Installing your own wood privacy fence can be a pretty straightforward job. With just a few basic tools and a free weekend (or two) you’ll save some money and have bragging rights with your buddies about whose fence is better looking. Not a bad deal. But how deep should you dig wood fence posts to ensure they will give your new fence the support it needs?
It depends on where you live, really.
The only reason you set a fence post in concrete is to combat against the frost. When that nasty force of winter gets underneath a wood post (or anything buried in or laying on the ground), expansion in freezing weather will move anything in its path. Frost will recede in spring, often leaving your fence post in its new position – your fence leaning, your gate off kilter or your deck crooked.
And that’s why you need to dig a hole deep enough to get below the frost line in your area. Most often 42 to 48 inches is good. The pros most often dig somewhere around 48 inches, just to be sure. Make it about 10 – 12″ across at the mouth. Clean out the hole, place the 4×4 in and pour concrete in until the hole is full. Voila. You have a fence post that will stay put year after year.
How Can You Get That Deep?
Digging a 4 foot deep hole doesn’t sound that bad. Digging 15 or 20 holes to build a fence all the way around your yard sounds like torture to many. So how can you ensure your fence postholes are deep enough without breaking your back?
Call in the pros for a helping hand.
Many fencing companies offer a service to dig postholes and set the 4×4’s (or 5×5’s or 6×6’s) in concrete. After waiting a few days for the concrete to set, you can then start building the fence. Don’t worry – full bragging rights still apply to you on this job.
Look for a company that will do more than drive in with a posthole auger, dig and set the posts and disappear. Full DIY packages include help with the locates (call before you dig to be sure all of the hydro, gas, phone and cable lines are out of the way), clean up the job properly and even include delivery of all of the materials you need for the fence job. One phone call to these pros and the whole DIY project is set up for you. If this is your first time building a fence (or you’ve forgotten how), ask the pros for some expert advice.
For the best looking and most durable wood fence possible keep those fence posts at least 42 inches in the ground. Call in the pros to help with the postholes and you can flex your DIY muscles on the rest of the job. It’s the best of both worlds… and you won’t break your back.