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I have a 6 ft tall fence (standard home-store pickets) that was installed before the home was purchased.

A tree, that I assume was planted prior to the fence going up, has grown up through the fence line, so much so that it has pushed the panel in front of the tree off the fence line. I am replacing the pickets and rails due to age/rot.

To work around the tree, I was thinking of using a 4x4 instead of 2x4 for the rails, where I would notch the 4x4 down to 2x4 near the tree. The 4x4 width would be kept near the post to support jutting the fence inward from the normal fence line.

Is there anything I should be concerned with structurally with such an approach?

The tree is primarily in the neighbor's property, so cutting it would not be an option. My concern with new posts is trying to bury such in an existing root structure.

Proposed solution

                XXXXXXXXXX
--------------   XXXXXXXX   -------------  (existing fence line)
             |     XXXX     |
             |______________|  (proposed solution)
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  • have you considered using angles other than 90 degrees? .... ─\/─ .... maybe only one post would be needed and the corners would not collect so much wind blown debris – jsotola Oct 6 '20 at 19:43
  • @jsotola I have. But in addition to the roots of the tree itself, I have shrubbery also planted in front of the fence. This shrubbery is close enough to the fence that I would either have to dig it up or lose it to the other side of the fence. Neither approach is desirable by my significant other. – Kenneth K. Oct 6 '20 at 20:03
  • consider notching the tree, altering the boundary line may come back to bite you later, but that's a question for "law" not "DIY" – Jasen Oct 7 '20 at 3:55
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Structurally, maybe. The weight will be twice as much (assuming two rails) on the same wood at the notch due to the larger lumber. This could result in more sagging or even breakage.

Some other ideas...

Add posts and route around the tree

            ______
___________|      |
___________|      |
           |______|
              | |
            __|_|_
           |      |_____
           |      |_____
           |______|

Space out the one panel

            ______
___________|      |_
___________|      | | <-- offset spacer block
           |______| |
                  |_|________________________
                  |__________________________  
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  • Your second option seems closest to what I'm thinking. I'm curious, however: Would that not put more rotational stress on the nails holding the spacer block to the post (assuming I'm correct in thinking that I would be nailing the same direction as your arrow)? – Kenneth K. Oct 6 '20 at 19:02
  • 1
    I was thinking a full-height vertical rail, which would eliminate such concerns. – isherwood Oct 6 '20 at 19:06
  • 3
    Also, screws. Always screws. Nails are the wooden pegs of the 21st century. :) – isherwood Oct 6 '20 at 19:06

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