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    Fencing 101: your guide to farm and home fencing

    Authored by Carol J. Alexander

    Living your dream Life Out Here requires a certain degree of boundaries. Creating those boundaries includes building fences. So, whether you want to corral livestock, protect your garden from deer, keep the children in the backyard, or block the snow from hiding the roadway, there’s a fence for that. And you’ve come to the right place to learn the types of fencing, how to build them, and what supplies you’ll need. 


    Fencing how-to

    No matter what type of fence you want to build, proper planning is the first step to a successful project. Knowing why you need a fence and where you want to put it are two critical steps in the planning phase. You’ll also want to check with local authorities about any permitting or zoning regulations, set a budget to know what you can afford, and choose the best materials for the job. 

    For a complete guide to help you plan a perfect fence that will meet your needs, read Planning a Fence Step-by-Step.


    Fencing supplies and tools

    To build a fence, you need the right tools and supplies. Some of what you need you probably already have. Other items may not be necessary but will make the job easier. And then others are specific to certain types of fencing.

    Read All the Tools and Supplies Needed for a DIY Fence to start your list of must-haves and a list of nice-to-haves for each kind of fence you’ll want to build on your property.



    Types of fence materials

    Whether you own a large spread or a home in the suburbs, you’ll want fencing for certain needs. Typically, you’ll find six types of fencing: electric, picket, tensile wire, split rail, metal wire, and wood. Let’s look at each one a bit closer.

    Electric fencing

    Primarily used to keep animals where you want them, electric fencing is a versatile medium. You’ll find it in high-tensile wire, mesh, and underground buried cables. An electric fence has electricity running through strands of wire. In one form or another, it’s an excellent option for holding livestock, poultry, or dogs.  An electric fence also deters predators and keeps wild critters out of your garden.

    Read Installing an Electric Fence before building one around your place.

    Tensile wire fencing

    High-tensile wire comes in galvanized steel and aluminum. Both are excellent conductors of electricity and are commonly used for electric fences to keep livestock.

    For more information, read High-tensile Fence: Benefits and Building Guide.



    Wood fencing

    As a popular material, wood takes care of many of your fencing needs, from split rail and picket fences to privacy and board fences. A board fence consists of several rows of 1-inch boards stretched between pressure-treated posts. When stained or painted, this type of fence is a smart-looking addition to your property. Its attractive appearance is an upgrade for the roadside or horse pasture.

    Picket

    When you hear picket fence, you see a short, white fence around a house in the suburbs. But a picket fence can take many shapes for various uses. Yet, it can serve as a decorative fence around a home, garden, or roadside. But place tall pickets close together, and you have a popular type of privacy fence.

    Read Privacy Fencing: Choosing Your Style and Install for ideas before planning your picket fence. 

    Split rail

    To create the picture of pastoral life, you could install a split rail fence along your roadside property. Split rail is a simple design where log rails slip into holes in wooden posts. Though this type of fence isn’t meant to keep livestock, pets, or children in their respective places, they do provide an old-time look to an otherwise plain boundary line. Creating a split rail fence is a DIY-friendly project requiring few tools.

    Read How to Install a Split Rail Fence for instructions to build your own.



    Metal fencing

    In addition to high-tensile wire, metal fencing comes in several types. Metal also makes a gorgeous decorative fence around your property's perimeter or yard. With so many options, you’re sure to choose a suitable metal fence for your place.

    Read more about barbed wire, welded or woven wire and decorative metal fences.

    Barbed wire

    Barbed wire is created by twisting two strands of wire together and inserting sharp, knotted barbs every three to five inches. In areas where electric wire isn’t an option, barbed wire is affordable and suitable for large livestock, like cattle. Although, it’s never used for horses as they like to rub against a fence and can become injured.

    Learn how to safely install a barbed wire fence by reading our guide, Stretching Barbed Wire.

    Welded wire

    Welded wire fencing is created by tack welding horizontal and vertical wires at the intersections to form a 2x4-inch grid pattern. Though you can also get it with 1-inch openings to create small animal enclosures or chicken runs. Welded wire is also suitable for protecting your garden from wild vegetarians.

    Read How to Build a Welded Wire Fence for more information.

    Woven wire

    Woven wire fencing is created by weaving horizontal and vertical wires and knotting them at the intersections. The openings come in various sizes and may not be consistent. For instance, you can find it with larger holes at the top and smaller ones at the bottom. This is an economical way to provide fencing that young livestock can’t slip through. Typically called “field fencing,” woven wire is ideal for fields, orchards, and all your perimeter needs.

    For more on field fencing, read the Ultimate Guide to Farm Fencing.

    Decorative metal

    Decorative wrought iron fencing is strong, beautiful, and lasts virtually forever. But, an easy-to-install painted aluminum picket panel or steel grid panel fence is easier on the wallet. Their classic, sleek designs are both elegant and practical. To keep dogs from climbing over, choose the picket panel. Or create a living fence by encouraging climbing plants to grow on the grid panel style. 

    Choosing fence posts

    It’s important to choose the right type of posts for your fence. The following are the most popular types of fence posts, a description of their uses, and how to get them in the ground.


    T-post fence posts

    Property owners use T-posts for all types of wire fencing: woven, welded, and high-tensile. They’re made of heavy metal shaped in a T to provide strength. T-posts are typically driven into the ground using a post driver. However, for soft soil and temporary use, you can get a light-duty T-post that should be handled more carefully. Both types have anchors at the bottom to hold them in the ground.

    For more information, read How to Install T-Post Fencing.

    Wood fence posts

    Typically, wooden fence posts are made of pressure-treated pine in 6-8-foot lengths. The wood is treated with chromate copper arsenate (CCA) to prevent rot and repel insects. The treatment helps it to last 25 to 30 years. Pressure-treated posts are suited for barbed or woven wire and board fencing.

    You may prefer to avoid chemically treated wood. In that case, you can find posts made of hardwoods that are rot and insect-resistant. Cedar, locust, and redwood are popular fence post species that last 20 to 25 years. But you’ll want to find species available in your area.

    For more information about wooden fence posts, read Wooden Fence Post Buying Guide: Choosing Suitable Wood Posts for a Long-Living Fence.


    Setting fence posts

    Unless you’re using T-posts, which are pushed through the soil using a post driver, setting fence posts begins with digging holes. You can do it manually using a post-hole digger. Or, you can use a gas-powered auger. Once the hole is dug, you fill it with some gravel for drainage, tamp it down, insert the post, and then fill the space with fast-setting concrete mix. Until the concrete sets, use 2x4s to brace the post upright.

    Read How to Set Fence Posts in Concrete or Gravel for more detailed instructions.



    Fencing for your Life Out Here

    Life presents all types of opportunities to build a fence. From the farm to the garden to the yard, all of the types of fences we’ve mentioned have a home.


    Garden fence

    Whether you want something purely decorative or a fence to keep rabbits and other pests out of your garden, you have various options.

    • Picket and metal fences make a pretty picture when installed around a garden.
    • Chicken wire and welded wire work well for temporary fencing to keep rabbits away from your organic carrots.

    Learn what type of fencing you’d like around your garden by reading our Garden Fence Buying Guide.


    Privacy fence

    Sometimes even rural life doesn’t feel secluded enough, and you need something to keep your backyard from view. Whether made of wood or vinyl, stockade, lock board, and shadowbox-style fencing complement any home style.

    For more information about privacy fencing and instructions on installing one, read Privacy Fencing: Choose Your Style and Install.


    Farm fence

    The fence types most suited to the farm include:

    • Woven wire for fields and pasture
    • Welded wire for small animal enclosures
    • High-tensile electric fence to keep animals where you want them
    • Barbed wire for keeping large livestock contained
    • Board fencing for horses and road frontage

    Learn everything you need to know by reading our Ultimate Guide to Farm Fencing.




    Fencing for your animals

    Life Out Here wouldn’t be the same without animals of one type or another. And whether pets or livestock, you’ll need fencing to keep them secure.

    Fencing for chickens

    The main thing to remember about fencing in chickens is that you want the openings at ground level to be small enough to contain chicks. To begin, decide if you want a permanent run or something temporary. Layout where you want it and decide on the materials to use. Chicken wire is the most popular choice, but other fencing types also work.

    Read Chicken Fencing 101 for more information.

    Fencing for dogs

    The right type of fence for your dog depends on the dog, your family, and your lifestyle. Some fencing styles are well suited for your Yorkie but won’t keep a Golden Retriever contained. Popular dog fences include chain link, wood or vinyl privacy fence panels, and underground electric dog fence.

    For more information, read Choosing the Best Fence for Your Dog.

    Fencing for livestock

    No type of fence will hold all breeds of livestock. For example, animals that like to rub on a fence need one style, while livestock with horns need another. Electric is a possibility for some but not suited to others. And, if you want portable fencing for rotational grazing, there are other options still.

    To learn more about livestock fence options, read How to Choose the Right Fence Type for Your Livestock.

    Fencing for goats

    Goats are notorious escape artists. And a curious goat can get its horns stuck in the openings of a fence intended for cattle, where they can strangle or become coyote bait. These traits make choosing the right fence for your caprine friends a critical task.

    For more information, and to help you choose the right fence for your herd, read How to Choose the Best Goat Fence.

    Fencing for horses

    Horse fencing needs to be tall enough for the animal isn’t tempted to jump. And, because they often injure themselves stepping down a field fence, you want the openings of a wire fence too narrow for hooves to fit through. Experts agree your horse fence should be secure enough to contain your most difficult ride.

    To learn more about building the perfect horse fence, read Horse Fence FAQ: Everything You Need to Know



    Specialty fencing

    Sometimes, you face some peculiar circumstances. For those instances, we have specialty fencing options.

    Snow and safety fencing

    Both snow and safety fencing are purposeful, reduce risk, and helpful on the homestead. If you live in areas of the country that gets a lot of snow and high winds, you’ll want to learn more about snow fencing. And for special projects that you want to keep people from getting into, like wet cement, there’s safety fence.

    To help you choose the best snow or safety fencing, read our Complete Guide to Snow and Safety Fence.

    Rabbit-proof fencing

    Ever feel like you’re fighting to keep the vegetables in your garden for the family? Rabbits are cute until your bean sprouts disappear before your eyes. If this sounds familiar, you need rabbit-proof fencing around your garden.

    Read Rabbit Proof Fencing to Protect Your Garden and enjoy more vegetables this season.


    Get all your fence materials, fence tools, supplies, gates and gate openers for any fencing project at TSC.



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