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picsaro 03-17-2010 09:43 PM

Sagging Fence Posts
My fence is only 3 years old, yet several posts are sagging backwards or forwards. They appear to be set in nothing. Maybe thete is gravel way down, but i doubt it.

I dont see any rot, so i assume the posts are just naturally moving. What can i do? Pour crushed stone? Iff so, is there a special kind i should use? Any other method?

Jim F 03-17-2010 10:15 PM

I have a few like that. It was never a problem with my 4 ft fence but since I went 6 ft I have a few leaners. In my case I know there is one the I just couldn't get down any deeper. Most of them I just cheated and used the same holes for the original shorter posts.

They were all dug out by me manually originally with a post hole digger and pry bar. They generally sit 2-2 1/2 ft deep. It's a great workout, trust me. In setting my posts, I would start with the larger stones I dug up, mix in some dirt, tamp and repeat the process until the hole was filled.

That worked pretty well. My gate posts are set in 2-3 bags of quickcrete each- not in those cardboard tubes- just freely poured into the base of the hole and then back-filled with dirt and rocks after the quickcrete set. They have not budged in 15 years. That be the way I would go with problem leaners, but I am curious to see what the fence pros think.

Bondo 03-18-2010 11:29 AM


I dont see any rot, so i assume the posts are just naturally moving. What can i do? Pour crushed stone? Iff so, is there a special kind i should use? Any other method?
Ayuh,... You don't say where you are, so I'd assume Frost is the culprit....
The very least, easiest way to fix it is to push 'em back up right,+ stomp the dirt back into the low side, holdin' 'em straight...

Water Guy 03-18-2010 11:34 AM

I've been building fences for over twenty years. For a six foot wood fence my posts go in concrete 3'. The post hole is at least 42" so that you have at least a 6" concrete base. I've never had a leaning post, but then again I put my name on each and every fence. Gate posts go down four feet. Do it once, do it right.

I've seen people put posts in the ground 6" - 8" and expect it to hold up. Wind shear is a strong force. A wood fence is like a short sail, it will try to move if it's not anchored down.

And you can always get it down deeper. I've seen people try to mound up concrete a foot above ground on a fence post to try to keep it up. The post hole was only dug down 4". It was in a known rocky area. Hammer drills, spade bits, and more sweat gets it done. But then again, you have to have some pride in your work to do it right.

I love it when people think that the best way to do it is to 'save money' by not using concrete.


picsaro 03-18-2010 03:21 PM

I am in NJ, and the posts are for 6 feet fence.

I am not going to attempt pullling the posts out of the ground, so i'm looking for a way just to straighten them. Would my rock or that dirt idea work?

Jim F 03-18-2010 04:23 PM

I have one post that is only about 2 feet into the ground and there is nothing I can do about it short of a rock drill. some years ago a previous homeowner had a 4x6 ft concrete slab that was the base to a firepit buried in the middle of my back yard about two feet down rather that haul it to the landfill and the is what that post sits on.

I also found a cavern of some sort digging back there- maybe an old dry well- never did find the bottom of it. I just set my post on top of the undisturbed rock, back filled and just hoped for the best. My posts are mostly 3 ft down but the only ones that have concrete are the gate posts.

A fence contractor is a great luxury if you can afford one, but I reserve contract labor for those jobs that I absolutely cannot do myself. For the most part, I know my limits. I will eventually get around to concreting the problem posts but the majority of them are stable.

GardenConcepts 03-18-2010 05:07 PM

Two ideas:

What I would do, is dig around the post with a post hole digger and dump concrete mix (dry) into the hole. Tamp, and it will set up from the moisture in the soil.

A quick, but not necessarily permanent fix is to push the fence upright/plumb, and get a shale bar/digging bar (one end has a blade, the other a mushroom-like end for tamping) and pack the heck out of the soil (add gravel if you wish) until it is tight. You'll probably need to do this every year or two.

Scuba_Dave 03-18-2010 05:34 PM

I've cut stakes out of PT 2x4 scrap & pounded them in around posts too
The wind will blow a fence back & forth...make it loose eventually
My last house I just gravel & a sledge & pounded the gravel in around the posts
It was an 8' tall lattice fence & it never moved

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