How to set posts in the ground with concrete to preserve wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Home and property owners who decide to build fences on their properties are faced with a few choices of building material, including chain-link, stone and wood. Wooden posts that support a wooden fence present a challenge in the form of properly setting the posts so that the wood on the base of the posts does not rot in the ground. This can be accomplished using concrete, which adds strength and support but also preserves the wood.

Call your local building authority and inquire whether you need to purchase a permit to build; these permits vary by project and jurisdiction. Also call your utility company to ensure you won't be digging into any buried cables.

Measure out the length of the fence using the tape measure and hammer stakes into the ground to mark the locations of the posts. The distance between the posts should be roughly the same as the length of wood you'll be using for the actual fence, so keep this mind when determining post placement.

Tie nylon cord to the first stake and run it along to the other stakes to create a straight visual guideline. Make any corrections to ensure the line is straight. After removing the first stake, use posthole diggers to dig the first hole. The depth of the hole will vary by the length of the supports, but generally speaking, you'll want to dig the hole to at least 2 feet deep to create a solid support.

Remove each stake before digging each hole. Stand your level vertically in each hole to ensure that the bottom is level and dig until level if necessary.

Mix quick-drying concrete per the manufacturer's guidelines in a wheelbarrow.

Shovel enough of the concrete into the first hole to fill it about halfway. Set a post into the hole and position it straight (use your level to ensure it's level). Hold the post firmly in place and have someone else shovel enough concrete into the hole to fill it to the top. Use the flat underside of the shovel's head to smooth the concrete level with the soil.

Hold the post in place for several minutes to allow the top of the concrete pour to solidify. The bottom concrete will eventually harden over the course of a few days to secure the post and form a seal around the base of the post to protect the wood from moisture. Repeat the steps for the remaining posts.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • Posthole digger
  • Level
  • Quick-drying concrete mix
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
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