Fence Posts

56 responses

  1. Anthony
    June 14, 2012


    I was bouncing around the web looking for the best method to set wood fence post and found this comment. I live in Oklahoma where the winds
    Can get pretty strong and actually just snapped my neighbors posts. I am building a 6' privacy with little to know space between planks. Is this method you are using good for this or should I dry pack with concrete? I would
    Really like your opinion.

    • Tim Carter
      January 11, 2013

      Anthony, you need to schedule a 15-Minute call with me. There's simply too much to talk about and type.

  2. sonia
    January 27, 2013

    Can we put a fence up over a drain field? Septic tank itself is right outside the back porch. What would you suggest? Will it be harmful for the dogs to be out there?

    • Tim Carter
      February 24, 2013

      Go for it!

  3. Joe
    April 11, 2013

    I live in illinois, on a hill. winds are not too bad but can get pretty gusty at times as i live just off the mississippi. I want to put a Easy Gardener 7 ft. tall. DeerBlock Protective Mesh around my garden, and was planning on using 4x4x10' posts for this fencing. it is aproximately a 20' square garden and plon on myabe 8 posts. How deep should i sink the posts and would this be effective enough and enough poles for this style fencing? Or do you think wooden poles would be over kill?

    • Tim Carter
      April 12, 2013

      Joe, you should probably do a phone consult with me.

  4. Dan
    April 23, 2013

    Good article Tim, thinking about doing this myself and wondering if you have any recommendations on what size crushed gravel to use, or does it matter? Thanks!

  5. Brian
    May 5, 2013

    Tim, I want to install a volleyball net over my above ground swimming pool. I live near Chicago so we get every sort of weather. My ground is clay after a foot or so. I bought 2 6"X6"X14' PT postsand plan on renting a hole auger and going 4' or as deep as I can get it. Once the net is installed it will try to pull the two poles in towrds themselves so I was thinking about pouring another concrete footing about 6' away from the poles to attach guy lines. My fear is that if these posts rot they may fall in on the pool and collapse the whole thing. The guy lines are also insurance for this - they would pull the posts in the opposite direction of the pool. What is the best way to set these posts? They need tol be stable and remain straight. Thanks, Brian.

  6. Jerry
    May 5, 2013

    I am constructing a 6ft privacy fence, and on one side I have encountered a problem with a hole right in the middle of the fence line. The hole has water seeping up from the bottom. We have bailed out the hole, but water continues to seep in. What can we do to fix this, or can it be fixed at all?

  7. Harwell Jones
    August 17, 2013

    Tim, thanks so much for just reading my question, It's my hope you can/will advice me in building my fence. I lived in Mississippi and I purchased my home over twenty years ago and I think I've had to replace or repair my privacy cedar fence if not every year, at least every other year as I'm close to the Gulf Coast and we get those one-hundred and thirty-five mph wind as in Katrina. This time I'm installing treated pine 6"x6"x10' post 72 inches apart on center and using a concrete tube 48 inches in length 12 inches in diameter and putting them 42 inches in the ground and letting 6" rise above ground level and hopefully preventing the post from ever rottening over time. I'm putting four and half bags of 80 lbs 5000 psi concrete in each hole, as well as using four runners 2" x 6" x6 feet, my pickets are cedar 51/2 inches in width and 84 inches high as I raised them off the ground four inches in hope the weed trimmer or rain water level won't distory them as well. Do you think this fence will withstand hurricane force winds and if not what should I do different, please.

  8. Joe
    January 2, 2014

    I'm replacing an existing fence in south Florida . The ground is some type of coral with about 2 inches of top soil . It's a wooden fence and the cement has bonded with the coral preventing me from digging around the cement and pulling the post out .what is the best way to remove the posts? What equipment is needed? Do I need a tractor to pull out the posts?

    • Tim Carter
      January 2, 2014

      Easy. Rent a demolition hammer and get different bits. Tool rental store.

  9. Cheri Alderman
    July 17, 2014

    Hello Tim.
    I would like to put up some 4'x8' sections of privacy lattice (lengthwise across) since I live in an HOA with houses very close together with NO privacy. When I voiced my concern to my realtor she said to just "plant it out." Well, I found out that is not possible as the soil is clay and the drainage is terrible! My two neighbor's gutters and downspouts drain into my front mini yard and my backyard (and they refuse to correct the problem) -so even though I had 2 French drains put in the back which was quite costly, the water still pools and stands, so nothing will grow there. I cannot plant trees as the distance of my yard to the neighbors' houses is very narow and quite close. I'd also like to do something that will work now in my immediate lifetime. My idea is to put a row of 4-8' lattice panels end to end on 4x4 treated fence posts length-wise across three sections of my yard and then plant some kind of evergreen vine at the ends perhaps on a berm or raised brick flower box. The lattice can be 8 ft. high (as a "trellis") but cannot be attached to the (very decrepit) fence as fences can only be 6 ft. tall. I got HOA permission for the 8' trellis. SO! My big concern is putting fence posts in a swampy area, which is often since I live in Vancouver, WA where it rains a lot. I am a senior on very limited income so can't afford to hire a company to do the project. After 5 years my son has finally said that he and his visiting friend from out of state will do the job, but I know he prefers to cut corners and do it quickly. He wants to put the 10 ft. posts 2 ft. down in quick-set concrete and slap the lattice panels up. I fear the posts will rot out quickly in this soil and climate and have also been told that the lattice panels (cedar) should be painted with clear penetrating sealer before installing. I don't think either of them plan to stick around long enough to do that. I'm 71 and 5' tall so can't do it after they are up, and could not get to the other side to paint it. "Time" is a huge factor before his friend leaves, and my son goes back to work. I have spent several hours reading about fence posts online, (finding so much contradiction) and it seems to me that it may be best to not have the posts in the ground at all, but to have them sit above ground level on a metal post support that is itself sunk into the cement. Cost is a huge factor for me, and I looked at all kinds of metal supports and spikes on line, and would very much like to have your professional opinion on the best way to go about this project, and in the most economical way that will last. I do hope it will be possible to hear back from you very soon as I think there is little time to corral my son and his friend (before he leaves) to do this job for me.

    • Tim Carter
      July 19, 2014

      Cheri, this requires lots of discussion. A phone consult is in order.

  10. Dan
    July 18, 2014

    I live in Toronto and the frost line last year was 4 1/2 feet. I am going to use 6 x 6 x 10' posts and I'm going to cement them in the ground 4 feet with a 10 or 12 inch Sono tube. I want the fence to be 6 feet high .Do you think that will be sufficient? Thanks for your time.

  11. Jo Siegel
    July 18, 2014

    I'm building a 6-ft-high lattice-topped cedar fence. The basic 8-ft-wide panels are solid. Instead of setting the 10 panels close to the ground as is usually done, wouldn't it be better wind-wise to place them, say, 6 inches off the ground, giving the wind a place to pass through? Rabbits and other flora-eating varmints will have easy access, of course, but they can get through via about 200 ft. of open lawn anyway. Thanks.

  12. Derrick
    July 24, 2014

    What should I chargr to take out a treated 4x4 privacy fench post and replaceit

    • Tim Carter
      July 27, 2014

      Here's my best guess: $830.92

  13. Tyler
    August 4, 2014

    How long should it take to set 312 wood posts 5,000 ft of fence?

    • Tim Carter
      August 4, 2014

      Let's see, how about one post every ten minutes. It depends on so many things!

  14. Tyler
    August 4, 2014

    And the round wood posts are 5 1/2 inch diameter

  15. Cynthia
    September 5, 2014

    I am having a home built and they put up my 8 ft fence board on board with steel post and it looks great all except they put a big deep in the middle of the fence that runs along down the side of the house. It looks goofy and I don't like it. I believe they made a mistake but builder said has to be that way. Can you tell my why or is he lying to cover up a mistake.

    • Tim Carter
      September 6, 2014

      No, I can't tell you unless I was there and interviewed the man.

  16. Dave Sawatski
    September 27, 2014

    We purchased a home with an existing fence and it appears that the fence posts were not tamped very good as the posts are loose. How can we firm the posts up without taking the whole fence apart ?

    • Tim Carter
      September 28, 2014

      Tamp the soil around the posts or add crushed stone next to the posts in place of the soil.

  17. Mike
    January 26, 2015

    Interesting article.

    Couldn't help but think that if people really wanna know how this trick works you can do the same thing with a jar of rice and a pencil. If you keep poking down the pencil into the rice, eventually it gets such a grip that you can pick up the whole jar of rice with the pencil due to the high friction forces ! Try it.

  18. Dave
    February 8, 2015

    I live in Tampa, Florida and was considering using this method to build a pergola. Will be using a total of four 4x4 12 foot posts 3 feet deep. Would this method work?

    • Tim Carter
      February 8, 2015

      It will until the next hurricane blows over your nice town.

  19. ron
    February 16, 2015

    the question is simple how long do you let the concrete cure before you can continue working on the fence

  20. Allison
    March 24, 2015

    Hi Tim, I am putting up a four feet picket fence. I am using 8ft premade panels, or at least this is how long they should be. If I am wanting to use the toe nailed hanging look, how far apart should my 4X4 posts be set apart?

    • Tim Carter
      March 24, 2015

      Just put the posts in the holes with NO FILL. Nail the fence sections to them. Plumb and fill around the posts as I describe in my Fencing columns. Do NOT fill around the post with concrete!

      • Allison
        March 27, 2015

        I am sorry I am still confused, I thought I was to dig the holes for the posts and then connect the panels after the post are set, but how far apart should I set the posts? Or should a lay the panel down and and mark where the panel should be like other websites say,

      • Tim Carter
        March 28, 2015

        Allison, perhaps it's time for you and I to talk on the phone... I can only invest about 30 seconds per question here because I get so many across the site.


  21. Art
    March 28, 2015

    I have a 5' rock wall and I want to extend the height 2-3 feet. Since only a few feet will be exposed to the wind, how deep should the posts be in the ground; also, I found various sizes of angular crushed gravel, what size should I use?

  22. Anthony
    April 24, 2015

    I have tried looking for answer or even just the formula to calculate my own answer.
    The issue is i had 3 stock fence panels(4'Wx6'H) that fell over. The old post rotted. I cant dig hole because of all the tree roots. So i planned on building raised beds/flower boxes but can figure out how big/depth i need to make them to hold up the fence.

    Height is 2' width is 6' depth unknown.

  23. Chuck Z.
    June 4, 2015


    Do you also recommend the gravel method for decorative aluminum fencing? I live in northern Ohio and am setting 82", 2X2 posts for 54" tall panels. Manufacturer recommends a 36" deep hole with 12" of gravel in the bottom and remaining 24" concrete.

    I am concerned that the gravel will allow too much water to collect (heavy clay soil with slow percolation) and will actually facilitate heaving of the concrete.


    Chuck Z.

  24. Darren
    July 17, 2015

    What is an easy way to nail a fence panel to a post when a neighbors fence is back to back with your new fence

  25. Ron Wharton
    August 19, 2015


    I bought a house with a 6 foot wood fence and wood fence posts. Can I replace the 6 foot pickets with 8 foot pickets? It has 3 rails from post to post and the posts are 5-6 feet apart. The posts feel solid in the ground.

  26. Lisha
    October 25, 2015

    I'm putting up a 6foot wood privacy fence, with the root of a tree I can only get two of the holes 1 1/2 foot deep. Will this work. Live in my. Thank you for the help.

  27. Dave
    March 4, 2016


    As someone who has installed a few fences for family and friends, I can attest to the difficulty of removing concrete footings from fence old fence posts. I live in NH just as you do, so digging a hole 3' deep and trying to remove concrete is terrible. Thanks for sharing your method for securing the posts. I am always perusing your site, but I failed to see this posting. Great ideas, advice, and knowledge. Thanks again!

  28. Paxton
    March 15, 2016

    Hey Tim
    Just wondering if the 71yr old who couldn't afford to hire fence company ever called?(Cheri)
    "lots" of conversation at $49.95 for 15 min?or if you offered your "expertise" out of the goodness of your heart ?
    You must have a PHD in fence posts at that price!!

  29. Lisa
    March 15, 2016

    Hello we are replacing a 15ft section of our wood fence (front part the rest is chainlink :-(.) but we are unsure on how many 1x4's & how many posts we need. The fence will be 5ft tall with roughly a 5ft gate (also making the gate). Please help

  30. David
    March 22, 2016

    This method really works! I have used it for years on various projects using 3/4" crushed rock. I like to line the hole with a heavy duty garbage bag with the bottom removed for drainage. Why? To keep the dirt from sloughing into the gravel over time. I did a solid 9' fence with 3' deep footings 20 years ago still standing straight.

  31. Michael
    April 25, 2016


    I just put up a 4x4 x 6' horizontal fence with 1/4" spacing between each panel (panels are 23/32" treated plywood approximately 11" wide. I buried my posts 17" down with a little over half a bag of quickrete per hole.

    This was my first fence install ever and on my own property.

    Based on your experience, Do you know if I'll ever encounter any problems with this setup? I live in North Texas.

  32. Dan Heming
    April 28, 2016

    I'm planning on building a 6' wide wooden gate, 5' in height utilizing a 4'x4' post. Is your gravel method still adequate to resist the side loads exerted on the supporting post? Thanks

  33. jacquelyn
    May 2, 2016

    I have existing hedges that run 120 ft on my property front to back. On my side of the yard all I see are roots, bare branches, and dirt, my neighbor see's the green full hedge. For years we have wanted to remove the hedges but because of the drop, we are afraid that the land will slide. I want privacy and wonder if a fence can hold back the hillside. The drop between the properties can go anywhere from 1 ft to 4-5 feet from his side to mine. If i level the yard with dirt, it will cause a bigger drop or steeper slope towards the middle of my yard. Any suggestions on how to handle this problem?

  34. Nick S
    May 3, 2016

    Does anyone know if the crushed stone fill will work if you're setting 2 5/8 " diameter steel posts 2 feet deep for a 6' high stockade fence?

  35. Traci
    June 5, 2016

    Hi I'm planning on putting a 3ft high picket fence up,I'm using metapost spikes could I use 2x2 post or would I need bigger posts?

  36. Steve
    June 20, 2016

    Thanks for the awesome article. Quick question... should the base (bottom) of the hole be a layer of tapped gravel to prevent the wooden post from coming in direct contact with dirt? (Or does it really matter?)

  37. Pam
    June 23, 2016

    Alrighty.. I have an issue with my husband. He isn't a builder but insists on building a 6ft fence around our new home himself. All by himself. Plus, he's "saving" us money by using 6 foot fence posts, sinking them 1/3 their length into concrete filled holes (which is correct here in Washington). The problem I'm having is that he knows 4ft posts will be used to hold 6ft panels of cedar with lattice tops. I've never even heard of fences being done this way. Is this a disaster in the making, or should I not worry about the short posts?

    • Nathan
      June 25, 2016

      The posts will be fine but the panels will not. They will have 2' at the top with nothing to attach too. Over time I would expect them to warp at the least and fall off at worst. You really need at least 9' posts buried 3' in the ground.

      Think of the time it takes to build, it's not something that he's going to want to have to re-do later if things go wrong. Spend the extra $$ and do it right the first time.

  38. Robyn
    June 29, 2016

    I had 7 fence posts reinstalled on Tuesday and my fence panels reattached. I tested one today (Thursday) and it is very wobbly compared to my older posts. Is this normal and they will stiffen up over time or did the installers not do a good job of installing the new posts?

  39. Shelby Clark
    July 8, 2016

    Great post - thanks! I'm considering building a 6' tall horizontal fence. How far apart should my posts be?

  40. Jeff
    July 11, 2016

    Do you put the post directly on the ground and then backfill with roak? Or should there be gravel under the post too? If so how much? If not, would that interfere with drainage?


  41. Danny Walls
    July 15, 2016

    I am needing to an approx 12 ft fence panel to block off my pool equipment. The equipment is along an 8' board on board cedar fence.
    I am looking at putting the panel parallell to the existing fence approx 4' in . So the equipment will be sandwiched between the existing fence and the new panel. In front of the equipment you will find all the plumbing, elec, gas, etc that i do not want to disturb so I am thinking of spanning the 12' using only two posts which will be planted on each side . With that i am going to try to compensate for a post in the middle by using 6x6 posts and either 2x6 or 2x8 runners. board on board probably 6' high. Your thoughts?

  42. Warren Mortensen
    January 18, 2017

    Only wish that you wrote this article 50 years ago when the old man had us digging post holes half way to China for 4-strand barbed wire on 140 acres of wooded pasture.

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