If you are landscaping your yard there is a specific time, in relation to all of the other landscaping activities, that you should install the fence to avoid many potential problems. The same principles apply to landscaping your yard that apply to the construction of your house. Would you install the carpeting before the drywall? The best time to put in the fence in is after the finished grade is done, but before the sprinkler system, brick work, or planting have been done. Sod should be the last item to go in. There are some very good reasons for this order:
First, If you lay the sod or put in grass seed before the fence is in, your grass may be damaged from the equipment and excavation process. If the sod has recently been laid, the ground will also be wet from the necessary watering, making it more difficult if not impossible to work around and clean up. In the end, it will take more time to install your fence and fence contractors may factor that into the estimate, ultimately causing your fence to be more expensive.
Ramy's theory of sprinklers and posts, applies to the next problem. The theory states that if you put the sprinkler system in before the fence, the sprinkler lines will somehow always end up right where the fence holes need to be. Ramy is an employee of TrueFence Inc and he has formulated this theory from years of experience (we think this theory ranks up there with the theory of relativity). Just as an aside, Ramy also has a sub-theory regarding sprinkler lines and heads running along property lines. The sub-theory states that it doesn't matter where the sprinkler installer thinks he is putting the sprinkler line and heads, they always end up on the neighbor's property (we haven't been able to statistically prove this sub-theory, but we have seen it happen...all the time).
But anyhow, the bottom line is, don't put your sprinkler system or sod in before your fence if you can help it; doing so will almost certainly cause some problems. If you follow our advice you may also be able to save money because there will be less clean up for the contractor and they may be able to use heavier equipment to dig the post holes, resulting in saved time.
If you must put the fence in after the other lanscaping, for whatever reason, don't worry because it is not a serious problem. There are ways to work around underground sprinkler systems and new sod. Contact your fence contractor if you have any concerns in this regard.
Return to the Fence Buyer's University.