how to extreme

Build a Shadowbox Privacy Fence

Construction How-To, Fences, Fencing, Outdoor Living May 1, 2009 Matt Weber


Setting the Posts

A good rule of thumb is to dig the holes for fence posts deep enough to bury 1/3 the overall height of the posts (2 feet deep at a minimum). Dig deep enough to set the post below the frost line, which will help prevent frost heaving. Additionally, dig an extra 4 to 6 inches deeper than the desired depth of the post to place a bed of gravel beneath the post for drainage. Sounds like a lot of digging, right? It is.

Set the corner posts first, string a new line between to line-up the other posts.

Set the corner posts first, string a new line between to line-up the other posts.

A traditional way to dig a post hole is with a manual clamshell digger and a trench shovel. These are tried and true tools, but if using them, expect to spend many hours, days or even weeks digging your holes, depending on the size of your fence.

Fill each post hole with 4" to 6" of gravel to allow drainage.

Fill each post hole with 4″ to 6″ of gravel to allow drainage.

To speed up the digging process, I highly recommend renting a gas-powered auger and recruiting another worker to help steer it. Note: Although, “one-man augers” are available to rent, my experience is these “one-man” models are nothing more than smaller, poorly designed machines that still require a second worker to control—and awkwardly, at that. The two-man models are primo, though, and with the help of a friend we had the holes completed in a single afternoon.

A Post-Pod (cepcotool.com) is helpful for a one-man installation.

A Post-Pod (cepcotool.com) is helpful for a one-man installation.

While digging, we were also soaking the base of the posts in water sealer. The best method to do this is to use a tall bucket and place about 4 posts upright in the bucket at once. Their mass displaces the water, which rises to the top of the bucket, soaking the bottoms of the posts. After soaking for about an hour, we would rotate four new posts into the bucket to soak.