How To Install Fence Posts in Dirt

You've finally realized your yard is missing something crucial, a fence. Whether it's in the front or the back yard, a fence can serve as added protection; become a decorative accessory to your house or a simple way of keeping the neighbor's pesky dog off your lawn. Whatever the purpose for having a fence is, we need to start by installing the fence posts into the dirt.

Ready to dig in? Before you start, you'll need the following materials: fence posts, 2 or 2 1/2 -foot spikes, twine, hex bolts, a level, multipurpose screws, a screw driver set, garden stakes and of course, a sledge hammer. The amount of each material depends on the size of the fence being built, so plan accordingly. And remember, it's always better to buy more and return any excess materials rather than taking multiple trips to your local hardware store. Ready to begin? Read the following steps to ensure that each of the fence posts are inserted properly.

  • Begin by inserting a stake into the dirt where each spike is going to be placed. This will allow you to make any adjustments to the location of the spikes without ruining your yard.
  • To assist in the location planning of the fence, tie a long piece of string or twine around the stakes to help create a visible representation of the fence perimeter. This will help ensure no obstructions such as trees or brushes will get in the way of the fence.
  • Once you're happy with the location of the fence, remove the twine and the stakes from the ground. By hand, place a spike where each garden stake was previously placed. Use 2-foot spikes when building a fence 4 feet high. If you decide to go taller, use the 2 1/2 foot spikes.
  • Due to the importance and nature of the square socket of each spike, it's important to keep the integrity as you drive each one down with the sledgehammer. In order to do so, place an extra fence post in the square socket of the spike. Remember to use the same fence post for each spike.
  • Now, grab the sledgehammer and pound the spike half way through. Grab a level to check the angle of your spike. Make any corrections to the spike at this point.
  • Once each spike is plumb (at the perfect angle), continue to hammer the spike thoroughly into the ground until only the square socket is visible.
  • Remove the extra post from the socket and replace it with another post. Use the extra fence post for the other spikes.
  • Depending on the type of fence spikes you've installed, secure the fence post into the socket with screws or hex bolts.
  • Repeat steps 1-8 until all the desired posts have been installed.

Now that the fence posts are put in place, take a moment to relax. You're about half way through putting up the rest of the fence. Remember, the fence posts are the most important part of the whole structure as they provide the backbone to the fence. Double check your handy work; ensure the posts are placed firmly into the ground. After checking the posts, roll up your sleeves, grab your tools and get ready to finish what you've started!


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