Build Your Dream Fence with These Simple Wood Designs

Imagine looking out over your backyard and seeing a classic, beautiful wood fence that provides privacy and complements your landscaping. With simple wood fence designs, you can transform your outdoor space while keeping costs down. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of basic wood fences, popular styles to consider, materials to use, and step-by-step installation tips.

Simple Wood Fence Design Benefits

While ornamental metal and vinyl fences have their place, you just can’t beat the natural charm and timelessness of a simple wood privacy fence. Here are some of the reasons a basic wood fence may be the perfect choice for your home.


The clean lines and neutral hues of wood blend seamlessly into any yard or garden. Wood has a subtle grain and variation that vinyl and metal lack, giving it more character and natural beauty. Unpainted wood develops a lovely silvery-gray patina over time. Or you can customize the look with stains and paint colors to complement your home.

Simple wood fence designs rely on the inherent good looks of quality wood, without added frills and ornamentation. The result is an unfussy, classic fence style that fitswell with homes of any era.


While exotic hardwoods can be pricey, common woods like cedar and pine are relatively affordable fencing materials. The straightforward construction of most simple wood fence designs also helps keep labor costs down compared to more complex fences.

simple wood fence designs

And for the ultimate budget-friendly option, you can save even more by installing a basic wood privacy fence yourself. With the right planning and tools, an DIY wood fence installation is totally achievable for the dedicated do-it-yourselfer.


Wood may not seem as inherently durable as metal, but when the right rot-resistant species are used and properly maintained, a wood fence can last upwards of 30 years. The key is using naturally decay-resistant woods or pressure-treated lumber rated for ground contact.

Following basic construction guidelines for spacing, hole depth, and securing fence components will also boost durability. A simple wood fence won’t succumb to warping and sagging like a poorly built one. Regular upkeep by cleaning and sealing the wood will keep it looking its best year after year.

Popular Simple Wood Fence Styles

Now that you know the benefits of simple wood fencing, let’s look at some of the most popular basic designs perfect for DIY installation. You’re sure to find a look that suits your landscape’s style.

Privacy Fence

This quintessential backyard fence uses closely-spaced slats to block views and provide seclusion. The most common privacy fence design consists of 1×4 or 1×6 boards nailed to horizontal stringers. The slats are placed alternating sides for maximum privacy while still allowing air flow.

Cedar and redwood are preferred woods because they resist warping that widens gaps. A privacy fence along a property line blocks views of and from neighboring lots. They also help hide pool and patio areas from surrounding homes.

Picket Fence

No fence evokes images of tidy suburbs like a classic white picket fence. The signature look is achieved by placing tall, narrow pickets between horizontal rails. Pointed tops on the pickets add a decorative touch.

While historically whitewashed, modern picket fences can be painted or stained any color. Their petite scale and welcoming aura make them ideal fences to define front yards and property lines. A low picket fence can even surround a flower or vegetable garden.

Ranch Rail Fence

Also called split rail fences, ranch-style designs pay homage to old West cattle ranches. Usually built from raw, unfinished logs or lumber, they have a rustic vibe perfect for rural properties today.

Traditional ranch rail fences use round wood posts with horizontal rails stacked between them. For a more budget-friendly option, square-cut posts with notched rails work too. This style is ideal when you need fencing that allows visibility and airflow, like enclosing horses or livestock.

Key Materials for Simple Wood Fences

The wood you construct your fence from plays a key role in its aesthetics, performance, and longevity. Let’s compare some top choices for simple wood fence designs to help you pick the right material.


Western red cedar is naturally resistant to rot, making it a standout choice for wood fencing. Its reddish-brown color darkens over time to an attractive silver-gray if left unfinished. Lightweight and easy to work with, cedar has moderate strength and hardness.

Keep in mind that cedar fencing does require regular cleaning and sealing to protect it from moisture damage. Cedar has high natural oil content that improves weather-resistance but costs more than pressure-treated pine. Overall, cedar offers beauty, longevity, and reasonable cost.


For a more affordably priced softwood lumber option, pine is readily available and versatile. Pine has lower density than cedar, which makes it very easy to cut, screw, and paint. Pressure-treated pine resists insects and decay when used for outdoor projects like fencing.

Pine does require frequent repainting or staining to prevent moisture damage on the surface. But with proper finishing and maintenance, pine makes a great choice for budget-friendly wood privacy fences. For a long-lasting fence, use thicker 1-inch boards instead of thinner stock.


Redwood fences offer beauty and durability on par with cedar. Redwood contains tannins, resin, and essential oil that make it naturally decay-resistant. Redwood boards exhibit lovely reddish-pink coloration and tight grain lines for a top-notch aesthetic.

High demand for durable redwood lumber keeps costs relatively high. Availability is limited as well, since most original redwood forests are protected now. But if you can afford it, a redwood fence will last for decades with practically no rot or pest damage to mar its good looks.

Step-by-Step Construction Process

Now let’s dive into the installation process for building your own simple wood fence. Having the right techniques and order of operations will ensure your fence looks as good as the pros and stands the test of time.

Planning and Layout

Careful planning is crucial when installing any fence. Start by measuring the perimeter you want your fence to span. Account for slopes and terrain quirks that may impact your layout.

Next, mark the planned locations for every fence post by staking the ground. Follow all relevant zoning laws and codes for your municipality, including height limits and required setbacks from property lines.

Installing Posts

Dig holes for each fence post, spacing them equidistantly based on your fence design. For example, privacy fences may require posts every 8 feet. Holes should extend below the frost line and be flared at the bottom to prevent frost upheaval.

Set 4×4 posts in the holes and hold them plumb. Fill the holes with concrete to encase the posts for maximum stability. Let the concrete fully cure before attaching fence boards.

Attaching Rails

Most basic wood fences include horizontal rails spanning between the posts. These provide attachment points for pickets or panels. Run string lines between posts to ensure your rails stay perfectly straight and level.

Predrill holes in the posts and rails to prevent splitting, using galvanized screws or nails. Allow slight gaps between rail ends at the posts so the wood can expand and contract without buckling.

Adding Pickets

If building a picket fence, cut and install vertical pickets between the rails. For privacy fences, nail or screw vertical 1×4 or 1×6 boards flush against the rails. Be sure to alternate boards on opposite sides.

Leave small gaps between boards–1/4 inch for pine or cedar and 1/2 inch for redwood. The wood will swell during wet weather. Proper spacing prevents buckling while retaining privacy.

Finishing Touches

Sand any rough edges on your simple wood fence and apply desired stain, paint, or protective sealant. Fence panels intended for ground contact should be rated for such exposure. Install any gates, caps, or decorative hardware.

Maintain your new wood fence by cleaning it annually before applying fresh sealant/stain. Spot treat any damaged pickets immediately to prevent further wood decay. Your basic wood fence will continue looking great for 30 years or more!

As you can see, a simple wood privacy fence offers beauty, versatility, and lasting performance without breaking the bank. Choose rot-resistant cedar or redwood boards for the greatest durability.

Styles like alternating board privacy fences, classic pickets, and ranch rail designs provide both form and function. For best results, follow proper planning, layout, and construction techniques when installing your fence.

Soon you’ll be enjoying increased privacy, added beauty, and greater property value thanks to a quality wood fence made the simple way. Don’t wait to start planning your perfect simple wood fence design today!

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