5 Different Ways To Set Fence Posts In The Ground

When it comes to fencing, it is critical to have fence posts installed to create the most solid wooden fence possible. Installing fence posts is an important step in ensuring that your enclosure remains upright and straight. Installing a fence post is a difficult task, but with the correct knowledge and tools, you can complete it.

Here are 5 of the best ways to set a fence post in the ground:

MTB U Shape Fence Post Holder Ground Spike Post Anchor Metal Black Powder Coated 4 Inches x 4 Inches (Inner Dia 3.5x3.5) 4 Pack

A steel anchor is a bracket that holds a post in place. On the other end of the steel anchors we’re talking about is a long, four-flanged metal spike. The anchor is the pointed end, which is hammered into the earth. The post is then easily inserted into the bracket on top.

To utilize them, you must first locate the boundary line, mark it, and then indicate the positions of your posts. It’s generally easier to draw a chalk line and then use marking paint to determine post spacing. After that, you attach a two-way level to the post anchor, set it on the mark, straighten it with the level, remove the level, and begin pounding it into place with a sledgehammer.

As you drive the anchor, periodically replace the level to ensure that it remains upright. When pounding on the anchor with the level connected, the level may be damaged.

Place your post after the anchor is in place. Make sure the post is plumb with a level before firmly attaching it to the anchor with screws. Manufacturers of post anchors should provide a jackhammer bit tailored to match their post anchors if you’re erecting a lengthy fence, as this eliminates the majority of the effort necessary in pushing the anchor into the earth.

The most obvious benefit of steel anchors is that they eliminate the need to dig and re-dig holes. Another benefit is that unlike wooden posts buried in the earth or concrete, the anchor will not decay over time. Of course, steel in the ground will rust, but a well-galvanized post can endure a long time–up to 50 years in the worst soil conditions.

They also hold posts in place almost as well as concrete footers, but without the trouble of pouring concrete or removing huge pieces of concrete to repair the fence.

2. Expanding Foam Sika Postfix Fence Post Mix, Mix-in-The-Bag Expanding Foam for Supporting Non-Structural Posts, Fence, Mailbox, and Sign Posts

For homeowners looking to lay fence posts, expanding foam offers a lightweight, weatherproof alternative to concrete. The foam may be utilized in hot or cold conditions and does not require any water or other liquid to be mixed with it.

A popular option is Sika PostFix Fence Post Mix, simply follow the instruction on the bag and you will have a very strong foam base. Sika foam begins to harden in about 3 minutes and in 2 hours it will be fully hardened.

To put up a fence this method, start by digging a hole with a spade or shovel to the desired depth and roughly twice the diameter of the post.

Then, in the center of the hole, place the post. Make sure it’s standing straight, then use one or two tiny pieces of wood to support it in place.

Place your resin bag and scissors on the table, then put on a pair of plastic gloves to prevent resin from getting on your skin. To mix the resin, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Each bag includes two resins that are used to make the expanding foam. The outside bag contains one resin loosely, while the inside bag contains the other resin in a smaller pouch.

Lay the bag flat on the ground when you’re ready to use the foam, then roll or walk on the outer bag to rupture the inside pouch, enabling the resins to mix. Squeeze all of the resin out of the inner bag after the inner pouch has broken.

Squeeze or knead the bag until all of the resins are evenly distributed and the contents develop a light yellowish-tan hue.

Squeeze the foam from the bag’s corner into the posthole. Apply a consistent amount of foam mixture to the whole post. Although the foam will only fill a section of the opening, it will grow to 15 times its original volume.

Before contacting the post, let the foam expand and cure. Depending on the kind of foam you choose, this might take anywhere from three minutes to an hour.

3. Gravel and/or Crushed Rock

Crushed rocks

Gravel is an excellent alternative to concrete since it eliminates drainage issues both beneath and around the foundation.

The viability of gravel as a post setting, however, is dependent on the soil. It won’t work in sandy or loose soils, but it’s perfect for thick clay. If you live in a region where strong frosts occur frequently, this is a smart alternative since it makes the fence less prone to frost heaves.

It’s quite similar to putting a fence post in the ground. You’ll need to use your clam digger to dig a one-third-deep trench, then cover it with gravel. Backfill with extra gravel after putting the post in the hole and making sure it’s straight (again, this is preferably a two-person operation). Tamp down the gravel every few inches.

4. Mix and Pour Your Own Concrete

pour concrete post

Because many fence panels are 8 feet long, you’ll want to use a tiny pole, spray paint, or another visible means to indicate the placement of your holes every 8 feet.

As a general guideline, the depth of the post hole should be at least 1/3 of the whole post length. If your posts are 8 feet long, your hole should be at least 32 inches deep. After that, add 6″ inches to that depth for gravel at the base.

Place the post inside the posthole and secure it. Before you start pouring the dry concrete mix, use your level to make sure the posts are plumb and level.

Now it’s time to begin filling the post hole with the dry concrete mix. It’s a good idea to wear some sort of dust mask and eye protection while pouring concrete since the concrete mix will generate dust, and you don’t want to breathe in the concrete mix because it might cause major difficulties.

Then, to the dry concrete mix, add the necessary amount of water. Because it takes a long time to soak through, you may need to add the water in little amounts.

You may move the post a bit when the concrete is wet, but only for a short time. Fill in the final 3 to 4 inches of space in the post hole once the fence post has solidified in the concrete (approximately 4 hours).

5. Directly In the Soil

fence post directly in soil

You begin by excavating the hole. The basic guideline is to dig down one-third of the height of the post. So, if you want a six-foot garden fence, you’ll need a nine-foot post and three feet of digging. The hole should be as near to the post’s diameter as practicable.

To begin, loosen the earth using a trowel before digging down with a clam digger. If you come across any stubborn roots, you may need to bring a reciprocating saw with you. With a bar, knock rocks away, then pick them up with the clam digger. To avoid clogging, you may need to continually cleaning or wiping the digger if you’re dealing with heavy clay dirt.

To use as a footing, dig a hole and place a flat rock, gravel, or a piece of broken concrete in the bottom. Install the post, making sure it’s straight with a level. A second person will be needed to hold the post as you backfill around it and check its level.

Backfill with a mixture of dirt and sharp gravel, then push it down with a long, thin object. When you get to the top of the hole, shovel a considerable quantity of the mix around the base of the post to produce a mound that will allow water to run down.

What is the Best Way to Set a Fence Post in the Ground?

Generally, using the concrete footer and steel anchor is considered the best route when installing a fence post in the ground. Why is this? It’s because the anchors do not fall apart or experience the same wear and tear that many other materials do.

When you are looking for a long-lasting fence post, a concrete footer with steel anchors it the best method.

Read our related post “What is a Fence Post Driver?” here.

Fence Post Directly in Concrete vs. Using Steel Anchor (What’s The Difference?)

Placing a fence post directly on the concrete without using steel anchors can be a recipe for disaster. This is because it dries the wood out and exposes it to the elements over time.

With steel anchors, the wood does not have the opportunity to be exposed to the same amount of moisture coming from the surface of the concrete. That means that the wooden posts will last a lot longer and will begin to decay when the elements hit them.

Is It a Good Idea to Set a Fence Post in Expanding Foam?

Yes it is! Expanding foam is simple to use: simply roll it out, mix it, cut it, and pour it into the hole. This product is robust and extremely resistant to moisture penetration after only three minutes of setting. Expanding foam is commonly used to install fence posts by homeowners and contractors because to its ease of mixing and short set time (typically 5 minutes).

Expanding foam is a material that expands and hardens after being prepared and applied.

Expanding foam may expand up to 15 times its original size, giving it a deceptive appearance. Expanding foam comes in a variety of materials, although it’s usually made of polyurethane or latex.

Should You Avoid Placing a Fence Post Directly in Soil?

You can place fence posts directly in soil but it is not the most recommended and smartest way to set a fence. This is because soil can be shaky and can lead to a fence that is weak in the wind and the elements.

Additionally, you have to be incredibly consistent when setting fence posts directly in soil. If any spot is uneven or not the same depth, the fence will be compromised. Plus if you live in a very wet environment, the fence could also not last a long time when the soil gets soaked.

Does the Type of Wood Matter When Setting in Fence Posts?

Usually, darker, denser heartwood is preferable to younger, lighter-colored sapwood since heartwood has stronger defenses, especially from wood-boring insects. Lastly, regardless of the wood you choose, be sure it’s designated as acceptable for in-ground applications.

Should You Use a Wood Sealer on Fence Posts?

The user of a wood sealer is definitely recommended after installing a wooden fence in your yard. A proper wood sealer will protect the posts from the elements: wind and rain and snow and sleet and anything else. It must be applied evenly and quickly after the fence has been set but one or two coats of the sealer should get the job done and keep the fence in pristine condition for quite some time.

Final Thoughts

There are many options for you when you are looking to set a fence post in your yard, from using concrete to using gravel to using the soil itself. No matter which method you settle on, it is important that you follow the steps closely and accurately to ensure that your fence remains standing and keeps your yard looking great, feeling private, and remaining safe.

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