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  1. #1
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    Sep 2009
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    Default installing stockyard fence

    I'm installing a stockyard fence around my backyard. I received conflicting information in reference to, whether or not the post should be cemented in the ground. I was told the cement will be a problem when the ground shifts. What should i do?

  2. #2
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    Jun 2007
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    Normally with fence posts you do not need to put concrete to support them. Put in good draining and compacting gravel. Dig the hole about 6" deeper than you need to and put in a good gravel base so it drains well. Then put your post and compact gravel around it. The only place you will need to put in concrete would be for any posts that a gate will be attached to.

    Mike

  3. #3
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    Disallignment of posts often occurs from frost heaving. If you are in heavy, non-draining clay soil and the bottom of the post is not below the frost line, you can expect movement regardless of whether the posts are in gravel or concrete.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    Quote Originally Posted by sabo4545 View Post
    Normally with fence posts you do not need to put concrete to support them. Put in good draining and compacting gravel. Dig the hole about 6" deeper than you need to and put in a good gravel base so it drains well. Then put your post and compact gravel around it. The only place you will need to put in concrete would be for any posts that a gate will be attached to.

    Mike
    After building hundreds of yards of fencing, I respectfully disagree. You need to engulf all posts (metal or wood, treated or redwood) in concrete, actually 2' deep for 6' tall fences, or deeper for taller fences. In fact pour a little extra concrete around the post to keep dirt away. You don't want any contact between dirt and posts.

    If you don't, you'll have rotted posts in no time and a weak fence.

    I agree about the drainage.

    Regarding the earth shifting: I live in earthquake country, and I don't worry about it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Houston Texas
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    Adding ceement to the hole does make setting the posts easier. Since we have a fairly high water table round these parts, we dig the hole, insert the too-long uncut post, align the post then pour in dry powdered ceement a few inches lower than the coil level. You can either add water to the top of the ceement or let the ambient soil moisture set the ceement overnight. The ceement fills the voids between the post and the soil easily since its dry powdered and flows like the sand in an hour glass.

    If frost heaving is of concern, then make the bottom of the post hole below frost level, and wider than the opening of the hole.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    I have to respectfully disagree with dj1. I just removed a fence that I put in 25 years ago and I did not use concrete. As hard as it was to get the posts out, imagine how much harder it would have been if I had used concrete. Treated posts BTW.

    Concrete conducts moisture so the wood is as likely to rot in concrete as it is in the ground. Whether using concrete or not, be sure to mound the dirt/concrete next to the post about an inch above the surrounding ground level to drain water from the base of the post.

    But none of this has to do with the OP's original question. If the ground shifts, the post will move regardless of whether it is concreted in or not. With concrete, the post is stable much more quickly than with just dirt.

    With dirt, you have to have a bar to compact the soil every couple inches as you backfill the hole or the post will just fall over in no time. Even with good compacting, the post can be unstable for awhile.

    Here is an alternative that works very well. when a post does rot, it rots at ground level. The post 6" below ground level is likely to be as solid as the top. Use something to waterproof the section of the post from 1" above ground level to 6" below, like tar. Compact dirt up to 6" below ground level. The concrete the last 6" plus a little domed cap above ground level.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    After building hundreds of yards of fencing, I respectfully disagree. You need to engulf all posts (metal or wood, treated or redwood) in concrete, actually 2' deep for 6' tall fences, or deeper for taller fences. In fact pour a little extra concrete around the post to keep dirt away. You don't want any contact between dirt and posts.
    I would respectfully disagree as well. Having installed many miles of fencing in my lifetime, in particular stock fencing in a rural setting, I can assure you that concrete is not necessary. Concrete actually holds moisture against a post because it wicks it from the surrounding ground, yet doesn't release it too well when things dry out, causing the post to rot (even treated posts). Add to the fact that most installers do not bring the concrete above ground level and a situation is created for rot to kill the post with in just a few years.

    Back on the ranch, posts were set with the same dirt that was removed from the hole. Added back in layers and tamped solidly with a pole or shovel handle. This method is a little more labor intensive than using concrete, but you can build on the post immediately after it's set, there's no risk of pushing it out of plumb or damaging it's moorings. Corner posts were triangulated with a cross brace to the companion posts base, same with gate posts. In the over 20 years living on that ranch, very few posts had to be replaced from rot, most were damaged by equipment or the occasional rampaging animal.

    In today's world where steel T-posts are economical, one only needs to set wood corners and a few intermediate line posts in wood, just enough to get a good stretch on the wire, the rest can be steel t-posts that are just driven into the ground. T-posts are much faster and easier to install than any other type of post, and as long as you don't have excessively soft soil or belligerent animals, the fence will do just fine.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    Keith and Spruce,

    Regardless of your logic, on my next fencing job, my posts will go in...CONCRETE. But I appreciate your input and respect your opinions.

    Out here, the most and fastest damage occurs to posts in dirt or gravel, not to posts in concrete.

    Maybe it's a "back east" thing to do it differently.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Maybe it's a "back east" thing to do it differently.
    Say what? I'm a northwest boy! We had hard-pan clay in the summers and literally knee deep mud in the winter. Soil type may play a part in what happens to the posts, but back on the ranch I never saw a bag of concrete and never had problems with posts.

    Truth be told, regardless of how the post is set there can be rot problems. I think it boils down to water table height, type of soil/acidity level, and a few other factors. I've got dry set posts here that have rotted just as quickly as wet set (concrete ) posts have. My cure is to use Postmaster style steel posts set in concrete. No rot issues - EVER - at least not in my lifetime!
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: installing stockyard fence

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    Say what? I'm a northwest boy! We had hard-pan clay in the summers and literally knee deep mud in the winter. Soil type may play a part in what happens to the posts, but back on the ranch I never saw a bag of concrete and never had problems with posts.

    Truth be told, regardless of how the post is set there can be rot problems. I think it boils down to water table height, type of soil/acidity level, and a few other factors. I've got dry set posts here that have rotted just as quickly as wet set (concrete ) posts have. My cure is to use Postmaster style steel posts set in concrete. No rot issues - EVER - at least not in my lifetime!
    I thought you were in the NE...

    Anyway, you are absolutely correct about your analysis about water table and type of soil. We have very little water here and soil which is a mixture of sand, loam and clay, our conditions vary from the midwest or the east coast, therefore, what goes here is not necessarily what goes there. I didn't invent "posts in concrete" - I learned it from others early on, but it seems to work around here.

    I've used the postmasters you refered to: a 2' metal stake with a 4x4 seat for a post. The stake goes in the dirt and the post is attached above ground. I've also used Simpsons connectors that worked pretty good. A little more expensive though.

    It's all about what the customer is willing to pay.

    BTW, we have a lot more fences than folks in other parts of the country. We primarily use Masonry fences (block wall), Wood fences (Redwood or Cedar), Chainlink and Vinyl fences.

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