When we started planning our fence, we had no idea how long it would take to build one. Here in Colorado, the ground freezes in mid-November, and we usually experience the first frost during the first week of October. As soon as we are back home from our separated trips, we started working.
Over the weekend, we decided on the fence plan, obtained the permit, and brought all the lumber home.
The new fence will be 6′ tall and made of cedar. We decided to run pickets horizontally, using a mixed 2″, 4″ and 6″ pickets, sort of like this:
Day 1: Demoing the southern chainlink and Setting up temporary fencing
The new fence on the south side will be built exactly where the old chain link is. So we started our first day of work by removing the chain link on this side.
Slav uncoupled the top rail from the vertical posts. These posts were set in concrete under the ground and had to be cut off below the ground.
To keep the two yards separated during the fence build, we ran a line of T-posts a few feet into our neighbor’s yard, and tied the chain link to the T-posts.
By pushing the chain link into our neighbor’s yard and keeping the front portion for now, we still have a fully fenced yard to work in.
The situation at the back corner is a bit complicated. Our existing chain link ran down into another neighbor’s yard, so removing the chain link and the wood panel here would expose our yard to the neighbor’s dogs.
Before removing the chain link fence at the back, we built a temporary wall with T posts and plywood to keep neighbor’s dogs out of our working area.
Look what we found during the demo:
Taking down the wood panel also gave us an opportunity to inspect the retaining wall below. Without proper care, the sleepers supporting the wooden panel were in rough shape.
We removed the sleepers and started to clean around the retaining wall. There are lots of leaves and trash accumulated here.
The most interesting found is this McDonald take-out box for burgers. It was used in the late 80’s and has two layers. It was designed to keep the burger patty and lettuce/tomato separated for ideal temperatures.
The retaining wall behind was in a pretty decent shape. But not so much for the posts of the wooden panel.
Slav cut the old posts off just above the ground. We will be burying new posts along this retaining wall for the new fence.
Day 2: Measuring for the new posts
It took us a solid day to demo and move the chain link. The next morning, Slav cut all the metal posts off their concrete support, and I worked on measuring for the new fence post locations.
I marked the location of the new posts with flags. Fortunately, none of the new posts overlap with the old ones, so we can just cover the old concrete and remaining metal posts with soil.
A string perpendicular to the house was used to determine the new front corner. It sits 18 feet from the back of the house, aligning with our neighbor’s fence (also our new ones) on the other side.
Day 3 and Day 4: Dig holes for concrete
After Marking the post location, we had two solid days of rain. Although it delayed our plan to dig holes for concrete, rain also helps with digging by making the ground softer. As soon as the rain stopped, we were anxious to dig the holes for the fence posts.
We will be using 8′ post, which need to be set in 2′ into the ground in concrete. We knew in advance that we have very compacted and rocky clay soil, so instead of digging by hand, we decided to rent a hydraulic auger to make the job easier. This auger can be paired with different sizes of drill head. We opted for 12″ bit for 12″ holes that are recommended for 4″ x 4″ posts.
Even with the help of the auger, it still took two of us a whole day to dig about 20 holes. Our soil is sooo solid and heavy. Every a few inches, Slav had to use a digging bar to break the soil for the auger to work. And when it was in action, Slav held it in place and I put all the weight on top of the bit.
A post digger was used to remove the soil. Slav cleaned up the bottom by scooping loose soil out with his hands.
We are building a 10′ drive gate in the front, with a 4′ walk gate next to the house. So on this side we only have two post holes.
The front fence on other side of the house has five posts. One post will be set next the foundation, and the last post will be right next to the neighbor’s corner post:
The ground slopes down significantly here. We will be doing step-down style here to keep the horizontal fencing look neat.
The entire South side consists 16 posts. We spaced them 5’10” on center so we can cut the dog ear portion off the 6′ cedar pickets.
We decided to use 4″ x 6″ post at the corners and for the gate to attach to. The next day, Slav manually enlarged the corner post holes (needs to be 18″ wide instead of 12″) and worked on a couple more that the auger could not reach. We are now ready for concrete!