How To Cut The Grass Near a Fence

Fences are important features of a yard, not only defining the parameters but also keeping some things in and other things out. When your lawn butts up against the fence, the mower can’t reach the edges closest to the fence, leaving that job to the weed trimmer. 

A weed trimmer, however, can beat up your fence over time, and for stained wood panels, the damage is noticeable right away. If the grass or weeds along the fence isn’t trimmed, it becomes a place where pests can nest, and it can encourage mold and mildew along the bottom of wooden fences from the shady and moist conditions overgrown grass will provide. The kind of fence you have will define how you should approach keeping the grass along it trim. 

Trimming Along Fences

No matter what kind of fence you have, the direction of your weed eater’s head spinner will matter. Most trimmers spin counterclockwise, and for those models, it’s best to move from the right to the left. This is so the string catches the blades of grass for a clean cut. For spinners that spin clockwise, it’s best to move from the left to the right of the fence line to get the best trim from the weed eater. 

For wood and wire fencing, trimming will need two passes for the most effective job. The first pass should cut as close as possible to the fence without touching the material; some grass along and under the fence will remain. The second pass will be a gentle, up close trimming to get the remaining blades of grass.

Trimming Along Fences

Different kinds of fences require a specific approach based on their materials and design. Your yard may have one of the following types of fences:

  • Solid or slatted fence
  • Chain link fence
  • Rail fence

How To Trim Along A Solid Or Slated Fence

When it comes to solid or slated fences, the wire of a weed trimmer will not only wear down as it beats against the wood or vinyl material, it will leave marks and slowly chip away at the fence over time. The posts in solid fencing can make small spots where the string can’t get with a single quick pass. 

After the first trim gets as close as possible without touching the fence, you can approach the closer trim in a couple of ways depending on the type of weed trimmer you have. For both electric and gas trimmers, a low power setting will decrease the pressure the trimming wire and the fencing will be put under to get a trim right against the fence. 

It may take some maneuvering to get all of the grass along the fence. For shadow box fences, that have one row of open spaced panels along either side of the posts, grass can grow under and in between the slats. The trimmer may need to be tilted at an angle to trim under the fence. 

For fence posts that create corners, the direction of the weed eater will affect its ability to get those extra blades that evade the reach of a normal pass. If you have an electric trimmer, you can simply turn it over so the spinner goes in the opposite direction to get into the problem corner.

If you have a gas trimmer, you might not be able to tilt it completely because the fuel feed can be interrupted from the shifting position.  

How To Trim Along A Chain Link Fence

How To Trim Along A Chain Link Fence

For chain link fences that have lots of open spaces between their woven wire, a gentle approach is the best way to manage the task. Those open spaces allow grass to easily grow through and around the wiring, making it accessible to your trimmer, but harsh on the trimmer’s wire (and potentially damaging to the chain links as well).

On your second pass along the fence line, you should set the weed trimmer on the lowest power, near idle, to gently trim in between the links. This will keep any damage on the fencing to a minimum, keep the trimming wire from wearing down as quickly, and trim the grass cleanly.

How To Trim Along A Rail Fence

Rail fences are popular on larger properties. They may be made with wood or wire along wood or metal posts. Since they are more common in yards with more acreage, the best way to trim weeds under and along these fences is with a fence trimmer attachment for a tractor or riding mower. 

While the bottom spaces on these fences are open and accessible with a normal weed trimmer, the length of these fences makes it impractical to do with a normal weed trimmer. A fence lawn mower attachment has a cutting blade on a swing arm with an adjustable height that cuts under the fencing and gently bumps against posts, dragging around them as you go. 

How Do You Separate Grass From Fence Line?

Separate Grass From Fence Line

While some people like the lawn to reach right up to the fence, others prefer to create some space between the fence and the lawn edge. This can be done by adding a mulch growing area along the fence line. Brick, other stone, and edging barriers can also be used to create a clean grass edge before it reaches the fencing.


Creating a mulch planting space along the fence helps reduce the need for trimming against it. This area can be used to plant bushes, trees, or flowers, and the mulch will prevent grass from growing on that ground. The mulch can be separated from the grass with stones or edging barriers, or by creating a small border ditch, called spade edging, that has to be maintained but allows an open edge of the lawn. 

Edging Barriers

Metal, plastic, or wood edging barriers can be installed to keep the mulch and the grass separate and prevent spread of the lawn towards the fence. An edging barrier has to be several inches deep in the ground to prevent grass roots from extending.

Bricks And Stone

Bricks and paving stones can be laid under fencing to create an impermeable barrier to grass growth, or installed as a mulch border to keep the grass and mulch areas separate. In any case, stones must be laid on compact, tampered ground to be sure they don’t shift. Mortar helps create a foundation and fill in gaps between bricks or stones to be sure no grass gets through.

A concrete barrier can also be installed in-ground as a mowing strip under fencing or along with mulch, or above ground as a barrier to keep mulch separate from grass.