Should Fence Pickets Touch the Ground?

While your posts and rot boards (if you choose to use them) should have contact with the ground, it’s important to keep the pickets elevated. This prevents a number of potential issues, such as moisture damage, rotting, and insect infestation. Wood pickets are simply not designed to withstand constant contact with the ground, and installing them directly on the ground can significantly reduce the lifespan and durability of your fence. By ensuring that your pickets are raised at least two inches off the ground, you can help protect your fence from these potential problems and ensure a longer-lasting and more secure fencing solution.

How High Off the Ground Should a Fence Picket Be?

When it comes to installing a fence, one common question that arises is how high off the ground should a fence picket be? There are different opinions on this matter, but a general rule of thumb is to have the bottom of the pickets elevated a few inches above the ground. This ensures that the pickets aren’t in direct contact with the soil, which can lead to moisture retention and potential rotting over time.

To begin with, it’s essential to set the first post securely in the ground. This involves digging a hole that’s deep enough to accommodate the post and provide stability. The depth of the hole will depend on various factors such as the height of the fence and local building codes. Once the hole is dug, the post should be placed in it and adjusted to the desired height.

If the post has mortises, these should be taken into consideration when determining the height of the pickets. This elevation allows for proper drainage and prevents water from seeping into the wood, which could lead to decay and structural damage over time.

To ensure the post is plumb, meaning perfectly vertical, a level should be used. The level should be held against two adjacent sides of the post to check for any deviations. Adjustments can be made as necessary, ensuring that the post is straight and aligned correctly.

By elevating the bottom of the pickets a few inches above the ground, you can prevent moisture retention, rotting, and potential damage to the wood. This can be achieved by setting the first post at the desired height, adding soil to secure it, and checking the posts alignment with a level. Taking these steps will ensure a sturdy and durable fence that will last for years to come.

How to Choose the Appropriate Height for a Fence Based on the Purpose (Privacy, Security, Aesthetic)

  • Consider the purpose of the fence: privacy, security, or aesthetic.
  • For privacy, choose a fence height that will block the view from neighboring properties or streets.
  • For security, opt for a taller fence that will deter trespassers and provide a sense of protection.
  • When prioritizing aesthetics, balance the height of the fence with the overall look of your property.
  • Take into account any local regulations or homeowner association rules regarding fence height.
  • If unsure, consult with a professional fencing contractor for expert advice on choosing the appropriate height.

When determining the height of fence pickets above the top rail, it’s important to maintain consistency with the usual placement of the top, bottom, and middle rails. Generally, the top rail is positioned around 7-8″ from the top of the fence, while the bottom rail rests at a similar distance above the grade. For optimal results, it’s advisable to ensure that the middle rail is evenly spaced between the top and bottom rails, without deviating further from either end. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a uniform and aesthetically pleasing fence design.

How High Should Fence Pickets Be Above Top Rail?

When it comes to installing a fence, one of the common questions that arises is how high the fence pickets should be above the top rail. Generally, the top rail is placed around 7-8 inches from the top of the fence. This measurement allows for a balanced and aesthetically pleasing appearance without compromising the functionality of the fence.

Similarly, the bottom rail is typically placed at a distance of 7-8 inches from the grade. This ensures that the fence is properly grounded and provides stability to the structure. Placing the bottom rail too high may result in gaps at the bottom of the fence, allowing small animals or debris to pass through. On the other hand, if the bottom rail is too close to the ground, it may be prone to rotting or damage from moisture.

To maintain uniformity and structural integrity, the middle rail is typically positioned evenly between the top and bottom rails. By spacing the rails evenly, the fence pickets are properly supported and secured in place, preventing sagging or bending over time.

It’s important to note that deviating from the recommended distances for the top, bottom, and middle rails may compromise the effectiveness of the fence.

By following these guidelines, you can achieve a structurally sound and visually appealing fence that serves it’s purpose effectively.

Tips for Maintaining and Repairing a Fence to Ensure It’s Longevity

  • Inspect your fence regularly for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Trim any vegetation near the fence to prevent it from growing into the structure.
  • Clean the fence periodically to remove dirt, mold, or mildew.
  • Check for loose nails or screws and tighten them as needed.
  • Replace any broken or damaged boards promptly.
  • Apply a protective stain or sealant to prevent rot and moisture damage.
  • Remove any accumulated debris or leaves that can cause decay.
  • Ensure the gate is properly aligned and functions smoothly.
  • Consider installing a fence cap or protective barrier on top to prevent water damage.
  • Inspect the fence’s foundation for stability and reinforce if necessary.
  • Keep pets away from the fence to prevent scratching or chewing.
  • During winter, remove snow or ice buildup to avoid excessive weight.
  • Repair any damage caused by severe weather conditions promptly.
  • Consult a professional for complex repairs or if unsure about the best approach.

Source: How do I install the rails for a solid wood fence?

Additionally, leaving a gap between the fence and the ground can prevent water from pooling or accumulating beneath the fence, which can lead to rotting or damage over time. This small space can also act as a barrier for small animals or critters, preventing them from burrowing under the fence and entering your yard. Overall, considering these practical benefits, leaving a gap between the fence and the ground can be a wise decision for both easy maintenance and protecting your fence from potential damage.

Should You Leave a Gap Between Fence and Ground?

When it comes to fence installation, one question that often arises is whether or not fence pickets should touch the ground. While some may argue for a tight fit, there are compelling reasons to consider leaving a small gap between the fence and the ground.

First and foremost, having a gap allows for easy maintenance. Leaves, debris, and other unwanted items tend to accumulate along the bottom of a fence. By leaving a gap, you create a space that can be easily cleaned up, preventing a buildup of dirt and helping to maintain the overall appearance of your fence.

Moisture is a common enemy of wooden fences, as it can promote rot and decay.

Of course, it’s important to find a balance. Small animals may be able to squeeze through, and larger gaps could create a visibility issue. It’s best to consult with a fence installation professional to determine the ideal size of the gap for your specific needs.


Ultimately, following this guideline can contribute to the overall durability and aesthetics of your fence, ensuring it’s functionality and appeal for years to come.

Please watch this video on YouTube:

Scroll to Top