How to Drive Cedar Fence Posts

Written by regan hennessy
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How to Drive Cedar Fence Posts
Use a sledge hammer to drive your cedar fence posts. (a sledge hammer posing image by timur1970 from

Whether you're installing a picket fence for your backyard or a woven wire fence for your cattle pasture, the fence posts you use determine the structural integrity and overall lifespan of your entire fencing system. Fence builders desiring naturally rot-resistant posts often opt for cedar fence posts, which, according to the University of Tennessee Cooperative Extension, can last 15 to 25 years without chemical treatment. Driving your cedar fence posts into the ground provides an easier, quicker installation method than digging the post holes by hand, especially if you start with posts that are pointed at one end.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Mower/weed eater
  • Hammer
  • Metal rebar posts
  • Shovel
  • Pointed cedar posts (4 to 8 inches in diameter, depending upon the type of fence material you plan to use)
  • Sledge hammer
  • Level
  • String

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  1. 1

    Clear your fence line of obstacles such as excess vegetation and boulders. Use a mower or weed eater to trim the grass down to a short, even height so you don't have to trek through tall weeds as you install your cedar posts. Hammer metal rebar posts into the ground to mark the corner-post locations.

  2. 2

    Dig a 6 inch deep hole in the first corner-post location with a shovel. Position the pointed end of the first cedar post in the centre of the hole and straighten the post in place, checking with a level to make sure the post is completely straight. Hold the cedar post in place with one hand. Grip your sledge hammer handle close to the hammer end to increase your control of the hammer blows and drive the cedar post into the ground using short, strong strokes.

  3. 3

    Check every few strokes to ensure that the post is still straight in the hole. Remove your supporting hand from the post once it's firmly in place in the soil and the top of the post is low enough for you to be able to pound it easily holding the hammer with both hands. Position your hands at the far end of the sledge hammer handle to increase your pounding force. Drive the post into the ground to a depth of 2 to 3 feet. Repeat this installation process for each of the corner posts.

  4. 4

    Tie a string around the first corner post and run it along the fence line to the second corner post. Pull the string taut and wrap it around the second corner post. Repeat this process with the rest of the corner posts to provide a guide string for the placement of your cedar posts.

  5. 5

    Drive the cedar posts into the ground with your sledge hammer, locating them as close as 8 feet apart for a picket or board fence or as far apart as 18 to 24 feet for a general-purpose wire livestock fence. Position the line posts along the outside edge of the guide string to ensure that the fence line is straight. Install your fence boards or fence wire as desired.

Tips and warnings

  • Check with your city office regarding any permits you may need to obtain before driving your cedar fence posts.
  • Back injury could occur. Avoid driving cedar fence posts if you have a history of back problems.

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