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Building a Fence on a Slope: Options For Your Property

September 30, 2020

If your property is on a slope, building a fence may seem like a complex project. No need to worry, though. There are great options for practical, stylish fences that can work for sloped properties.

Different factors will determine what fence is the best option for you. Things like the steepness of the slope and your style preferences are all important considerations.

Here’s some more information on different slope fence style options to help you with your decision.

Retaining Walls

If your fence is along uneven terrain, a good option may be a fence with an integrated retaining wall. A retaining wall is used to keep soil back if there’s a difference in height between yards, or other cases of uneven terrain. Retaining walls typically range from one to three feet in height. Three feet tall is the maximum height in most areas in California. Anything taller will usually require additional engineering, plans, and permits.


Almost any fence type can be built on top of a retaining wall design. Note that a retaining wall is different from a kickboard. A kickboard is designed to protect pickets of any fence from contact with the ground, not to keep soil back, and isn’t strong enough to do so. You can learn more about kickboards here.

Retaining walls can be built from different materials, such as wood, concrete or masonry.


Flat Height

Sloped properties can accommodate flat top fences. If the slope is not severe, then a "traditional" flat top fence can be built, using a retaining wall to ensure the fence is stable on the uneven terrain.

In some cases, this style may require extra materials like longer pickets.

Stepped Height 

The stepped height fence is named so because the fence looks like a set of stair steps. It gradually steps up or down the slope of the property. The top of the fence is “level” and attached perpendicularly to the fence post. When building a stepped fence, the posts on the slope need to be longer in some areas to accommodate the extra height of the fence panel. This is a good option for properties with a more severe slope grade. 

If you build a nail up fence, you can extend the pickets down to be flush with the ground. In the case of picture frame construction, it will create a small gap, which is why a kick board is recommended (either for aesthetic reasons or practical concerns over small pets or children escaping.) If a kickboard is added, it will also need to be cut to follow the slope of the ground.

Stepped height fence using horizontal pickets

Sloped Height


The sloped height fence moves with the curvature and contour of the terrain. For this style of fence, the top of the fence is built at the same sloping angle of the ground. For this reason, sloped height fences are more labor-intensive. The fence can be built to be flush with the terrain by extending the pickets down to the ground. However, kickboards along the base of the fence may still be needed, depending on the slope grade.


Fence installation can be a difficult task in any situation, especially without the proper equipment and expertise. This is even more true for fences built on sloped property. Our team has built different style fences on properties with all types of slope and terrain. You can check out more of our work here.


Ready to get started? If you live in the Bay Area, Sacramento or Fresno, click the link below to request a free quote for your project. We are licensed and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

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