Projects & Inspiration

How to Build a Fence on a Slope

Updated August 7, 2019

Posted by Ashley VanderWall

Building a fence on a sloped landscape?

You can conquer the slope using one of two installation methods. Which method you choose depends on severity of slope, the type of fence you're installing, and aesthetic preference.

Method 1 - The Step Method

The Step Method is so named because the fence mimics a set of stairs. It gradually steps up or down the slope. The backer rails are perpendicular to the pickets and remain level, rather than parallel to the slope. This will leave gaps between the bottom of the pickets and the ground. Depending on the severity of slope, these gaps could be large enough for small pets to escape.

If you are using preassembled fence panels to build your fence, you must use the Step Method. Preassembled panels do not offer any give or flexibility on the slope. Keep in mind, when staking out line posts for the step method, you’ll need a true horizontal measurement for post placement. Don’t measure parallel to the ground!

Method 2 - The Parallel Method

With the Parallel Method, also called racked fence, the fence follows the contours of the slope. The backer rails are parallel to the sloped ground and the pickets stay true vertical. The gap between the bottom of the pickets and the ground remains consistent throughout the entire fence, creating a uniform look. This eliminates any gaps where small pets could escape.

Because the fence is built to conform to the slope, you can use the parallel method only when building with individual components. Preassembled panels cannot be installed this way.

Wondering whether you should build with individual components or preassembled panels? Read the pros and cons of each in this blog post.

Looking for material for your next project? Find Outdoor Essentials wood fence at a store near you!