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flatcoat 05-15-2010 08:25 PM

Clarification regarding fence posts
I'm building a lattice top fence in PT lumber around my property. I'm building panels that will be attached to posts. I chose this approach because of the design I wanted for the fence. Some panels are 4'x8' and some 5'x8'. In spite of the relatively short height of the fence, the panels are quite heavy (I'd say they weigh between 100 and 110lbs each). I've been researching the best way to install the posts for the fence, and I find there to be many different opinions on this matter.

Some basic points about my location: I'm in Nova Scotia Canada and although I'm not on the coast, it can get pretty windy. The ground is heavy clay, and I suspect it may be a little rocky. I believe the frost line goes about 4' down.

The most common solution appears to be 4x4 PT posts dug 3'-4' down and set in concrete. To protect from rot, people suggest making sure the concrete reaches above ground level and is sloped. However, others will say the concrete should stay below the surface level in areas with frost to prevent the posts from being moved up by frost. I don't want my posts to rot or to be moved up by frost, so which is best? I read that I should bury them below the frost line, but that would mean more than 4' down - that seems like overkill to me.

I understand the purpose of the concrete for increased lateral stability. Could that be accomplished by using 6x6 posts instead of 4x4 (i.e., skipping the concrete altogether and making up for it with wider posts), and then back fill with gravel? This would allow for good drainage and no issue with frost moving the concrete up.

At the end of the day, I want my fence to look great now and for the next 10 years. I look forward to your feedback.

bernieb 05-16-2010 03:44 PM

I know what you mean by many here's another. Use 4x4 for post and pre cut the tops in a mitre box of your liking, then pre soak the post in driveway black tar, the part that goes underground that is. You may want to wait on the concrete till last because it seems that the classy job your after, you may have to raise or lower your post to look right. Personally I'd omitt the concrete and just use gravel, since you have to go so deep.

GardenConcepts 05-16-2010 04:26 PM

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I would go with the 4" x 4" posts deep in the ground with concrete. I don't think a 6" x 6" would work as well if you make a shallow hole- the rigidity will come from having 4' of the post in the ground. This fence uses 4" x 4" posts, 3' deep with concrete:

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