Looking for a beautiful yet durable way to fence your property? Want to ensure that your livestock or horses can be confined, without any threats to their safety, such as you find with barbed wire or woven wire? Wood split rail fence might just be the answer. One of the oldest types of fencing still in use, split rail fences offer rustic charm and many other benefits. However, you’ll need to know a few things before you make a purchase.


When it comes to installing wood split rail fencing, you’ll find that the process is a little different from installing a fence that uses metal T posts and woven wire fencing. For instance, you’ll need a posthole digger to ensure that your posts are firmly in the ground. If you anticipate needing non-standard rail lengths, you’ll also need a saw to cut them, and a way to reshape the tenon on the end of the cut rail. You will also want to cement your posts in the ground to ensure that they’re completely stable.

On a personal note: for Pine split rail fence with paddle ends I always install the post then slip the rails in afterward. On Cedar with mortised ends, I complete a section at a time. In other words, I set the first post, load the rails into it, and the second post, then concrete the second post. Making sure the string line is just touching the second post. So each section is 100% complete as I finish. Watch the post height as you cannot come back and lower the post once set.

Wood Types

When it comes to the type of wood used to make your wood split rail fence, Western Red Cedar and Yellow Pine are the best options on the market. If you’re going with a wood fence, then these should be your choices in tree species. However, there are other material options on the market today, including vinyl split rail fencing. This looks very similar to natural wood and offers a longer lifespan. There’s also no need for maintenance here. 

Appropriate Use

There are plenty of legitimate use cases for a wood split rail fence. Use this fence to delineate your property line. You can use it to keep horses and other livestock contained. It can be an accent piece, or to make a statement. If you go with a three rail setup or choose to set your rails a bit closer together and closer to the ground, you can even use it for medium-sized livestock, like sheep. What it’s not good for is for preventing smaller animals from getting out of or into your yard, and that includes your dog.

Wood split rail fencing is beautiful, durable, and has many potential uses. With the information provided above, you should be in a better position to choose the right fence type for your needs.