Step 1: Dig the first posthole

digging a posthole for a picket fence
Photo: Kolin Smith
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At the first post location, dig a straight-sided 10-inch-diameter hole as deep as possible with a shovel. Watch out for wires, pipes drains, and sprinkler lines.

Finish excavating to 32 inches deep with a Gibbs posthole digger, which can maintain a 10-inch hole diameter all the way down.

Use a digging bar to loosen rocks and cut roots; discard any rocks larger than a billiard ball.

Tip: Spread a tarp to catch excavated soil.

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    Tools List

    • four-foot level
      Level
    • post hole digger
      Gibbs posthole digger,
      for digging 10-inch-wide holes 32 inches deep
    • mason's line
      Mason's line
    • seven-foot tamping bar
      7-foot tamping bar (or a 6-foot 2x4
    • pointed shovel
      Shovel
    • 7 foot digging bar
      7-foot digging bar,
      use flat end to cut roots; pointed end to pry out rocks
    • drill
      Drill/driver,
      for screwing through posts into rails
    • circular saw
      Circular saw,
      for trimming posts and panels, if necessary
    • tarp
      Tarp,
      to hold soil dug from postholes
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure

    Shopping List

    1. FENCING

    2. FENCE POSTS

    3. 2 1/2-INCH GALVANIZED SCREWS

    for attaching fence rails to posts



    4. WOOD WEDGES FOR PROPPING PANELS IN A LEVEL POSITION