Fence and gate construction

Before you start

 DIY fence

These plans will show you how to make a typical timber fence and gate for a suburban section. We envision that most people will use them only as a guide, rather than following them exactly. For example, you may want your fence to be taller than ours, or you may want to use a different sort of timber. This plan focuses on tips and suggestions which we hope will give you the confidence to attempt your own project.

Planning your fence

You need to decide how high you want your fence to be. Our plan is for a fence with a fairly typical height of 1.6m. This is about shoulder height for most people, so if you want a fence you can't easily see over you will need to increase the height to at least 1.8m.


The timber you will need can be divided into three categories:

Palings are the vertical boards typical of this kind of fence. They come in several sizes and our plan is based on a fairly standard 150mm wide paling, 1.6m long. The length of the paling will generally equal the height of the fence. Although you don''t want the palings sitting directly on the ground (or they may rot) you don't usually want much of a gap under them either.

Rails bridge the gap between the posts, and similar timber is used for the frame of the gate. Posts are typically placed up to 1.5m apart and the minimum size we recommend to bridge this sized span is 50mm by 75mm. You should think about what lengths you are buying as you can't join a railing between posts. 3m lengths are most suitable but 1.5m or 4.5m lengths will also work (assuming your posts are placed 1.5m apart).

The type of post you choose will depend on cost and the ''look'' you are after. Half or quarter round posts are usually relatively cheap but not often chosen for backyard applications. The most popular option in our experience is a 100mm by 75mm post. This is large enough to provide sufficient strength for a fence, while not outrageously expensive. The square look is also preferred by most urban landscapers.