Turning the House Into Our Home: Ranch Style Fence Construction

Growing up, mainly in apartment complexes, I always dreamed of having a little house with a big yard and a white picket fence. I’ve lived in shoebox villages laid out with dank narrow hallway labyrinths and tiny hovering balconies teeming with hanging plants and bicycles my entire childhood. Home was within the confines of my bedroom proudly adorned with a frilly white canopy bed where I dreamed each night of being someplace else. It was a pad where a latch key kid could eat dinner every evening by calling for delivery from one of the many local restaurant menus in a kitchen drawer where utensils should have been. My community was not a neighborhood; it was school, where I learned about relationships and cultures, and the beach, where I experienced endless hours of memorable fun and recreation. I was not impoverished, but similar to the penny saving mom in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I looked forward to someday, maybe, staying put in a home, in a neighborhood with real established neighbors, surrounded by a white picket fence with posts solidly rooted to the ground.

I never did get a white picket fence- We built a ranch style one instead!

Constructing the Ranch Style Fence

The Plan:

While R was post surf relaxing in a hammock down south, he was designing and emailing ideas for building a fence at Casa del Norte:

This is sort of what I’m thinking for front fence.  They don’t have anything just like this at Lowes, except maybe vinyl.  I’m thinking of using 4x4s, 2x6s, and those wooden caps.  As for footings, what do you think of those pre-made footings with a 4×4 bracket already in place?  I’d just have to dig a hole and be done…

I’ve included a way of doing it without boring the 4x4s.  I could just shoot a diagonal screw in as well…


Fence 1

Since I happily agreed, the ideas began evolving…:

until we settled on this design:

The slats in between posts are all single pieces of wood.  The little vertical lines you see were some kind of design software default.


Construction Commenced:

Brackets for footings.

We dug post holes, mixed cement by hand (ugh!), and poured it into the holes shaped by cut-to-size cardboard columns.  Posts were leveled, then secured by temporary stick stabilizers until the cement dried them into place.

2×6’s were secured by vertical blocks in order to easily replace, if need be, in the future without disturbing the posts and neighboring rails.


We decided on a low gate rather than a grand cattle ranch style entrance with an overhang.

Once we had the plan, materials, tools, and communication, everything fell into place.

Landscaping was happening simultaneously with fence construction.  We were eager to get our collection of California natives and many other varieties in the ground.  Within minutes, our milkweeds began luring the monarchs.


A white fence doesn’t magically become a white fence!  It takes primer, a couple coats of semi-gloss, and good company.

Turning this old California ranch style house into our home still requires a ton more work (note the mint and yellow!), but grounding our post footings was a big start!


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