How to Fence a Yard on an Extreme Budget

A home with a white picket fence may be a long-term dream, but several short-term solutions provide functional, inexpensive fencing.

A home with a white picket fence may be a long-term dream, but several short-term solutions provide functional, inexpensive fencing.

Fencing can be a major expense, easily running into the thousands of dollars for even a small yard. For new homeowners, a fenced yard is often at the top of the wishlist, but is frequently postponed due to finances. With a bit of work and some readily available landscaping items, however, you can put in an inexpensive short-term fence while you're saving for a more permanent installation.

Determine the type of fencing material you'll need based on the purpose of your fence. Safety fencing works for temporarily defining boundaries and keeping children or small animals out of your yard, but the bright colors rule it out for longer-term use. Deer fencing will keep animals out and small pets in, and it blends into the background to become almost invisible from a distance. It also is generally the most economically priced option. Poultry netting or welded wire provide more security for keeping children or larger dogs inside the yard, but they are more expensive.

Plan your fenced area. If possible, include existing trees to use as fence posts. Calculate the length of fencing material you'll need and the number of posts, allowing for 6 to 8 feet between posts or as otherwise recommended for the specific fencing material. Determine where to put the gate, if any, and the width of the opening you'll need to get lawn mowers, tables and chairs, or other outdoor equipment into or out of the yard.

Install your posts. Use a string, if necessary, between the posts to keep them in a straight line. For a boundary fence, use wood or bamboo garden stakes for inexpensive fence posts. Fences that may have children or animals jumping or climbing on them need sturdier posts, such as steel "T" or "U" posts.

Attach the fencing material to the posts. Use fencing staples to attach fencing to wood posts or trees, and cable ties to attach to stakes or steel posts. Secure the fencing material in at least three spots on the post: top, middle and bottom; for fences taller than 4 feet, use four to five spots. Keep even tension on the fencing material as you attach it to ensure the fence doesn't sag at the top. On tall fences, you might need to run a wire across the top to keep the fence from sagging.

Building A Gate

Determine the size of your gate based on the height of the fence and the width you'll need. Use pieces of 2 x 4 lumber to create the gate frame. Depending on the size of the gate and the fencing material, use a "Z" shaped frame, a rectangle or a rectangle with one or two diagonal supports. Attach the gate with the hardware kit. The posts on either side of the gate should be extra-secure, to keep them from moving when the gate is opened or closed.

Lay out the lumber pieces for your gate. Secure them together with heavy-duty wood screws, two for each connection.

Attach fencing material to the gate frame using fencing staples. Keep the material taut within the frame. Install the gate hardware as appropriate.

Attach the gate to the fence with the remainder of the hardware kit. The fence posts on either side of the gate should be securely embedded in the ground to keep them from moving or loosening when the gate is opened or closed.

Items you will need

  • Fencing material, such as deer fence, safety fence, or chicken wire
  • Posts or stakes
  • Cable ties
  • Fencing staples
  • Staple gun
  • Gate hardware kit
  • 2 x 4 lumber pieces, cut to length


  • An even less expensive alternative is a fence made from fallen twigs and branches. These fences typically cannot be built very high, and some city ordinances or homeowners associations may not allow them.
  • If your fence is intended to keep critters out of your yard, leave 6 inches of fencing at the bottom, bent to the outside of the yard, and secure with ground stakes. To keep pets in the yard, bend the fencing to the inside and secure.


  • Call 811 before putting up your fence to ensure you won't risk interfering with any utility lines.
  • Check your local ordinances and homeowners association rules for fencing regulations. A permit may be necessary, and some materials might be prohibited.

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