How to Set a Corner Post WITHOUT Concrete!


Hey there. Welcome to the very first
installment the Alderman Farms homesteading instructional video series those of you who know us, know that we like to live as self-sufficiently as possible, on a
shoestring budget. And so we’re gonna show you a tip today in our very first video how to set a corner post for a garden fence with no concrete. But
it’s gonna be sturdy. You’ll be able to pull it. This is a tip that was taught
to me by really our mentor the gentleman who
got us into homesteading and goats, and living off the land… Mr. Thomas
Carl “Stump” Easley. And so, we’re gonna dedicate this first video to him and I hope you can…you’ll find it
useful umm…and you’ll be able to put it into play
right away and set posts without concrete. Ready? Here we go! obviously if you’re gonna set a post the first thing you have is a hole for the post so we selected a site where the corner post is gonna go and so…I’m gonna dig the hole I’m gonna dig it… you need to dig it a little bit bigger than the circumference of your pole and I’ll talk to you more…about one certain aspect of the hole that is very important…in just a minute Alright…the hole is dug I’ve got…my posts are 8 feet long. I’ve dug a 3 foot hole I’m gonna sink the pole 3 feet in the ground which will leave me five feet of the pole above the ground. Now I chose
three feet for a couple reasons first of all I want you to see that..I don’t know if you can see it I’ve got a mark, on my…on my post hole digger…uh…to let me know when I’m 3 feet deep By the way… you don’t have to be a rocket scientist
to dig a post hole but you do need to have a PhD (Post hole Digger) [rimshot] I’m sorry that’s
free anyway, couple reasons why I chose 3-foot deep instead of 4 (instead of half of the pole)…uh, the primary reason is “logistics” the…at the 3-foot mark, on my post
hole digger that’s about as far as I can go, and still
get a bite because of the diameter of the hole. Now, I’ve got a 4 foot mark up here on this poll,
if I want to go 4 feet I can but what needs to happen is, I have
to make the hole a bunch wider it needs to make it slope down on one side so I can I open my post hole diggers wide enough to get a bite of dirt So that’s one reason. Second reason I’m sinking them 3 feet: to leave five feet of pole on top the fence that we’re putting on these poles is four feet high that’ll leave me a foot of post past the
fence if I decide to add one string of
barbed wire above the fence remember at the beginning I told you there
was one important aspect of the hole that I would talk to you
about when I got to it well now’s the time and that is, that the back side of the hole and what I mean by “back side” is, the side
of the hole away from…the pulling. Alright, in this
case, on this post we’re gonna be nailing fence onto this post and we’re gonna be pulling it that way the force is gonna be pulling that
way against this post And so, the back side of this hole this side of the post…needs to be…straight. Of course, all sides need to be
straight, but this side needs to be straight because that’s … the back side of
this hole, at the bottom is…is important to support against the
bottom of the pole as the fence begins to pull, the top of the
pole is gonna wanna go that way, the bottom’s gonna go
that way. So it may seem a little counterintuitive at first but when you think about it in terms of the
action of the pole against the pulling force, then it makes sense. The back side of this hole needs to be straight, so that at the bottom,
against the back side of that pole there’s sufficient resistance against the
pulling force of the fence when we go to install the fence. Now, the key to the success of this system is gonna take place uh, in a few minutes up near…the top of this hole but I’m gonna save that secret for a few minutes. Before we get to that, what I’m gonna do now is I’m gonna back…start backfilling this clay…just
about an inch at a time and I’ve got a stick…and I’m gonna start tamping that clay down good and tight…good and tight, round and round and round around the outside of that pole…and I’m gonna do that just a little bit at a time to make sure it’s good and tight round and round and round until I get up…oh, about six inches from the the top of the hole. And then we’re gonna do something else and that’s…that’s install the secret device that’s gonna make
this pole sturdy against the pulling force of the fence being installed alright, we’ve backfilled the hole, about an inch at a time tamping it down nice and firmly…uh…about every inch or so and we’ve done that…I’ve done that up to about four inches from the top. I said six inches uh, before I…uh…got off the film…hey Toby, what’s up?… um… because if you’re…if you’re gonna be
doing a long pull you’re gonna be, uh, holding in livestock and what not, I would recommend coming up six inches…uh, uh, excuse me, six inches from the top, but this a small
garden fence so I’m only coming up to four inches
because…why do I need that? Here’s why: Because here’s the “key” to this system; in fact, Mr. Stump called it a “key” he said “keying” uh, he described it as “keying” a post and I’m gonna tell ya, after you’ve got that…that dirt tamped back in there, especially this clay based soil…this post is pretty firm even without doing this “key.” But to hold off the pressure of, uh, pulling a fence…from this post it needs some added stability, so I’ll take a 2X4 now this needs to be a treated 2X4 it’s not a treated 2X4 because I don’t have a treated 2X4 so…I didn’t cut it to any length…I found it in the barn, it’s a piece of scrap, and so I’ll use it at the length that it is and I’m gonna come down here…remember this is the way that we’re gonna be pulling the fence, so I’m gonna line it up on this post perpendicular to, uh, the line of force I’m gonna bring it down here to the ground I’m gonna tilt it up a little bit on a corner…I’ll explain that in a minute…and I’m gonna basically scribe a line in the dirt, so I can tellwhat I need to do with my “PhD,” …with my post hole digger. Now, I kinda, I can see the imprint where that board was I’m gonna take my post hole diggers, and I’m gonna cut that out a little bit deeper than the width of this 2X4, because I want to be able to cover it up and not have it exposed. The reason I put it on a tilt like this is because I need this 2X4, once I get this slot cut out, as you’ll see in a minute I want to have to drive this 2X4 down in this hole. I don’t want it to just fall down in there, ’cause then it’ll…it’ll allow play with the pole. So, if I do it flat like this, the hole’s gonna be too wide. So I’m actually doing it like this so… I’m gonna dig a little bit narrower than the width of the 2X4, so I have to take a maul and drive this thing in there. So let’s do that now I’m gonna dig the hole, and I’ll be back with you in a minute Okay, hole’s dug. Now, I’m gonna tell you, that’s not it’s not gonna be quite as tight a fit as I would like. I wasn’t thinking about it, I should’ve got my… I’ve got a…that…that’s a heavy set of post hole diggers to dig big ol’ giant holes with, and they’re hard to kinda be precise I’ve got a lighter pair, uh, that I…that I normally use for this process, and I just wasn’t thinking, I shoulda got ’em and I coulda been more precise with the hole for this “key,” but I think it’s gonna work. and I’ve got it…I do have it tight enough where it won’t just fit down in there So I’ve got my… my wood-splitting maul and I can drive it down where I want it nice and tight so that’s what we’re doing driving it down below the ground and there it is Now there’s…there’s one more step… If I…again, if I were doing a very long fence pull where there’s gonna be lots of pressure… big, heavy fence and so forth, over a long distance that is, I would dig out an area right here, and I’d take me two 16-penny nails, and drive it through the 2X4… …or 2X6, if it was a big, long strand by the way, that’s what I meant to tell you I was able to do just a 2X4 here, but on a long pull, I’d do a 2X6 and I’d take two or three 16-penny nails and drive into that nail this board to the post the reason being, is when you affix the, uh… the fence to the post, and you go to pulling, it could have a tendency to twist. It’s gonna hold it and keep the pole from moving this way, but it could twist. You drive nails through that board, it’ll eliminate that possibility. One more thing, some of you may have already thought about this, This is not gonna be a true “corner,” I’ve got a little short strand coming off this side, too, so I’m not worried about it but if this were true corner, where you were pulling fence at a great strain on both sides, what about what’s gonna keep the pole from going… from going this way? Well, here’s the deal: you do TWO! I would sink this “key” twice as deep to give me room to put another one on top of this one going this way. Now, all that remains is to backfill, and we’ll be done. Well, there you have it. She’s in the ground… It’d take a team of mules to pull it out of there all because of Mr. Stump. That ol’ fella knew some things. I hope you learned something I believe you can put this to use right now today, to save you money takes a little effort, but, it’s sturdy… WITHOUT concrete. I hope you enjoyed our first video lesson in the Alderman Farms “Homesteading Instructional Video” series email us if we can help you in any way and be on the lookout…more videos coming soon Happy Homesteading!

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Reader Comments

  1. BB gun Spo Wa.

    MOST EXCELLENT VIDEO !!!! Have no plans to put up a fence any time soon, but I still learned so much, and you explained things so well, and its not that tough to do !Working on getting my PHD now, LOL !!P.S. As a hearing aid user, I REALLY appreciated the time you took to add closed captioning to the vid. Thanks, B&H, Spokane Wa.

  2. I left the left

    I was wondering how they did this. I knew they had to have done it some way cuz old Farmers didn't have concrete most of the time they were farming. Thanks.

  3. kng2bishop

    I think this is exactly what I need. A corner post seems too much for my garden but I do want neat wire. BTW…what are you treating your post with in your garden?

  4. Rhonda

    I'm renting a home and have been trying to find a way to set a post strong enough for a laundry line without pouring concrete into a yard I don't own. Thanks for the tutorial! I'll be trying this out tomorrow.

  5. Arnold Romppai

    I don't know were you live, but that's an important part you have left out, because 3 feet wll not cut it in a lot of places in the world, I can tell you 3 feet deep were I am would be a disaster the next spring, as the frost would put everyone one of those 3 foot deep posts an keys right up out of the ground and all posts will be leaning over, you have to take in to account were you live and most important your frost line, were I am I need to be below the frost line witch is 4 feet, so knowing the ground is going to freeze solid to almost 4 feet down were snow is not removed, were snow is removed and lots of traffic we know its going to drive that frost down even deeper, witch mean the posts in those areas have to be even deeper yet, like 6 feet deep or dig the top of the dirt off in a 3×3" area and lay 2 inch close cell foam around the post and back fill the foam minimum  6 inch's deep to stop the frost from driving down, it your crossing your drive way or any other well travelled area were you are running your well water lines or hot water lines to buildings from your out door wood furnace you want these lines down 6 feet deep were I am and were your drive way is that lines cross you want 3" x24" wide close cell foam layer on top of your well line, hot water lines you want your feed an return lines wrapped in 2: boiler insulation 22 inch long strip wrapped just snug around your 2 lines starting with 1 wrap around your feed line first then wrap the 2 together with the remaining of that 22 inch strip of boiler insulation and pulled inside a 6 inch weeping tile will no holes in it and all joints sealed well so no water can enter it, as water is the biggest rob of heat, were it crosses your drive way these hot water lines stay at 6 feet deep but lay 3"x 24 inch wide close cell foam on top of the weeping tile, you will have zero heat loss to the ground saving you a lot of wood an refilling the fire box, so many spend all that money and time doing these kind of jobs and not thinking things though and later wondering why there fence posts are popping and you furnace is eating 20 cords of wood or more per winter for a 1500 sq foot home, well your heating Canada not just your house you fools, I see it all the times when I go to install a new outdoor furnace, if your return water temp is more then 5 deg, colder then your feed you didn't do it right, I love these how to videos miss lead thousands of people by not saying were they live and to take your area frost lines in to account, nop they don't even bring it up, and it ends up costing the people that watched your so called how to videos,, lissom people do not do and of these kind of how to jobs with out taking frost depth of your area into account, these people are horribly miss leading you and it will cost you thousands in the end if you don't

  6. CL129

    Awesome video. Would you recommend this techinque on just corner posts? Any tips on just the regular post digging? Thank you for posting your video. Simple, do it yourself and informative, what America needs more of!

  7. Adam Lans

    Ar you not concerned about rot? Even treated lumber rots. What do you think of the idea of including gravel at the bottom where there is end grain is, or putting poly plastic over the post in the ground?

  8. Jeff Campbell

    Love it. It wouldn't work for us in Texas because everything is rock and you have to drill into the earth, but in northern Michigan where the soil is a sandy loam, this would be great.

  9. Arkyhomesteader

    Ha! here in AR I dig with a PHD till I hit solid rock about a foot if lucky I have a portable generator that runs a big hammer drill. Then I drill a one inch hole in the rock 24" deep then I pour about 4" black powder down the hole and drop a wire into it then a little more powder then pack in dirt to fill the drill hole. I run the wire back to a safe distance away maybe 100' touch the wire to a ATV battery and BOOM! makes a good post hole but you probably should have a hard hat on😊

  10. Gerald Basford

    You just made my day.I actually lost sleep about that.You have my deep appreciation for the reply.I'm a retired construction worker and a suckered for any little creature that needs love.Have a great day.You are on my favorite list for sure.

  11. john mullarkey

    adding rocks as you backfill & tamp the backfill with digging bar will make it better & is easier than doing the 2×4 thing

  12. undeserved

    always used 3 inch cinder block caps learned this when still a kid from my grandfather many years ago and bet the caps are still there even if post rotted and gone

  13. Jeremo Brown

    Start 7:42 to see he uses their board instead of concrete just by $2. Bag of concrete I learn spend spend $2 because my time is worth more than $2 going to the aggravation you just did

  14. Bench Racing

    8:46         TIME                                                           ?

  15. txtpqb

    have done the wedge idea before in sandy loam but in this black clay of NE Texas, I can see it loosening up pretty quickly. just saying.

  16. Tom Olorin

    Great tip, thanks. If you scorch the timber that's going to be in contact with the ground with a torch (or just do it over a fire), the surface will turn to carbon and the post will never erode or rot. Nothing eats pure carbon, so not even soil bacteria or fungus will eat through it.

  17. Hayden Higdon

    I wish I would have watched this video sooner. I think I can still use your advice though. Excellent video. To the point without a lot of nonsense. I'm going to check out all of your videos now.

  18. Anthony Sinclair

    Thing of beauty , and with that big surface of the 2×4 giving resistance against of the wire pull I'd imagine that would be way better than concrete! Cheaper too! 👌

  19. Ecospider5

    I have to move some posts I put in this way 15 years ago. I just put in a lag bolt close to the ground and pull up on that with a hydraulic car jack. Man I’m glad I didn’t use concrete.

  20. colin crisp

    COOL Ill remember that I just got burnt out and will be starting from scratch Not much cash so this will help   CHEERS   FROM OZ

  21. M.D. Rofarm

    Use a creosote post. Those pressure treated posts will be rotten in 10 years. For a while we could not get creosote posts so we used pressure treated. One day the fence was slack and a post was leaning. Shook it and it was rotten. Checked the other corners and they were rotten right under the surface. They had been in the ground 10 years. Replaced with 5 inch pipe. Never going anywhere now! I have a hydraulic post driver and its the best thing for driving steel corner posts and even creosote line posts. We replace a lot of fence that was built in the 60's several years ago and my dad used some electrical poles that snapped off in a storm. Yes they were free but I am going to have to replace them. My dad said those poles would last longer than he would. I told him the other day that he was wrong. He's 90 and outlived the posts. I do believe the steel will outlive me though.

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