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What is the Cheapest Fence to Build (With 4 Examples)

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Is your current fence looking ragged with warped or rotten pickets or leaning severely? If so, you’re probably contemplating what is the cheapest fence to build to replace your current fence. Materials and labor costs have gone through the roof lately, especially outdoor projects such as fences.

Thankfully, there are several fencing options to choose from that won’t break the bank. Whether you are trying to protect your garden from wildlife or corral your pets, there is an option that will fit your style.

If you learn how to build a fence yourself, you can save yourself a lot of money since labor is half the cost of a new fence.  In the end, you’ll have a fence that fits your personal style and provides privacy from neighbors and passersby. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider.

Chain Link Fencing

Chain link fencing is durable and budget friendly. but not the best for privacy. If you don’t have noisy neighbors to worry about or live on a busy street, a chain link fence is a great choice.  Price per linear foot can range from $9-18 which is much cheaper than the average wood privacy fence.

If you like the idea of a chain link fence for its durability, there’s a couple of things you can do to improve the privacy aspect. Both methods can be used for a new or existing chain link fence.

The cheapest method to add privacy is plant star jasmine vines around the fence in different sections. This fast growing vine will cover the entire fence in short time to give you ample privacy. Bonus to this method is the blooms in the Spring to Summer. The lovely fragrance will make you smile every time you smell it.

The second way to enhance your chain link fence privacy is for an existing fence. Essentially it involves removing the wire mesh and the top rail of the chain link fence.

This leaves only the metal posts. Each post can be outfitted with a special bracket that allows for a wood rail to be installed. When these are attached, wood boards can then be attached vertically to create a wood privacy fence.

The range of wood choices is very broad including pine, cedar, cypress, other hardwoods and tropical woods, just to name a few. We discuss how long a wooden fence lasts with each of the options above.

Your cheapest option will be pressure treated pine and the best part is you won’t have to dig any fence posts!

Recycled Corrugated Metal Fencing

A different option for a fence is to create it with metal panels. If you get the metal panels from a second hand store or facebook marketplace, then the price is very reasonable. Even better if you’re tearing down something that had metal panels as a roof.

This might be a good option if you want an easy fence to install yourself. Simply install the metal panels directly to the wood posts. No need to install rails or pickets to the rails.

The metal panels are great for privacy as well as durable and lost lasting compared to wood. When you are finished, you will have a fence that provides another textural element to your backyard and an attractive addition to your outdoor space.

Split Rail Fencing

If your home is in the country or you just appreciate a more pastoral feel, split rail fencing is always an economical option. This type of fencing requires wood logs that have been split and used as rails, hence the name split rail fence.

Slots are bored into the sides of the wood posts. The last 6-12 inches of the rail ends are tapered to half their width, then inserted into the wood post slots.  Each side of the rail end will be wedged into the post hole to create a secure fence rail, as shown in the pic above.

Materials for this type of fencing can be purchased at a local lumber yard or if you are feeling adventurous, you can split the logs yourself. 

While splitting the logs on your own is more work, it allows you to create the specific look that you want.

Pallet Fence

A pallet fence is a low-cost option for a fence.  If you have a source for free pallets, it’s a quick and easy option with not a lot of time to set up.

Pallets are placed vertically with a post driven down through the pallet boards into the ground. This will keep the fence from moving and upright.  You can use screws to hold the fence more securely.

There are several ways to make a pallet fence look attractive, such as painting. Another easy option is to hang potted plants from the slats or secure vibrant buckets to the pallets that are filled with colorful seasonal flowering plants.

The end result is an attractive space that will add color and texture to your backyard area. This also gives you the option to swap out plants throughout the seasons so that your backyard is always inviting.

Hedges

This is a bonus idea that can help create a private backyard in a more natural way. While you may not have considered hedges as fences, they provide plenty of privacy if that is your main focus. They are also a beautiful addition to your backyard.

As ecologically beneficial as they are, they are also cost effective, especially if you buy smaller fast growing versions vs full grown.

It also creates an environment for birds, squirrels and helpful insects. As long as you don’t need a fence to keep pets in the backyard, hedges deliver many positives.

Before heading to the nearest nursery to buy plants, spend some time researching the types of hedge plants that grow well in your area. Climate can affect the hedges throughout the year.

For instance, how tall will it grow?  Is it evergreen or deciduous? How much spacing is needed for each plant?  How fast does it grow?  You’ll also need to factor in the pruning work that the hedge may need.

Some of the hedge plants that you can consider include holly, hawthorn, barberry, hemlock. privet, yew, boxwood and honey locust. Your local nursery can give you advice on the best hedge plants for the local area.

While you can purchase these plants at the local nursery, it you have the time, you can propagate them from cuttings.  This approach takes much more time but can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Another area to research is the old art of hedge laying.  If you have the time, these techniques involve bending branches and intertwining them so that the hedge will be full and thick.

In the olden days, this was used to create strong barriers that could be used to confine livestock.  While not always necessary, these proven techniques do help hedges become strong and thick.

Conclusion

Fencing does not have to be a difficult or expensive proposition.  Spending time to research options will help you choose the right fencing option for your needs.

Be sure to check out our article where we go into specifics of how much a fence costs with 5 examples.

If you are willing and able to devote a little elbow grease to the project, you can save a lot of money.  If you need help with installing fence post, we discuss all the details involved which will give you a sense of how much work building a fence will be.

Whether the goal is keeping rabbits and deer out of the garden or providing a safe space for children to play, there is a fencing option that is right for your budget. All it takes is a little thought and planning to create the space that you and your family need.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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3 Comments

    1. Hi Sage and thanks for the comment. If it was my backyard, I would plant some jasmine vine all around to let it grow on the chain-link fence. Not only will it smell wonderful in the spring, it will create a lot of privacy and add some height as well once the vine is established. Privacy slats will work to give you more privacy as well, just make sure the slats are made with durable materials that won’t crack and break down quickly.

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