How to Build a Wire Fence With Star Pickets

Star Pickets are multi-purpose steel posts used in gardening, fencing, or marking on construction sites. 

Over 50% of all land used in Australia is devoted to agriculture, with wire fencing and star pickets helping to hold livestock or protect your backyard veggie patch. Today we’re going to look at how to build a wire fence with star pickets.

The main steps when starting construction on a wire star picket fence:

  1. Gather all equipment and materials
  2. Plan your picket and strainer dimensions
  3. Place the strainer posts
  4. Spacing and installing star pickets
  5. Double-check everything
  6. Strain the wire between posts
  7. Attach the wire to pickets and strainers


The pointers below are a checklist. If you are lacking any tools or some materials are not up to standard, it’s time to remedy that now:

  • Strainer posts
  • Star pickets
  • Post-driver
  • Wire
  • Wire strainer
  • Fencing stays
  • Shovel (If wooden strainer posts are used)


Before you begin to hammer the first post in, it is important that you zone in on the layout of your fence. Where do you want it? Traverse the perimeter where you want the fence to go and mark out critical points including corners, gates, and any changes in terrain or soil. Your location and land determine the size of your fence and consequently, the number of materials you need.

Your markers are where the strainers will be. Markings should also be made for inline strainer posts. If you plan to install posts after every fourth picket, and your pickets are four metres apart, then you want a strainer post every 20 metres. With a rough outline of the site, start clearing debris that may hinder your work.

Once cleared, you can now begin installing strainer posts.

star picket fence dimension outline

Figure 1: strainer posts as the red lines. Placed at critical areas and inline every 20 metres. Star pickets should be placed in 4-metre intervals.


Strainer posts are available as metal or wooden poles and are arguably the most important component of your fence. Placing these will ensure your star pickets and wire fencing remains taut.

Start by placing posts at every marked area from the previous step. Now it’s a matter of setting inline strainer posts down after every fifth picket. It is possible that you need to reduce the gap to four or three pickets between inline posts, but this depends on your livestock and the terrain.

Firmly set your strainer posts into the ground by digging and filling, or, the preferable method of using a post-driver. The deeper into the ground the better as this increases their load capacity and ensures they won’t rip out of the soil.

It’s finally time to attach stays that act as supports for your strainer posts. Stays must be twice the height of your wire fence and be on a 45 degree angle. With posts and stays complete, it’s time to install the star pickets.


Grab your wire and lay along the ground between two strainer posts, giving you a reference for installing the star pickets in a straight line. To ensure your wire tension remains, it is ideal to place pickets every four or five metres. Anything beyond that range becomes a burden and can weaken your fence.

After spacing your pickets along equally, hammer the star pickets in 600mm deep using the post driver.


This is the point of no return, or at least, return without a significant headache. Check the stability and spacing of your strainer posts and star pickets. If you’ve misjudged the distribution or positioning of certain pickets, now is the opportunity to remove and reset using a lift. After inspecting your work and concluding that everything is in order, begin the penultimate step.


Using a wire strainer, attach the wire to the strainer post and run through the star pickets to the next strainer. When straining, overcompensate with the tension slightly, as tying off results in loss of some tension. Remove the wire strainers once tied off. This excellent guide by Tim Thompson demonstrates the process.


Secure your wiring to posts and pickets. Clips or tie wires are useful for attaching to star pickets. Once you’ve gone through all posts and pickets, your star picket wire fence is complete