How to Level Fence Posts On Uneven Ground

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fence built on a slope

Nowadays, the size of residential backyards has shrunk, and fences have become the focal point. Well-built fences are expensive, and it’s not uncommon for some ground to be more uneven than other parts.

Whether the fence you want to build is wood, vinyl, or some other material, it’s important to install posts at an angle that matches the slope of your garden beds, or they will be visible from one side and hidden on the other.

Here is a step by step process on how to level fence posts on uneven ground!

How to Build a Horizontal Fence on a Slope

  1. Pick a spot in your yard where you want to place your fence post and measure down from that point to where you would like it set (i.e., if the distance from postmark A is 17 ft. and you want post B at 16 ft., find a point on the ground between them to set your post – i.e., at 15’.)
  2. Dig down to the firmest layer of soil using your shovel or post-hole digger. If you hit rocks, shift over and dig until you hit a solid layer (usually around one ft. deep).
  3. Place a shovelful of soil in the bottom of your post hole and then level it out with your hands.
  4. Set the post into the hole using a boost or a board and then fill in with another shovelful of soil. Try to get as much soil underneath the bottom of your post as you can, as this will help it settle into place. If you are installing a corner post, ensure that it is seated squarely on the surface being dug out and not on one side or another, which could cause a lean.
  5. Pack dirt around the base of your fence post so that it settles into place. Fill the post hole and tamp the soil down with your hands.
  6. After you have packed the dirt firmly around the base of your fence post, wet it thoroughly with a hose and then fill in any remaining holes. If any water stands in your post hole, you have to start over again because it will cause your post to rot.
  7. Level out the ground around your fence post so that it is even on both sides. The best way to do this is by digging a trench from one end of your fence line to the other and then filling it in with soil from that trench. Simply dig out the high side of the ground and then spoon in some soil from the low side. Keep repeating this process until your ground is level. For curved areas, use a garden rake to treat the area well or pour a thin layer of concrete over it to fix it in place.
  8. Use your gauge to ensure that your fence post has now been leveled. This should be done on all sides of the post, but ensure most stringently that both ends are even so as not to cause any leaning when you build your fence panels up against them.
  9. Place a builder’s level on both sides of your fence post and adjust it until it is level using wedges. Make sure you check the top of the posts, too, and not just the bottom. This should be done for all posts involved.
  10. Use your post hole digger or your shovel to remove any excess dirt or grass that may have been left behind, leveling off the top of your fence post so that it is flush with the surrounding ground. If a fence post has been installed properly and is not leaning, you will see a shadow line running across it, which signifies where it is on an even plane with its surroundings.
  11. Use a hose to wet down your freshly installed fence posts so as to help them settle into place and begin taking on their shape. You should pack them with roughly 3” of soil when you do this.
  12. Fill in any remaining holes by digging straight down into the ground. Fill in around the fence post with a few shovelfuls of dirt and then tamp it down well to make sure that it has taken on its shape properly.
  13. Keep an eye on your fence posts to make sure they are level, paying close attention to the top of the posts as you work, which is usually most noticeable. If a post is leaning or is sinking into your yard, either way, re-adjust it using a builder’s level or grain binder (a ribbed steel sheet that can be screwed onto your post).
  14. You can easily tell if a post is leaning or not by setting a carpenter’s level at the top where it will sit, and that will give you clear results. You’re most likely to find a leaning post on your first fence row, as this is usually installed when the ground is still soft and easily manipulated.