A slanted fence doesn’t look too pretty in your yard. But what can you do about it? The good news is that you can fix this issue yourself with time, effort, and a trip to the home improvement store. We’ll go over how to fix a leaning fence, what supplies you’ll need, and the root causes of this problem.
A well-maintained fence is less likely to lean in the first place. Once you’ve solved the problem, keep up with regular maintenance to prevent the issue from happening again.
- Tools and Materials You’ll Need to Fix a Leaning Fence
- Step-By-Step Guide for Fixing a Leaning Fence
- Alternative Methods to Fix a Leaning Fence
- What Causes a Fence to Lean?
- When It’s Time to Fix Your Fence
- FAQ About Fixing a Leaning Fence
Tools and Materials You’ll Need to Fix a Leaning Fence
It’s time to go shopping or dig through your shed. Here’s everything you’ll need for our step-by-step guide on fixing your leaning fence. You may need more or fewer supplies based on the severity of the fence’s damage.
- Safety goggles: $2-$60
- Gloves: $4-$180
- Saw (if you need to cut any materials down to size): $6-$240
- Pliers: $10-$30
- Screwdriver: $2-$140
- Shovel, trowel, or demolition bar: $2-$247
- Brick trowel: $6-$75
- Braces to keep the fence upright (two-by-four pieces of wood will work well): $3-$15 per board
- Screws: $0.14-$0.50 per screw
- Nails: $0.20-$0.25 per nail
- New fence posts, pickets, panels, or rails (if needed): $2-$178 per replacement part
- Fast-setting concrete mix: $5-$27 per bag
Step-By-Step Guide for Fixing a Leaning Fence
To fix a leaning fence, you need to straighten out leaning posts. These steps should work for most leaning fences. If not, we’ll go over some alternative methods below. A severely damaged fence may need professional attention. Always wear safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself while you work.
Step 1: Assess the Situation
Figure out why the fence is leaning so you can prevent it in the future. A fencing pro could identify the issue if you don’t know what went wrong. Here are some reasons why a fence might lean:
- Loose fence posts
- Rotten wood
- Bent metal posts
- Cracked posts
- Insect damage
- Pressure from branches or other structures leaning against it
If your post has just shifted out of place, you can easily reset it. However, if your post is rotten, bent, cracked, or damaged by insects, you may need a brand new post.
Step 2: Contact Neighbors and Helpers
Confirm the fence is yours if it’s between two properties. Sometimes it’s obvious (like when you built the fence yourself), but other times it’s less clear. Talk to your neighbor, contact your local county recorder or assessor’s office, or check the transfer, title plan, or conveyance deed. If the fence belongs to both properties, you’ll need to discuss the repairs with your neighbor beforehand.
You also should ask your neighbor if you can access their side of the fence during the repair. It’s easier to fix a fence when you can repair it on both sides. However, you can still repair the fence from one side if your neighbor doesn’t give their blessing or there’s an obstacle in the way.
If you think you’ll need help, call a friend or family member. They can lift or hold materials for you while you work. No worries if you can’t find a helper; you can use two-by-four pieces of wood and brace them against the ground to keep things steady.
Step 3: Move Any Obstacles
Clear the space where the fence is leaning. This will let you get a good look at the issue and easily access the posts, panels, pickets, and rails you’ll be working on. You might need to tighten some loose screws to straighten things out, though it’s most likely the posts at fault.
Check for anything leaning or pushing against the fence, such as decor, branches, or tree roots. These objects could be causing the fence to tilt in the first place, so remove them if you can.
You also may need to detach parts of the fence to access the post or properly adjust it. For example, pickets and panels could hide the fence post from view, and rails might make it hard to maneuver the post.
Use your screwdriver and pliers to remove the screws and nails from wooden fences. For chain-link fences, remove the retaining clips and post caps. Set aside any pieces in good condition and make a note of any damaged parts you need to replace.
Step 4: Dig Around the Post
Now that the leaning posts are easily accessible, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Dig using a shovel, trowel, or demolition bar to expose the underground portion of the post. Don’t worry if you can’t access one side of the fence — just do your best. You’ll need a brand-new fence post if you see rotten wood or bent metal.
Dig until you see the concrete footing. If it’s missing or broken, that’s probably why your fence is leaning in the first place.
Step 5: Straighten Out the Fence Post
Once you can move the post around, use a level or a plumb bob to straighten it out. Brace the post with two-by-fours to keep it still when you’ve adjusted it to your liking. If the post is still attached to the adjacent panels, the two-by-fours you used to hold those up should be sufficient.
Double-check that your panels will be straight in this position. This step will ensure you’ve adjusted correctly and won’t have to do this again after the concrete sets.
Step 6: Backfill the Post Hole
Now’s the time to stabilize the fence pole. Pour and mix your fast-setting concrete in the hole, following the instructions on the bag. It will take about an hour for the concrete to dry, and you can reattach any fence parts you removed in about six hours after it dries to ensure stability. Pack the soil around the post hole or spread the extra elsewhere in your yard.
Pro tip: If you want to reduce rot or water damage, angle the new concrete away from the fence post so the water will run off it. Let the concrete set for a couple of minutes after pouring, then work with it while it’s still malleable using a brick trowel.
Step 7: Reassemble the Fence
When everything is dry and set, you can reattach fence parts if you removed them using nails or screws. Don’t do this before the concrete dries — they could shift the fence again. Take this opportunity to install new rails, panels, or pickets if the old ones are in bad shape.
Once you finish your repair, check your fence regularly for loose or damaged parts.
Alternative Methods to Fix a Leaning Fence
Sometimes the placement or construction of the fence causes issues when repairing. Here are some other ways you could straighten and reinforce a leaning fence.
- If there’s space between your post and the concrete footing, you can put a wedge between them. This wedge will make the post stop wiggling and keep everything upright.
- If you can’t access the other side of the fence, install a heavy-duty post repair bracket. These brackets have an L-shape above the ground, holes for screws, and a stake below. Dig around your side of the fence post, attach the top of the bracket to the post, then pour cement into the hole to set it.
- If you can’t access the other side of your fence and it doesn’t have solid concrete footings, install steel angles. Dig a hole on your side of the fence, attach the steel angles to the left and right corners using screws, then fill the hole with concrete.
- If the fence post is broken and you can’t replace it for whatever reason, insert stakes along each side of the post and attach them with screws. They should stabilize the post, but it may not be a long-term solution.
What Causes a Fence to Lean?
Both natural and unnatural causes can make fences slanted. The problem often depends on the type of fence you have. Here are some of the most common issues that cause leaning fences:
|Problem||Fence type(s) most affected|
|Rain and flooding||All fence types|
|Heavy snowdrifts||Privacy fences|
|Extreme temperatures||Primarily wooden fences|
|Strong winds||Privacy fences|
|Pressure from tree roots and branches||All fence types|
|Sloped terrain||All fence types|
|Warped or bent materials||Most fencing materials|
|Rotting posts||Natural materials like wood or bamboo|
|Pest damage (termites, carpenter ants)||Wooden and bamboo fences|
|Animal damage (dogs, livestock, wild animals)||All fence types|
|Poor installation||All fence types|
Often fences lean because of environmental factors, but you can still do something about it. Create a stronger concrete footing, weatherproof the fence, or switch to a fence type that’s less vulnerable to the issues you’ve faced.
When It’s Time to Fix Your Fence
Sometimes it’s tempting to procrastinate on fence repairs, especially if security isn’t a concern. However, waiting could make the problem much worse. One leaning post may eventually take down the rest of the fence. You may even need to spend more money to replace the entire fence. If you see leaning or any other issue, address it as soon as possible to save your future self a headache.
FAQ About Fixing a Leaning Fence
It depends on how extensive the damage is and how many supplies you need to purchase. It can cost anywhere from $13 to $1,207 to fix a leaning fence. The lower number covers the bare minimum for a minor fence repair (goggles, gloves, something to dig with, and the cement). The higher number represents an extensive repair with more tools and replacement parts.
What if you want a pro to handle it? A fence contractor could charge anywhere between $60 to $800 depending on how extensive the damage is. If you don’t have the tools, supplies, or experience to fix a leaning fence yourself, this could be a more cost-effective option, especially if the damage is severe. However, a simple repair may still be cheaper to do yourself.
It’s pricier to build a new fence, but sometimes you can’t avoid it. You should replace your fence instead of repairing it if more than 20% of it is damaged. Depending on the material, style, and size, a new fence can cost between $1,330 to $5,550.
You shouldn’t need to remove the fence post unless it’s rotten or broken. You just need to straighten it and reinforce the base of the post.
If the sagging isn’t caused by a loose fence post, the horizontal rail may need to be repaired. Tighten loose screws or replace them with better-quality outdoor screws. Replace rotted, cracked, or insect-damaged rails.
When to Hire a Pro
Proper installation and repairs both put a stop to leaning fences. However, your fence could become more crooked or damaged if you’re not careful, costing you more money in the long run. Imagine if the fence post tilted again while the concrete hardened — what a nightmare that would be!
Don’t feel confident in your DIY skills? Call a professional from LawnStarter to get the job done right. Get a quote from a local fencing company to weigh your options.
Main Image Credit: John Lord / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0