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Your Position: Home - Home Garden - How to Build a Wire Fence

How to Build a Wire Fence

Author: Clarissa

Aug. 27, 2021

Home & Garden

When you need a garden fence thats steady and installs quickly, building a wire garden gate is the best solution. For gardeners, welded-wire mesh fence will keep out rabbits and dogs and other animals, while PVC-coated galvanized wire buried down the ground will keep out woodchucks and moles. A gate set at one end or both will allow easy access for a wheelbarrow.  

Installing wire fence is usually quick and inexpensive work. Wire fence installation is easiest and fastest when using metal fence posts that are driven into the ground. A more steady version uses regular wood posts set in holes. This guide walks you through how to build a wire fence with wood posts. 

▆ Step 1: Plan and Mark the Fence Location

Step 1-Plan and Mark the Fence Location.jpg

Before you learn how to build a wire fence, the first step is to carefully plan and mark the location of the fence posts and gate. When planning, use a string like masons line. Masons line is a good choice because it is strong and flexible enough to be pulled tightly. Run the string line to represent either the outside or inside perimeter of the fence. 

masons mate in use.jpg

Lay the perimeter of the fence with boards and mason's wire, extending a few feet at each end so that they cross at the corners.


Use the Pythagorean Theorem (Method 3, 4, 5) to square the corners. Measure 3 feet from the point where the two lines intersect and make a mark on the string. Measure 4 feet along a line perpendicular to that line and make a mark. Measure between the 3-foot and 4-foot marks and adjust the line until these marks are exactly 5 feet apart.


Repeat this process so that the rest of the corners are squared.


You can check the square by measuring the diagonals. If both diagonals have the same measurement, the corners are square.


Use spray paint to mark the position of each corner post.


Measure the string line to determine the location of the field post 8 feet from the corner post and mark the location within the string line.


If installing a gate, mark the location of the gate posts 36 inches apart so that the gate is wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow.

▆ Step 2: Dig Holes for Posts

Step 2-Dig Holes for Posts.jpg

Call 811 before you dig. Your local utility company will mark the location of any water, gas and power lines in your yard. Ypu shoule avoid digging near any marked lines.


Use a post hole excavator or a two-person drill to dig a hole. You can rent a drill rig to quickly dig out post holes. If using a drill rig, avoid any areas marked by the utility company. For safety reasons, dig by hand if you need to dig a hole within 18 to 24 inches of a marked utility.


Dig an 8-inch diameter hole to a depth of about 1/3 the height of the post, plus about 6 inches of gravel.


In colder climates, dig the hole below the frost line to avoid heaving. You can check the frost line in your area online or contact your local building office. Failure to excavate sufficiently below the frost line can cause posts to tumble out of the ground as the temperature changes.

▆ Step 3: Dig a Trench

Step 3-Dig a Trench.jpg

We will use two kinds of wire mesh to build this fence - the PVC coated wire mesh underground and metal wire gate on the floor. The PVC-coated wire at the bottom will be installed below grade to keep critters from burrowing under the fence. Dig a trench to bury the bottom wire mesh.


Depending on the size of your project, use a trencher or trenching shovel to dig the trench.


The trench should be approximately one foot deep at the perimeter of the fence. 

▆ Step 4: Mark and Cut Notches on Posts

Step 4-Mark and Cut Notches on Posts.jpg

The posts and rails will connect a notch system. Create notches on your posts for the top and bottom rails to fit into. 

Use the height of your wire fence to mark the top and bottom rails. The bottom railing should be 6 to 10 inches off the ground. 

Using a 2 x 4 as a guide, mark the space needed for the top and bottom rails.

Use a circular saw and chisel to cut notches in each post. Make several cuts inside your notch guidelines to a depth comparable to the thickness of your top railing board. Use a chisel to chisel out the wood piece by piece to make the notches. 

Repeat this process for the top and bottom of each post. 

▆ Step 5: Install the posts

Step 5-Install the posts.jpg

Pour 6 inches of drainage stone into the bottom of each hole and tamp the stone down with the end of the post.

Use drainage stone mixed with soil to backfill. 

Add fast-setting concrete to the goal posts. Mix and allow to set according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Before the concrete sets and the backfill is tamped, use a post level to make sure all posts are plum-shaped.

Use supports to hold the goal posts straight while the concrete cures. 

▆ Step 6: Install Top and Bottom Rails

Step 6-Install Top and Bottom Rails.jpg

Tip: If it is possible, get somebody help for this step. Securing the fence rails is easier when another person supports the rail as you drill. 

Fix the guide in the recess and mark the position where you want to fix it with screws.

Drill pilot holes in the locations you marked.

Place the rails in the recesses of the posts. Make sure the railing is level, then secure it with 3" deck screws.

Repeat this process on the perimeter of the fence, installing the top and bottom rails.

▆ Step 7: Staple Mesh to Posts and Top Rail

Step 7-Staple Mesh to Posts and Top Rail.jpg

With the top and bottom rails secured to the posts, you can begin installing wire fencing mesh now.

With the help of an assistant, unfold enough mesh to reach the end post from the end post. When you reach the posts, pull the netting tight.

A stretcher bar and a "go-along" winch will help tighten the fence netting. You can purchase a pole or make one temporarily with two 2×4's cut to fence height with bolts every 12-18 inches. Sandwich one end of the wire between the boards and bolt it together to distribute the pulling force.

Align the end of the net with the edge of the post. Align the top of the net so that it falls in the middle of the railing.

Secure the netting to the top railing by tapping it with 1 3/4" galvanized fence nails every 3". 

Go through the railing to the next post.

When you reach the next post, pull the mesh and nail it vertically to the post every 6 inches. 

▆ Step 8: Splice in a New Roll if Needed

Step 8-Splice in a New Roll if Needed.jpg

If you need more than one roll of fencing, cut the first roll flat against the edge of the post as described in the previous step.


Start a new roll on the same post, positioning it so that at least one row of rectangles overlaps the rectangles on the post.

▆ Step 9: Staple Mesh to Posts and Bottom Rail

Step 9-Staple Mesh to Posts and Bottom Rail.jpg

When you reach the bottom of the posts, nail the mesh to the bottom rail every 3 inches. 

Walk along the fence, installing the mesh in the same order as before: along the top rail, down the posts, and then along the bottom rail.  

When you reach the end of the roll, use fence pliers to trim the pieces of mesh that extend beyond the posts. 

Using the same method, nail the PVC-coated mesh to the bottom rail every 3 inches.

Fold the PVC-coated netting into the trench.

Backfill the trench with a mixture of soil and drainage rock.

▆ Step 10: Add the Cap Rail and Gate

Step 10-Add the Cap Rail and Gate.jpg

Once you have installed the mesh on the posts and rails, install a 1×6 top rail on the 2×4 top rail.

1×6's are positioned so that the joints between the boards are no higher than the joints on the 2×4.

Nail the top rail in place with 10d (3") nails. 

Alternatively, complete the posts by installing fence post caps. 

To complete the installation of the wire fence, follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the gate of your choice.

Alternatively, you can make your own fence gate. Build the frame for the gate and use nails to hold the mesh in front of the gate. Use shims to keep it level and vertical, then secure it to the gate posts with hinges and latches. 






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