How to Install 4x4 Fence
Tips for Installing 4x4 Fence Posts that
will Stand the Test of Time and Wind
By Mark J. Donovan
When building a backyard fence, it is
necessary to install fence posts every 6 to 8 feet or so. Installing 4x4 fence
posts can be challenging if you live in a rocky area. It can also be dangerous
if you do not contact DigSafe first. In many cases underground utilities can be
buried where you plan to dig. By contacting DigSafe ahead of time, they can let
you know if there are any underground utilities to avoid when installing your
It is important when installing fence posts to bury them deep enough so that
they donít wind up leaning over after the first big wind storm.
For best results, you should bury
them to a level that is just beyond the depth of the frost line for your region
of the country. This said, sometimes it is impractical or too expensive to buy
very long fence posts. At a minimum, however, you should bury the post to at
least half the depth of the length of post that will stick out of the ground.
For example, with a 6 foot high fence, the post should be buried in the ground 3
feet. Even if you do not live in a deep frost-line area it is important to get
this type of depth to prevent the 4x4 fence posts from leaning over due to wind
forces. It is also important to use 4x4 lumber that is treated and rated for
To install fence posts on a property
line it is important to survey the property first, and understand the required
setbacks specified by your local building codes.
Once you know where you want to
install your 4x4 fence posts, use a posthole digger to dig the holes.
Alternatively you can use an auger to speed up the process of digging the fence
post holes. Make sure you make the holes sufficiently wide enough for the posts,
e.g. approximately 8-10 inches in diameter.
After digging a fence post
hole, set a post into the center of it and use a 4 to 6 foot level to plumb
the pole. Also make sure it is in line with the other fence posts. Using a
string line along the length of the staked out fence line is helpful in
positioning each fence post.
To hold the pole in place you can
use either concrete or crushed gravel. If you are using concrete, make sure
to mix it up after you have dug your post holes and are ready to install
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While holding the fence post
plumb, and in-line with the other fence posts, have someone shovel in
concrete or gravel into the hole. If you are using concrete, use an iron bar
or shovel to work the concrete around the base of the fence post as you pour
shovelfuls of concrete into the hole. If you are using gravel, then tamp the
gravel down every 6 inches or so, up the length of the hole. This will help
to lock the fence post into place and prevent it from leaning later on.
After installing the fence post
allow the concrete to fully dry, if using concrete, before installing the
fence sections. Note that wind forces can put tremendous stresses on a fence
post. Consider installing fences that allow air to quickly pass through the
fence, e.g. a split rail fence, or a picket style fence with spaces
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financing is required.
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