sloped lawns. If the angle of the slope is very steep, raked fencing may not be possible. The limit is often 12-inches across a 6-foot section. In addition, if the slope of your yard fluctuates dramatically, raked fencing may be tricky to install.
At MMC Fencing & Railing, the fences we carry from Digger Specialties are level sections with the ability to rake, which varies by type. When circumstances warrant, we can order specific features which enable us to rake the fence to almost any amount.
Stepped fencing, on the other hand, utilizes rails that are perpendicular to the pickets (like the fencing used for level land). Each section is attached to the post to accommodate the slope of the land. So in the end, your fence will mimic a set of stairs in shape, increasing in height as you move further up the slope. With this method, there will be gaps (often triangular in shape). Depending on their size, the gaps might allow a pet to escape. They also create a slightly less uniform and consistent look, because the bottoms of the panels don’t follow the slope of the land.
If these descriptions are confusing or you’re having trouble imagining the techniques, don’t worry! Check out the images below to better understand the formation and appearance of raked and stepped fences.
Choosing Between Raked and Stepped Fencing
Looking at the photos above, you can see how raked panels follow the slope of the ground. The gap beneath the fence remain even, consistent, and neat. Stepped panels, on the other hand, gradually make their way up the hill like steps, leaving triangular gaps at each end post. If you’re debating the merits of raked fencing and stepped fencing, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I mind having gaps beneath my fence? If you do, choose raked fencing. If you don’t, choose either method. Gaps beneath a fence can be risky, inconvenient, or just aesthetically unappealing. Many homeowners don’t like their fence to have gaps because they allow pets to escape the yard, and they allow unwelcome wildlife to enter the yard.
- Which style do you prefer aesthetically? If you like uniform gaps and straight lines, and you would prefer that the fence followed the slope of the land, choose raked fencing. If you prefer a stair-like style that moves upward in blocks, choose stepped fencing.
- How steep is the land? Most fences can only be raked so far (if they can be raked at all). For example, a fencing product might specify that it can only accommodate an increase in height of 12 inches for every 6-inch-wide panel. Thus, if the slope of your land is shallow, you can choose either method. If the slope is steep, however, you must choose stepped fencing.
How to Install Fencing on a Slope
As you can see, the key to installing a fence on a slope lies in selecting the right sloped fencing product. Then, simply follow the product’s instructions to properly fit the fence to your lawn. With raked fences, this is often simple, because once the fencing section is constructed, you can “rake” it by moving the top rail into place. To see what I mean, check out the 0:30 mark of this video. Although the video is about installing a railing product, the same process applies to fencing products. With stepped fencing, you will purchase the same panels you would purchase for flat land. However, you will need posts that allow for one panel to be positioned higher (or lower) than another.
That’s all there is to it! You’ve just learned how to install fencing on a slope.
Although a slope may seem like an insurmountable obstacle when you’re planning the construction of a new fence, it’s really not so different from constructing a fence on flat ground. Just be sure that you select the right product, measure carefully, and follow the instructions.
Once you choose your method, you can order the parts and begin installation. Speaking of which, if you’re looking for a new vinyl or aluminum fence to protect your property, be sure to check out MMC Fencing & Railing. In our online store, you’ll find high-quality and virtually maintenance-free vinyl and aluminum fencing systems. All of our products come with a protective warranty and are built to last a lifetime. To learn more about our vinyl and aluminum fencing systems, please check out the MMC Fencing & Railing online store or give us a call at 1-866-931-5002.