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How to Install a Fence Post

The foundation of a stable fence are the posts. Here are step-by-step instructions to help you install yours firmly.

Fence along sidewalk with flowers. iStock

Setting a strong foundation for your fence starts with the anchoring down the posts.

How Deep Should a Fence Post Be?

For an average fence post, about 6 to 8 feet tall, prepare to dig a post hole about 2 feet deep. To install a fence post, you’ll need a shovel or post digger, a 6-foot level, soil, and gravel or crushed stone. For gateposts, you’ll need concrete too.

How to Install a Fence Post in 5 Steps

Diagram showing parts of a fence post installation including packed soil, concrete, and crushed stone. Rodica Prato
  1. Begin by digging the post holes with a shovel or posthole digger.
  2. Space holes between 6 to 8 feet on center and, for most picket or lattice fences, dig them 24 to 30 inches deep.
  3. Set posts on a 6-inch base of ¾-inch crushed stone to encourage drainage.
  4. Then fill around posts with the soil from the holes, minus the topsoil, and packs it down every 6 inches.
  5. In sandy soil, mix in gravel so that it will pack more firmly. In clay soil, which doesn’t drain well, pack only gravel around posts.

Should Fence Posts Be Set in Concrete?

You’ll need to pour a concrete footing only for posts that support a gate, are freestanding at the end of the fence, or when rock stops you from digging deep enough, one-third of the post’s length.

Concrete is costly—each post requires two or three $5 bags—and slow, as posts must be braced until the concrete sets.

Tools You’ll Need