The majority of residential backyards suffer from varying grade issues that can ultimately affect fence installation. While the rises and drops across a yard’s elevation can not always be seen by the naked eye, but can be easily detected when a level string line is run along the yard for fence grade comparisons. This helps determine a proper course of action for fence installation based on the severity of a yard’s varied grade.
When installing a sloped fence onto a particularly hilly area, there are multiple fence installation methods. The method chosen may be related to the severity of a hill’s slope, which will also affect how the variable grade fence is actually installed, usually through one of the following methods:
- Run the fence following the precise grade of the ground: As a result the grade of the fence will not be level along the top, but there will not be any gaps between the bottom of the fence and the ground.
- Run the fence straight at the top: While this will obviously maintain the fence’s level up top, it will create gaps between the bottom of the fence and the ground. If an area has a prominent hill, this may not be a viable option.
- Step installation: This entails dropping the fence down, or stepping it up, at the locations where the grade changes the most.
While all these methods have their applications when installing fence onto a varying grade, the type of fence material selected can be a determining factor in selecting which method is the most conducive.
For instance, some professional grade Vinyl (PVC) and aluminum fences are “rackable,” while others are not. The term “rackable” simply means that the fence can follow the changing grade of the ground to a limited degree, allowing for the installation to follow the grade of the ground.
Wood fence can be installed using any of the aforementioned installation methods, but requires the fence to be constructed on site, piece-by-piece, since prefabricated fence panels will not adapt in the same manner. Onsite fence fabrications also require exact measurements of the yard be taken for proper adjustment. This style of wood fence is often referred to as “stick built wood fences” and easily customizable.
When installing fence on a hilly area it is always recommended to talk to your local fence professionals to see what type of fence and installation method would best suit your grade issue needs.
Article Contributed by Michael Fugere.