Best Fences for Sloped Yards

Wide view of a metal fence surrounding a steep lawn with dropoff

Installing a fence on a sloped yard is a little trickier than building a fence on level ground. It takes a little more strategy, and you need to know the best materials to use. Before installing one on your uneven terrain, know the best fences for sloped yards.

Landscaping can be difficult, while drainage and general safety are problems to consider. Thankfully, fencing a sloped yard controls erosion and prevents runoff damage, but the challenge is building the right fence without breaking the bank.

So what are the best fences for sloped yards? We’ll help you with fence ideas and determine which type of fence is best for you and your lawn.

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In this article, we’ll cover:

What are the Best Fencing Methods for Sloped Yards?

Racked Fence

Racked fence illustration
Illustration credit: Juan Rodriguez

A racked fence follows the contour of the land and does not leave any gaps. The rails are matched to the ground’s slope and follow the slope of the yard, while the fence’s posts and pickets are installed a little lower than the one before to create a smooth flow with the ground.

Racked fencing often comes in prefabricated PVC or aluminum panels. If you prefer a racked fence made out of wood, steel, or iron, you will need to have it custom-built.

Straight Fence

Straight fence illustration
Illustration credit: Juan Rodriguez

One solution is to simply install a fence like you would if the ground was flat, ignoring the slope entirely. For yards with only a subtle incline, this method works just fine. However, if you’re installing on a steep slope, there will be large gaps that pets or children could squeeze under, negating the reason for a fence in the first place.

Stepped Fence

Stepped fence illustration
Illustration credit: Juan Rodriguez

A stepped fence goes down a hill in a series of steps, with every section of the fence accommodating the slope. Each section is higher or lower than the section adjoining it so that the fence resembles a staircase. Stepped fences have the same gap problem as straight fences, but this can be solved with raised planters, as the gaps aren’t as noticeable.

What are the Best Fencing Materials for Sloped Yards?

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Wood

Wooden fence in a field
Photo Credit: Melissa Fague / PI Photography and Fine Art / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Wood fencing styles like the privacy fence or picket fence can be adapted for a slope, especially if pickets are installed with space between them. If you’re not concerned about privacy, then post-and-rail is particularly simple to adjust to sloping land. Pickets may need to be attached to rails individually, but even spaced pickets will offer some privacy.

Aluminum

an aluminum fence in a lawn
Photo Credit: Hunter77 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

If you want a metal fence, aluminum fences work great with sloped yards without creating gaps in the fencing. The malleable quality of aluminum means it can be adjusted to different heights, and its lightweight, flexible nature makes it easy and convenient to work with.

Chain-link fence
Photo Credit: liebeslakritze / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Chain-link fencing is durable and lasts about 12 to 15 years. A heavy coat of galvanization or vinyl coating can ward off the risk of rust and corrosion. Since chain link fencing hangs from rails, it can be trimmed to follow the incline of a sloping yard.

Vinyl

vinyl fences in a garden
Photo Credit: Pixabay

You can step or slope your vinyl fence, but it should only be installed using the slope method going up or down with the changes in your elevation. For all other vinyl fence styles, keeping the top of your fence level generally takes more time to install and is costly since you’ll need custom-cut pickets, but the overall effect is more aesthetically appealing and avoids gaps – though some manufacturers do make diagonal panels specifically for slopes.

Masonry

Stone masonry fence
Photo Credit: Presse03 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

If you want a highly durable fence for your sloped yard, consider a stone or brick fence. They are available in several colors, designs, and styles so you can customize them to suit your property. However, it isn’t cheap, so it isn’t an ideal pick if you’re on a budget.

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Bamboo

Bamboo fence
Photo Credit: Pixy

Bamboo fences are lightweight, sustainable, and available in a variety of styles. They come in sheet rolls or prefabricated panels, so they have no issue forming to a sloped yard. Bamboo fences do require care and maintenance, since they will rot if they get drenched with water unless properly sealed.

Wrought Iron

White wrought iron fence
Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

Wrought iron fences have intricate details and medium gaps that make them perfect for all kinds of properties. In sloped yards, wrought iron fences are best installed as a stepped fence.

What to Consider When you Have a Sloped Yard

Is Leveling an Option?

If the slope isn’t extreme, grading or leveling out your yard may be the better option. It will make installing a fence much easier by making the land level, and will help with water drainage.

How Steep is the Slope?

Deciding on what style of fence will depend on the steepness of the slope. Racked fencing is installed one board at a time so it’s level with the ground, but can only accommodate up to a 12-inch rise every 6 feet.

Stepped fencing is installed with individual posts, with attached fence panels that increase in height with the grade of the yard so that each panel is level at the top, and is better for steep slopes.

Do You Care About Function or Form?

What is the function of your fence? Do you need to avoid gaps? If you think a pet will escape, then you should avoid stepped fencing.

But what if you prefer the look of racked fencing? If your slope is too steep for a racked fence, then you’ll need a stepped fence.

Tips for Fencing a Sloped Yard

Add a Retaining Wall

If your fence is along uneven terrain, you may want to add an integrated retaining wall. A retaining wall is used to keep soil back if there’s uneven terrain. They typically range from 1 to 3 feet tall and can be built from different materials, such as wood, concrete, or masonry.

Almost any fence type can be built on top of a retaining wall design. If you don’t like the gaps left in stepped and straight fence designs, then a retaining wall might be your solution.

Install Custom-Cut Pickets

If you’re willing to shell out more money for your fence, then you can use custom-cut pickets to fill in the low spots and gaps on uneven ground. Each picket is cut to match the slope, so rather than having all pickets be the same length, some will be longer or shorter as needed.

FAQ About the Best Fencing for Sloped Yards

How do you plan a fence on a slope?

Drive a 2-foot stake into the ground at the top of the slope. Put a second stake at the bottom of the slope. Run a level string between the two stakes. Measure equally spaced locations for the fence posts along the line. Mark those locations with tape.

Drop a plumb bob from the tape marks on the line to transfer the marks to the ground. Mark the spot with powdered chalk. Dig holes at the marked spots and install the posts. If the posts aren’t the exact height you want your fence to be, you can trim them.

What is the distance between fence posts?

Typical spacing is about 8 feet between each fence post. However, different slopes may call for different measurements.

Where should fence rails be placed?

Typically, the top rail is placed 7 to 8 inches from the top of the fence. The bottom rail is typically 7 to 8 inches from the ground. And the middle rail is placed even between the top and bottom rails.

When to Hire a Fencing Pro 

Why spend your free time measuring fence posts when you can hire an experienced and reliable pro instead? DIY fence installation is hot, back-breaking work, and that’s nothing compared to the headache you get figuring out property lines and permits!

If you’re looking for someone to take care of all your fencing needs, whether your yard is flat or sloped, we invite you to check out FenceGnome’s extensive list of fencing contractors available in your area.

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Main Photo Credit: BWFolsom / Canva Pro / License

Lydian Pine

Lydian Pine is a creative writer and studio artist whose work first debuted in a short story anthology. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 2020 and enjoys video games, theatre, and swimming. Lately, she has started to study entomology as a hobby.