Step 4: Fill the posthole with concrete

Filling the posthole with concrete, for footing.
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Mix a batch of concrete in a trough or wheelbarrow, one bag at a time. Keep the mix stiff (not too much water) to help support the post and shorten the set time. The concrete should hold its shape, but jiggle a little when jostled.

Shovel the concrete into the posthole atop the gravel, being careful not to get any into the conduit or on the wires. Fill the hole to grade or just below it, leaving about 6 inches of conduit exposed. Using a concrete float or a piece of scrap wood, smooth the top of the footing.

Tip: Use your shovel to chop gently at the concrete as you fill the hole, which will help eliminate air pockets.
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    Tools List

    • post hole digger
      Posthole digger
    • flathead screwdriver
      Screwdriver
    • trenching spade
      Trenching spade
    • wire strippers
      Wire stripper
    • masonry hoe
      Masonry hoe and wheelbarrow
    • two-foot level
      2-foot level
    • hack saw
      Hacksaw,
      to cut PVC conduit
    • flat blade shovel
      Shovel and concrete float
    • strapping
      Rope or strapping and stakes

    Shopping List

    1. LANTERN

    (the fixture that sits atop the post). Lanterns and posts usually sold separately.



    2. POST

    These come in only a few styles: fluted, not fluted, with or without a crossbar. It's best to order posts from the same manufacturer as your lantern, to ensure that the finishes match.



    3. WIRE

    You'll need enough UF-rated exterior wire to reach from inside the house to the post outside, plus an extra 9 feet to run up through the post. 12-gauge wire will suit both 15-and 20-amp circuits.



    4. CONDUIT

    To meet code for burying wires undergorund, you'll need 3/4-inch "Schedule 40" PVC pipe. Get enough elbows and couplings to make any necessary turns coming out of the house, down to the trench, and up to the post from the ground.



    5. PVC CEMENT

    to adhere the conduit together



    6. 3/4-INCH GRAVEL

    to fill the bottom 6 inches of the posthole



    7. CONCRETE MIX

    Two 80-pound sacks should be enough to creat a 12-inch wide and 16-inch-deep footing.



    8. WIRE NUTS

    to connect the wiring on the lantern. These are color coded by size; yellow should work for 12-gauge wires, but be sure to also check the range of sizes on the packaging.