How to Build a Split Rail Fence

Whether you want to add a rustic touch to your lawn or you want to keep your horses or cattle from getting out, a split rail fence is an easy, fun and cost-effective project that you can do on your own. Read the steps below and build a split rail fence in just a few hours.


Here's what to do:

  1. Measure the area you want to enclose. This can be done using a measuring tape, string and a few pencils. Walk around your property marking the perimeter with string. Measure the marked off area. Most split rails are 10 feet (304.8 centimeters) long, so divide your measurement by 10. Place pencils in the ground to mark where the posts will go [source: Nystrom].
  2. Take your measurements to the hardware store and see what wood best suits your purposes. Some experts suggest using cedar because it's the most weather resistant wood [source: Hoover]. Remember that precut posts and rails are easiest to work with.
  3. Cut your posts and rails to the right size. If you bought the precut variety, you can skip this step.
  4. Lay out the posts and rails at home, to check that your measurements were accurate.
  5. Dig deep holes in the ground, with a shovel or auger. This is where the posts will stand. Posts for split rail fences are usually placed 2 feet (61 centimeters) deep in the ground [source: Nystrom]. However you can adjust this based on how high you want your fence to be.
  6. Fill the extra space around the posts with sand, so the posts are secure and standing upright.
  7. Place the rails in the holes in the posts, starting with the bottom hole and working your way up. Move from post to post until your fence is complete.