How to build a hit and miss fence

Installing a fence, while a bit time consuming, is a fairly easy task to accomplish.  You don’t need to have anything other than basic building skills. As is the case with most home improvement tasks, make sure to give yourself adequate time to finish.

If you are looking to achieve a combination of privacy and eye appeal your best bet is a hit and miss fence. While they may look more complicated than the standard side-by-side picket fence, the difference in difficulty is minimal. While they take slightly more time to complete and use about 15% more pickets, the difference in style and increased privacy make them worth the investment in time and resources.


Here are a few of our hit and miss fence panels; simply click on them to view the product pages:

a vertical hit and miss fence panel in situ a small hit and miss fencing run in situ a horizontal hit and miss panel in situ

Tools and supplies

Here are the tools and supplies you will need:

  • A helper - building a fence is not a one person job. Make sure you have at least one other person, two is even better.
  • Tape measure
  • String line – Have plenty of this on hand.  You will need at least twice as much as the total length of your fence
  • Spirit level
  • Stakes
  • Battens
  • Post hole digger – Yes you can dig the holes with a spade, and if your fence is small that will work fine.  Post hole diggers are a must for larger job. You should consider renting powered post hole diggers as well, especially for a really larger job; you’ll save a great deal of time and your back will thank you at the end of the day.)
  • Gravel
  • Concrete
  • Galvanised nails
  • Hammer
  • Fence posts – About one-third of the post will be in the ground. For a two-meter high fence you should buy three-meter posts.  You want to space your posts about 2 to 3 meters apart.
  • Rails – you will need at least two for each section of the fence, three gives even more stability.
  • Pickets – for a hit and miss fence you will need 15% more pickets than for a side-by-side fence.  Add about 10% more to account for waste.

a hammer, nails and piece of wood  

Building a hit and miss fence:

You should plan on your project taking at least two days, as you need to give the concrete around the posts the chance to sit for a full day for stability.

  1. Lay out the perimeter – Put a stake in one corner and use the string line to lay out the fence. Place a stake every 2-3 meters and keep the line straight and taut.
  2. Dig your post hole – the holes should be 600 by 300 cm.
  3. Place your fence posts – Once the post is straight, add about 5cm of gravel to help with drainage and fill the hole with the concrete mix. Stop a few cm from the top. Use one of your stakes to slope the concrete downwards away from the post. This will help water drain away from the post and prevent rotting.  Attach the battens on either side to keep the post straight.  You will be covering the concrete with soil, but wait until it sets.
  4. Place the rails– Nail your rails to each post, using the spirit level to keep them straight.  Place the first rail about 30cm from the top of the post, the bottom about 30cm from the ground and the third in the middle. 
  5. Add the pickets – Place a picket at each corner post and run another string line at about eye level to keep the pickets straight and even at the top.  Add the first line of pickets to the rail. The easiest way is to cut a 10cm spacer block to set the placement of the pickets.  Once you have reached one corner go back and place the remaining pickets to cover the 10cm spaces.

You now have a beautiful hit and miss fence that not only looks nice but will give you the most in terms of privacy.

You may want to add post caps and finials as well. Not only will they add to the decorative nature of the fence, the post caps will help prevent the post from rotting at the top.

While your fence can stand as is, you may wish to consider staining the fence.  Staining adds to the eye appeal and will add to the overall feel if you decide to add a garden and sitting area in the future. The other advantage to staining is the protection that it gives you fence. It will easily add a couple of years to the life of your fence.

Perhaps DIY isn't your thing? Panic not, we have a marvellous selection of ready made fence panels to choose from instead. Take a look at these helpful videos too, for even more information:

Hopefully the above guide has been of use to you; if so, why not share on social media with family and friends? Perhaps they too could benefit from some fencing advice. If you have any more questions about hit and miss fence panels, leave a comment down below - we're always happy to answer any queries.