Top 3 Ways To Set a Post Without Concrete


Sometimes you want to be able to set a post without having to go to the store and buy concrete.

And you can do that just by using items you will find around your yard or in your shed.

Your different options for setting a fence post without concrete are earth, gravel, or gravel and cleats.

Read on to find out the option I prefer to use that does not involve concrete.

Why not concrete

Concrete is great for setting your post in the ground and making it secure for quite some time.

It is relatively easy to do as well.

Read this article to find the steps to set your post in concrete.

But setting your post in concrete can also cause you some problems.

Concrete could cause your post to rot depending on the area in which you live and the amount of moisture you receive.

If you have ever spent some time in a tent, you know after some time being in the tent, it begins to gather moisture on the inside.

The same happens to your post.

The concrete acts like the tent in this situation and any moisture up against the post will stay there for some time.

This eventually leads to your post rotting and you having to replace it after a few years.

Some people have reported their post rotted out within 6 years of setting it.

Others have reported it happening sooner.

This is typically know as “collar rot”.

So concrete may the easiest solution to setting your post, but it does have it downsides.

Why Earth

The easiest resource you will have when setting the post is the earth you pull out from the hole you are digging.

Once you have the post set where you want it, you will just be putting the dirt back into the hole.

Of course, there are some specific things you do with the dirt when you put it back in the hole but we will cover that later in this article.

Using the dirt makes it so you do not have to buy any additional items to set the post, so it is a good option for last second decisions if you do not have the resources to purchase additional items, or you have a lot of posts that you need to set.

How to set your post with just earth

Here are the steps you will follow for setting your post using only dirt:

  1. Dig your hole using an auger. The hole should be one-third of the length of the post. So if you want a post 5 feet above the ground, the hole should be 3 feet deep and the post 8 feet long. Once the hole is dug, use a post hole digger to shovel out the dirt and place it on a tarp right next to the hole. This will make it easier for you to use the dirt later.
  2. Place a boulder into the bottom of the hole, as flat as can be. This rock will be the base of the post and help keep it sturdy.
  3. Place your post and attach two-by-fours on perpendicular sides of the post and have the ends of the two-by-fours fall to the ground. These two-by-fours will stabilize the post.
  4. Put a layer of dirt into the hole. Use a two-by-four to push down and compact the dirt, so it becomes more sturdy in the hole. Attach the level to the post and check to make sure that the post is level with the ground.
  5. Repeat step 4 until you have filled up the hole to the top. Make sure to check the level each time, as the closer to the top you get, the harder it will be to adjust.
  6. Then you are done.

Why gravel

Gravel is going to get you a more sturdy base than just dirt.

With the gravel, you also include dirt, which will give it a nice strong base, with very little movement.

Once you have put in the gravel, you will want to make sure that your post is where you like it, or you will not be able to move the post later.

You can possibly find gravel around your ward, in your area for relatively cheap or the local rock quarry.

How to set your post with just gravel

The directions for using just gravel will be much like using just earth, with a few slight variations:

  1. Dig your hole using an auger. The hole should be one-third of the length of the post. So if you want a post 5 feet above the ground, the hole should be 3 feet deep and the post 8 feet long. Once the hole is dug, use a post hole digger to shovel out the dirt and place it on a tarp right next to the hole. This will make it easier for you to use some of the dirt later.
  2. Place a boulder into the bottom of the hole, as flat as can be. This rock will be the base of the post and help keep it sturdy.
  3. Place your post and attach two-by-fours on perpendicular sides of the post and have the ends of the two-by-fours fall to the ground. These two-by-fours will stabilize the post.
  4. Put a layer of gravel two to four inches worth into the hole. Attach the level to the post and check to make sure that the post is level with the ground.
  5. Repeat step 4 until you have filled up the hole close to the top. Make sure to check the level each time, as the closer to the top you get, the harder it will be to adjust.
  6. Once you have filled the hole with gravel, start shoveling in some of the dirt to fill in the spaces between the gravel and pack it down with a two-by-four. This will compact the gravel and give you a really sturdy base to work with. Keep filling with dirt until you have filled all the spaces in.
  7. Then you are done.

Why gravel and cleats

Gravel and cleats are going to be a little more work for you, but will probably be the most stable of all three solutions.

The cleats are built using one-by-fours or two-by-fours, cutting them 4 to 6 inches longer than the width of your post, and then attaching them to the bottom of the post.

Once you have attached the one-by-fours or two-by-fours, you then put gravel and dirt into the hole to make a nice and sturdy base.

How to set your post with gravel and cleats

Using gravel and cleats will likely give you the most sturdy base of all the non-concrete options, but that also means that it is going to take a little more work to do.

Hopefully you find the extra work to be worth it.

  1. Dig your hole using an auger. The hole should be one-third of the length of the post. So if you want a post 5 feet above the ground, the hole should be 3 feet deep and the post 8 feet long. Once the hole is dug, use a post hole digger to shovel out the dirt and place it on a tarp right next to the hole. This will make it easier for you to use the dirt later.
  2. Place a boulder into the bottom of the hole, as flat as could be. This rock will be the base of the post and help keep it sturdy.
  3. Cut a few two-by-fours a few inches wider than the width of the post. For example, if your post is two-by-two, cut a two-by-four four inches long. Next, you will want to attach two of these cut pieces to the sides of the post at the bottom. They will be attached on parallel sides using either two screws or two nails. Then, just above where you attached the first two two-by-fours, you will attach another trimmed two-by-four on the perpendicular side. Placing these two-by-fours will stabilize the post for you underground and basically give it a “stand” to stand on underground.
  4. Once you have the two-by-fours attached to the base of the post, place your post and attach two-by-fours on perpendicular sides of the post and have the ends of the two-by-fours fall to the ground. These two-by-fours will stabilize the post.
  5. Put a layer of gravel into the hole. Attach the level to the post and check to make sure that the post is level with the ground and adjust accordingly.
  6. Repeat step 5 until you have filled up the hole close to the top. Make sure to check the level each time, as the closer to the top you get, the harder it will be to adjust.
  7. Fill in the gaps with dirt from your tarp until there are no gaps left.
  8. Then you are done.

Summary

You have many options to set a post without concrete.

Setting with dirt allows you to set the post without having to purchase any additional items, but is not as sturdy as other options.

Setting with gravel gives you a nice base.

Setting with gravel and cleats gives you the best base, but also takes the most work.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

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