When it comes to fencing in a yard, post and rail fencing does not come in too high on most fencing option lists.  The style tends to make people think of pastures and farms since it is the preferred fence for keeping cattle and horses from wandering off.  While it is a very sturdy fence it doesn't offer everything a standard chain-link or partition fence brings to a yard.  However, if you don't want to block off the view of your yard and want something to act as a property border, than post and rail fencing might be right up your alley.

Pros and Cons

Like every product, fence or otherwise, there are positives and negatives for post and rail fencing.  While the aesthetic is a matter of opinion there are some areas where other fence types have a notable advantage.  You will need to weigh your personal needs and location to decide if any of the negatives are deal breakers.


  • When installed correctly it is a very sturdy fence that can even be used to pen in cattle and horses.  This is the reason it is mainly seen in farm settings.
  • It does not obscure what is behind the fence making it a great choice if you have a home or a yard that you want to keep visible.
  • It has minimal care if you choose a water-resistant wood such as cedar.
  • Tends to stand out when put beside typical fences such as chain-link.


  • There is no privacy gained from using a post and rail fence.  Depending on the closeness of neighbors this may be a matter of large importance.
  • While it would deter people from crossing your yard it will not keep out small to midsize animals such as dogs.
  • It will not keep debris like newspaper and trash from blowing into your yard.  If you live in an area where there is a lot of trash collection in a small area this may be a large issue.
  • Depending on the material you use it can more expensive than some of the more common fencing options.

Style and Material Options

Post and Rail FencingCredit: Wikimedia.orgAssembly Style:

When it comes to post and rail fencing there are two main methods of attaching the rails to the posts.  The cheaper and easier method is to simply nail or screw the rails onto the posts.  This is the non-traditional method of putting up the fence and brings with it increased maintenance.  The traditional method is named mortise.  The mortise method involves carving holes into the posts level across the entire length of the fence.  The rails are then narrowed at the ends so they can be inserted into notches.  A standard 12 foot rail would use three posts.  The first and third posts would be at the ends of the rail while the second post would be used as a guide to keep the rail from warping over time.

Material Options

Post and rail fencing is classically done with solid wood.  While any wood would work you are best off using a water-resistant wood like cedar to prevent the wood from rotting.  There are artificial options you can choose from such as vinyl that give the same durability but it loses something in the aesthetic.

The Right Fence For You

Ultimately, no one knows what you need for your home or property more than you.  If you are looking for privacy or animal deterrent, than post and rail fencing likely isn't for you.  However, if you are just looking for something to define your space and would like it to stand out from the fences you buy by the yard from a home improvement store, than post and rail fencing is a classic option that deserves a closer look.