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A Wooden Fence Surrounding a Concrete Patio.

How to Completely Tear Down a Fence


 

Fence Removal: Your DIY Guide

There are plenty of reasons to get rid of an old fence. Maybe it’s leaning with age or missing panels after a storm. Perhaps you got a new puppy and need a fence with pickets closer together. Whatever the reason, tearing down a fence is a fairly straightforward project.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to remove a wooden fence. Luckily, if your fence is vinyl the steps are fairly similar and we’ll note any differences you need to know.

PROJECT DIFFICULTY RATING: Intermediate

 

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Fence Removal Steps

  1. Prep for the Job
  2. Disconnect Gates
  3. Remove Fence Panels
  4. Pull Out Fence Posts

 


How to Tear Down a Fence in 4 Steps


On the surface, removing a fence can feel like a huge undertaking, particularly if the fence wraps around a large property with a lot of posts separating the panels. However, it really isn’t too hard of a task to accomplish if you have the time to devote to it.

Our guide will walk you through it step-by-step so you can tear down your fence with confidence.

Prep for Fence Removal Banner Image.

Step 1: Fence Removal Prep

It’s time to start your project, but there are a couple things to do before you start the physical work. From who to call and what tools to grab, here’s everything you need to know to get the project started on the right foot.

Make Calls

Before you power up your saw and start making a mess, there are a few calls you need to make. By making these calls, you’ll ensure that you won’t run into any serious issues or project delays.

  • Utility companies: You need to know if any utility lines run under or near the fence before you start digging. Luckily, all you have to do is dial 811 to set up a survey and have someone flag all the lines in your job space.
  • Local government: You may need to submit your plans to your city for approval. It’s also worth noting that some municipalities may require you to get a permit to tear out a fence. Plus, if there are any questions about if the fence is on your property, your local government can help sort it out.
  • Your neighbors: It’s a good idea to clue your neighbors in about your plans. They may need to make changes to their yard space if they have use the fence as well. Plus, you may even get an extra pair of hands to help with the project.

Fence Removal Tools

While there are tools you can rent from a home improvement store, you really can tackle fence removal with the supplies found in your basic toolbox.

Fence Removal Tool and Supply List
Tools
Supplies
  • Pry Bar
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Reciprocating or Hand Saw
  • Step Ladder
  • Shovel
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Spare 2x4s*
  • Spare Cinder Blocks*
  • Chain with Grab Hook*
  • Car Jack*

* These supplies are optional based on the fence post removal method you select.

Before you get much further, it’s worth spending a few moments considering how you want to get rid of the old fence materials. Most bulk curbside collection companies will only accept a specific amount of waste at one time. Plus, they often have restrictions on how large the pieces of wood can be.

To get rid of the old fence quickly, consider renting a roll off dumpster. With a range of sizes, you can find one that fits comfortably in your driveway, making it easy to toss everything as you work.

Pro-Tip: If your yard is a bit overgrown and you need to clear some brush before removing the fence, we also offer yard waste dumpsters that make green waste removal a breeze.

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How to Remove Fence Gates Banner Image.

Step 2: Dismantle Fence Gates

It’s time to get to work. The best place to start is with the gates.

  1. Take a screwdriver and unscrew the hinges from the gate posts.
  2. Lift away the gate and carry it to the dumpster.
  3. Unscrew any remaining hardware from the fence post.

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How to Remove Fence Panels Banner Image.

Step 3: Remove Fence Panels

Once you have removed all the gates, it’s time to tackle the panels. If you don’t care about keeping the fence panels intact, you can simply cut them off by the posts.

  1. Cut the rails with a reciprocating saw or hand saw as close to the fence as possible.
  2. Saw or break the fence panels into small, manageable sections if needed.
  3. Carry each panel to the dumpster as you work.

Vinyl Fence Tip: Do not use the saw method with vinyl fences because there may be metal underneath the panels. Instead, unscrew the brackets from the posts and lift the panels away.

If you’re hoping to reuse or repurpose the wood, you’ll want to remove the fence panel-by-panel. While a bit more time-consuming and labor-intensive than the saw option, the damage-free option is still quite easy to accomplish. Grab your pry bar, hammer and screwdriver to get started.

  1. Find where the rails are attached to the post.
  2. Unfasten the rails from the posts. If they are attached with screws, just unscrew them. If nails were used, you may need to pry the rail loose with a pry bar before using your hammer to completely detach them.
  3. Remove the panels from your work space and store them safely.

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How to Remove Fence Posts Banner Image.

Step 4: Pull Out the Fence Posts

With just the posts remaining, you’ve gotten a bulk of the project out of the way. However, this is where the hardest work comes into play. Fence posts are typically cemented into the ground. It’s great, because it gives them lasting sturdiness and durability. However, this can be problematic when you need to remove the posts. There are a number of ways to accomplish this step, and they all depend on how hard you’re willing to work.

How to Remove a Non-Cemented Fence Post

If you’re fortunate, your posts will not be cemented into the ground. You can find this out simply enough.

  1. Grab a post and try to wiggle it.
  2. Keep wiggling if it’s clearly gaining movement until you are able to push it about an inch in each direction.
  3. Pull the fence post straight up.

If the post is not cemented, it should easily come out. If it stays in, you’ll need to try one of the following methods.

How to Remove a Fence Post With Concrete Footing

There are a lot of methods to tear out fence posts with concrete, but it really comes down to what tools you have available to get the job done. Read through our top-three methods to see which option sounds the most appealing to you.

Pro Tip: It’s more than possible to remove your fence posts without spending any money. However, there are plenty of post removal tools — such as a t-post puller — available for rent at your local home improvement store that will make the job easier.

Dumpsters.com Infographic About Using a Car Jack to Remove a Fence Post.
Option One: Use a Car Jack

For this method, you’ll need to get your shovel, a chain and high-lift car jack.

  1. Dig around the post so that 3-4 inches of concrete is exposed. You may need to dig over six inches for this to happen.
  2. Wrap your chain around the exposed concrete so that it will not slip off. You can either use a slip hook to latch the chain to itself, or wrap the concrete a few times, then pass the chain under itself upward from the bottom.
  3. Place your jack next to the post, and wrap the other end of the chain around it, using the grab hook to lock it in place.
  4. Pump the jack lever until the post and cement footing have been removed from the ground.
Dumpsters.com Infographic Detailing How to Create a Lever to Remove a Fence Post.
Option Two: Create a Lever

If you don’t have a car jack, creating a lever is another simple concrete post removal method that can be done with some spare 2x4s and a couple cinder blocks.

  1. Take a pair of 2x4s that are about a foot long. Stagger them so that one sticks up about 5-6 inches above the other.
  2. Fasten the 2x4s to the post with the higher piece against the post.
  3. Place a cinder block 12-18 inches away from the post.
  4. Grab a 6–8-foot long 2x4 and slide one end into the notch you created when you fastened the shorter boards to the post. Be sure the 2x4 rests on the cinder block.
  5. Push down on the 2x4 on the other side of the cinder block, which will in turn push the post up and out of the ground.
Dumpsters.com Infographic Detailing How to Remove A Fence Post by Digging.
Option Three: Dig and Push

You’ll have to do a lot of manual labor for this method, but it’s a great way to remove cemented posts if you don’t have a car jack or the materials needed to create a lever.

  1. Dig around the post until you see the full circumference of the cement footing.
  2. Pick a side and dig down six inches.
  3. Push on all sides of the post to loosen it.
  4. Attempt to pull it up or completely push it over.
  5. Dig another six inches down on the same side you previously picked. Then, push it and try to remove it. Repeat until the post is removed from the ground.

Cement Disposal Tip: Be sure to check if concrete is allowed in your dumpster. If it is, keep in mind that the weight of cement adds up fast.

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Fence Removal FAQs

How Much Does Fence Removal Cost?

DIY fence removal can be as expensive as getting a permit from your local government. However, if you choose to have a professional take care of the job, expect to pay $1-2 per foot of fence.

What’s the Best Way to Dispose of a Fence?

Renting a dumpster is an ideal way to dispose of your fence once you’ve pulled it out of the ground. Just toss all the panels, gates and posts in and let us haul it away. Plus, most municipal curbside collection services will not accept construction materials or may require the wood to be cut to certain lengths.

Say Hello to Your Wide-Open Yard

The fence is gone, but what’s next? If you’re hoping to replace the fence, you still have a footprint ready to guide your project. Are your fence days over? Be sure to fill in the post holes with a bit of dirt and plant some new grass. Either way, a new adventure awaits in your own back yard.

Recommended Reading:
Year-Round Yard Maintenance Guide | Landscaping Tips for a Total Lawn Renovation | How to Demolish a Shed

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