I am replacing my neighbors low, 4' tall fence on the side of my yard with a new wooden fence.

I like horizontal fences.

I am going to put the horizontal fence boards between the posts. The span of this fence is 24'. The ground drops away 4' between the bottom of the front fence post and the bottom of the rear fence post.

In the rear, this fence joins a 7' tall gate and fence with 8' tall posts. When joined these fences will make an L shape. See the attached diagram.

I want to use a pleasing design for this fence. I want to make a friendly space and I am unsure which design looks good and importantly won't create a weird or imposing perspective in this smallish sloped and angled space.

The space between the driveway and fence will have landscaping.

Building this is not that difficult, so this may be a bad question. The slope with the taller rear fence makes me wonder what works aesthetically here. I am considering three fence design options.

My question is what looks best when you build a horizontal fence on a slope? Once you have done this five or ten times, what do you learn? What looks right in a space like this?

All advice will be appreciated.

Which style of fence?

This an inexpensive house from the 80's. They are now adding million dollar homes to the area. Ours is a little too expensive to tear-down, so we have spiffed it up considerably, just adding new siding. There is more to go.

A new front entry and over garage lights are high on the list.

EDIT: Well, the city won't let me build a fence within 20 feet of the street, at the front of my house. I sounds like, if they approve the plans they would allow me to build a 3'6" fence. Neither of these enable me to cover the neighbor's chain-link fence.

EDIT: I did build a gate and small fence. I will use cedar to extending the fence into the backyard. The design will probably be a combination of the bottom sloping design in Option 1, and the stair-step top in Option 3.

EDIT: Here's what I built, the top and landscaping are not finished.

gate and fence

Here is a photo of the front, not exactly showing the area. The old fence and house color is to the left in these photos (my finger too :-), you can see a couple boards and get an idea of where this will go.

House House; gate, fence to be on the right side

  • 5
    Warning: your city/town code almost certainly places limits on the height of fences that are near or on property lines. And, if you do put up a fence, make SURE that the whole fence is on your property. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 1:29
  • I haven't done this 5 or 10 times, so this is just opinion, but I'd do option 3 with a tapered 2x material (PT, because of ground contact) in lieu of terracing. (You'll have to join something big like a 2x12 to a 2x6 to get the full taper, but you can use that to your advantage by putting the 2x6 on the bottom and not cutting into it.) Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 13:31
  • The convention with horizontal fence is to go with option 3. Vertical posts would follow the contour of the slope better, Shorten the panel span if you want it a little more adapted to the slope
    – Hightower
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 6:53

2 Answers 2


I have only done this once, in my own backyard, but I am also in the business of aesthetics, so I thought I would chime in. In my situation we went with option #2.

I would not recommend option #3, due to purely aesthetic reasons, unless you would like to keep the fence low all the way down for some reason (light, neighbors wishes, view). Having the gate suddenly jump up by 4' at the end would be quite strange looking, in my opinion.

If you go with option #2 the fence will be high in the back corner, which will allow for taller plants and more landscaping options, and will just look better in general. You get the same effect with option #1, however, it is more of a pain to do all the cuts necessary to slope the bottom, which after a little bit of growth from the landscaping you will never see. It would really be a pointless detail. In my experience, once we got building we were very happy that we had decided against doing that very thing- it's enough work already! And after just a couple months of growth the bottom of the fence was totally obscured anyway.

I wonder if your house is a mid century style? Horizontal fences always look great with this style of house- I also prefer them over vertical for almost everything. I wish I could send you a pic, but I don't live in the house anymore and am renting it out. Anyway, I hope my two cents helps you decide!

  • Ah yes aesthetics, that is what I need help with! But whoops cannot add a photo here. I will put it in the original question!
    – DavidC
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 18:37

I would go with Option 1. The others leave gaps that you don't want. Example, if you have a pet or get one, you would want that. It's a bit more work but in the long run, it's worth it.

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