I need some advice on the best way to stick my pole...

Andre1969

Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
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in the ground. :D I figured that title would get some attention. But anyway, the advice I need is for something a bit more mundane.

I'm soon going to replacing a stockade fence, including the fenceposts. Well, at first I was going to use concrete to secure the posts in the ground, but then I've heard that there are advantages to just using crushed gravel instead. I read that it drains better, won't shrink and crack like concrete can do, makes the posts easier to remove if you have to at a later date, and keeps the post just as tight and secure as concrete would after about two weeks of settling.

So, any advice here? Would the gravel work? I like the idea of being able to just do gravel, instead of messing around with concrete. Any particular type of gravel that would be best-suited? Could I just use the same #57 blue stone gravel that I use for my driveway?

Thanks for any advice!
 
Hmmmm... I may be missing something, but when we replace fence, we just keep tamping (if that's a word) down the dirt around the post as we fill the hole with dirt. Seems to work.
 
I put in a post for a hammock, and didn't use any cement or gravel. It's been fine for 5 years now.
 
Martha, I'm in Maryland, DC suburbs. The ground is pretty hard-packed, at least in the one spot I dug a test hole on Sunday. Soil seems pretty dark and rich at the top, but with rocks in it. I'm guessing that's from the old days when the road used to be dirt and gravel, and some of it just ended up off on the sides. Further down, it seems to have alot of clay in it.

I had thought about just tamping dirt back down around it, but was worried about it swaying about in the wind, especially with a 6-foot tall stockade fence attached to it. As it is, most of the other posts holding the fence are wobbly, leaning, or both. I think it must be at least 20 years old, though.
 
In frost country with clay soils, the soil can heave and move your posts around a lot, even if you use concrete.

What I have seen recommended is concrete for the corners, down below frost line, and gravel as you mentioned for the other posts and have at least 1/3 the height of those posts in the ground. Or better yet, below frost line if that is deeper.
 
I think around here the frost line is 30" or 36"; can't remember which. All I remember is that when I had my garage built last year, the county engineer mentioned having the footers go below the frost line.

I think maybe that little blurb about having the poles at least 1/3 in the ground is one reason why the old fence is a'rockin so much! I dunno how far in they are, but if it's a 6' fence that would mean the pole has to be 3 feet in, and I don't think my Granddad and stepdad put that much effort into it back when they put it up!
 
My only experiences are with livestock fencing, and we never used concrete as the rumor was that water would collect on the concrete and rot the wood faster.  We used the old "piece of rebar" tamping tool and I think the posts I put in as a kid on the farm are still going strong (creosote posts about 2'6" in the ground) are still functional.  We have 266 posts around our property that were put in this way 4 years ago and haven't had any problems.  We did rent a two-man auger to dig the holes.  Oh yeah, and don't use the auger where your neighbor's phone line is buried on the property line--that's a real deal-breaker on the good neighbor thing.   :) The 1/3 rule is a good one, we've always used that--as well as not strectching the distance between posts too much. Ours are 5 feet apart and have a support "H" every 50 feet.
Sarah
 
Andre1969 said:
I think around here the frost line is 30" or 36"; can't remember which.  All I remember is that when I had my garage built last year, the county engineer mentioned having the footers go below the frost line.

I think maybe that little blurb about having the poles at least 1/3 in the ground is one reason why the old fence is a'rockin so much!  I dunno how far in they are, but if it's a 6' fence that would mean the pole has to be 3 feet in, and I don't think my Granddad and stepdad put that much effort into it back when they put it up!

Maryland frost line is 24" per the building codes.

Fence posts should be dug deep enough to have 4-6 inches of gravel and the post encased in concrete with a convex finish above ground level to allow water to flow away from the post. You can try it different ways but termites and wind will eventually take out your posts in that climate. Heavily treated posts (creosote) would fare better than the stuff you get at HD or Lowes. The more wind load on the fence (less open space between slats) the better you posts need to be secured.
 
The builder where I live just stuck the posts in the dirt.

Between the termites, other bugs and rot, they're all about to shear off at the ground line.

I guess the concrete would have provided a bit of a barrier against the bugs.

And another thing that concrete helps with is when the posts get old. I've bought these metal brackets you can drive down next to the posts into the 'box' left by the post in the concrete, one on each side, then you bolt them together through the post. Between the long metal shafts and the concrete still there, it can hold a post for many years after the posts base is gone.
 
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