Homeowner's Guide: How To Lay Out And Dig The Posts For A Vinyl Fence

If you are going install a vinyl fence this spring in your backyard so your children and pets can run around and play in private, the first thing you have to do is lay out and dig the post holes for the fence. Here is how you can layout and dig the post holes for your vinyl fence.

Batter Boards

You should make 6 batter board sets before you start to lay out the fence. A batter board is made by taking three pieces of wood of equal length and nailing one piece to the top of the two other pieces. A batter board looks like a staple when done correctly. The batter boards keep the layout string off of the ground and help to make sure the fence lines will be straight and the corners will be square. The pieces of the batter board only need to be about 10-12 inches long.

First Post

The first fence post is typically placed up against the house. You want the space between the house and the fence post to be small enough that a young child or small pet can't fit through it and escape the backyard. Make a mark with spray paint about 6 inches away from the house – this is where the first post will go. Place one of the batter boards over the spray painted mark. The batter board should be parallel to the house. Tie your layout string to the wooden crossbar on the batter board.

Lay Out Fence Line

Measure out how long the side of the fence will be from the first batter board to the first corner in the fence. Mark on the lawn with spray paint the ending point of the first side of the fence. Place the second batter board over the mark so it is running parallel with the batter board up against the house. Tie the layout string to the second batter board and make it tight so it is taut and off of the ground.

Place the third batter board right next to the second one. The third batter board should be perpendicular to the second one. Measure the length of the back wall of the fence and place the fourth batter board over the mark for the second corner of the fence. Tie the layout string to the third and fourth batter boards. Set the fifth batter board so it's perpendicular to the fourth one and place a batter board at the spot where the fence line will end – usually up against the back side of a garage or other fence. Run the string between the fifth and sixth batter boards.

You want to make sure the fence line is straight. You should use a long carpenter's level to check the layout line. There is a glass enclosed bubble in the center of the level that you can use to tell if the layout is running in a straight line. Place the carpenter's level about halfway along the string between each batter board. Check the center bubble on the level. You want to make sure the bubble is exactly between the two black lines on the glass. If the bubble is too far to one side in the glass, slide the string over on the batter board crossbar until the bubble moves into the center of the glass and away from the black lines.

Digging Posts

Check the fence manufacturer's guidelines for how far apart the fence posts should be for the style of fence you are building. Measure the distance between the posts along the layout string and mark on the ground where each post will go with spray paint. Make sure the mark is set right along the string to keep the posts (and panels) even with each other.

Take a post digger and dig each hole down about half a foot or so below the frost line. Make sure all the holes are the same depth or the top of the posts will be uneven with each other when you get done. You should also dig the hole so it is about three times larger than the circumference of the fence post. This is so you have room to pour in the cement to hold the post in place.

Once all the posts have been marked and dug out, you will be ready to install the fence posts and panels. If you'd rather leave this kind of work to professionals, contact a company like Paradise Fencing.