Fence Posts In Shallow Holes?

We want to build a small wood fence between our house and detached garage. It will be 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide, and will include a 3 foot wide gate.
The problem is supporting the fence posts so the gate will be sturdy and not have the fence wobbling around.
I can only dig down about a foot or so because we have water, power, and drainage pipes running between the two buildings.
I'm thinking of digging a hole 12" deep, filling it with concrete, and setting in one of those metal posts used for chain link fencing. I would then box that in with wood to give the appearance of a wood post, and provide easier mounting of the fence boards, gate hardware, etc.
Will this work and/or are their other options I might be able to use?
Thanks,
Anthony
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HerHusband wrote:

Try this:
You need: 3 2" x 6' threaded pipes. 1 2" T-fitting
Assemble the above in the only way you can. Dig a trench as deep as you can, 12 feet long, centered on where you want the post to be and perpendicular to the fence. Center this T-thing in the trench. Fill the trench with concrete. Attach your faux post securely to the 2" upright pipe.
If THIS thing blows over, you'll be having other, more serious, problems anyway.
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What is the wind like between the house and garage? My guess is that 12" deep would not be deep enough to support a gate that is 6 feet high even without wind. 2 feet would be better. But since you have piping and electrical there, how about supporting the post from the back side?
Wayne

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<< I can only dig down about a foot or so because we have water, power, and drainage pipes running between the two buildings. >>
Call the appropriate utilities to mark the lines and then simply dig carefully by hand. People do this all the time with acceptable results. If you are not comfortable doing this, then budget a fewmore $$ and have regular fence company do it. Be sure to let them know in advance of the utility locations and don't let the crew proceed without the marking flags and spray paint line locations in place. HTH
Joe
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Where are you located and what's the climate like? Tropic, moderate, arctic, etc.
Are those runs parallel to or perpindicular to the planned fence line?
Who put them there? You? Previous owner?
What is the pipe? Metal? Plastic? None? IN other words, what encases the plumbing/electrical that's down there? Or is it all utility supplied?
There ARE ways, but ... I feel sure your present plan can't work; you'll be constantly resetting the fence every time there's a little weather; rain, wind, people leaning, gate too heavy, etc etc. I saw a question about which way the wind comes from, but that's not the only thing to consider. As wind moves off center (to the side of full on), it will begin funnelling between any obstructions, such as house/garage. whatever. A 20 mpg wind can easily approach 40 mph if conditions go just right. Even with chain link, there's en ough area there to be affectd by the wind.
Some of the other approaches are simple though, if the above questions are known in puts. Have you tried searching Google for shallow-dug fencing? Sometimes it takes a zig-zag pattern for the posts at worst, but it IS not hard to do, once the appropriate method has been decided.
Pop
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HerHusband wrote:

I'd give your plan a score of 0.02 on a 1-10 scale. It is almost sure to fail. normally at lest 1/3 of the post should be under ground. (depends on local conditions etc.).
There are ways of doing it right. You local professional should be able to do it, or you can call the utilities and most will do a good job of mapping out the utilities and then you dig very carefully. Remember that if they say 2 feet, that means anything between 6 inches and 6 foot.
Did I say dig carefully? I hope so, I once went through a gas line. That was exciting! :-)
Oh yea, one last thing. Dig carefully.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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My neighbor decided to put up a basketball hoop in his driveway. The place he decided to put it was along the edge of his driveway where it butted up against mine. He dug the hold, put in the pole and thought all was fine. Well, it was for him. A year or two later MY driveway blew up.
It wasn't really all that dramatic, but it could have been. The only thing that actually blew up was the cover for my cable tv lead from the street (one of those green plastic covers about a foot across). It blew it about 50 yards away and I am told that there was a flame about 6 feet high coming out of the hole for about minute or two.
PG&E came out and probed around for a while. The stuck this gas sensing probe down in the ground and found natural gas all over the place. The only thing they could do was to dig up part of my driveway because that is where the thing blew. That side of my house has a driveway that was about 20 feet wide and 40 feet long with a very nice smooth broom finish. Naturally, they had to dig right about the middle of it. Shit! Come to find out that the concrete that my neighbor poured for his basketball pole was only about 1/4 inch from a gas line and the movement of the pole caused the sand to rub a hole in it. It just took it a few years to wear through it.
So while PG&E was repairing the gas line they also had to disconnect the electrical from his house. They (PG&E) ran a temporary electrical feed from my box to his house and he just had to do without gas for a while. When they were done, PG&E poured new concrete and finished it to match the rest. The neigbor's *&^$# dog walked on it so the neighbor came out and coarse broomed it. DAMN IT!!!
Wayne

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How about this? Dig a trench one foot by two feet or more wide where you want the fence, then pour cement in it. Either place metal pipes in the cement or drill it later and fasten the posts to it. That should hold.
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Dick Wells wrote:

Not in a wind with a six foot tall fence and a three foot wide gate.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Just thinking outside the box here. Your plan sounds like you are looking at 4 posts, garage and house for one each plus 2 for the gate if you are going to center the gate. That will only leave 2 1/2 foot fence wings to each side. A lot of posts for such a small stretch. How about making two 4 ft gates and swinging them from the garage and house respectively? No posts, no digging. As for the utilities, I would bet they run right down the middle of the passageway and thus be clear of any posts.
Harry K
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Harry,

Excellent idea, Thanks!
I was already planning on attaching the gate to the garage. I didn't think there was any way to get a post secure enough to hold a gate. I was then going to attach the remaining 5 foot fence to the house on one end, and the single post in the middle (with maybe an additional post midspan for additional support).
In any case, your double gate idea might be a better option. It would solve the post problems, as well as allowing the whole opening to open up if I need to pass something wide through there. All I would need is a way to hold the gates securely in the middle.

Although the main power and water run down the middle of the passageway, there are bends turning towards each building, "offshoots" for phone and water, and some cables running between buildings. This doesn't include the 4" foundation drains running along the footings of each building. Essentially, there are pipes and wires running all over the place in that area. :) So, it would be tricky to try and strategically place a fence post where I need it.
The one given is that they're all buried at least two feet deep.
Wayne,

Fairly mild. We live in a heavily wooded area, which blocks most of the wind.

As I mentioned above, my plan has always been to hang the gate from the garage wall. The post would only need to support the fence and the gate banging into it. :)

Thought about that, but the area behind the fence is going to be a usable space. This prevents any kind of bracing on that side. Bracing from the front is also not an option.
One option I did consider was running a "support" beam between the garage and the house, attached to the building at each end. The top of the posts would then attach to the cross beam, holding them securely in place. I'm sure it would provide plenty of strength, but I would have to develop a detail to make it look good visually. Perhaps a series of cross boards to make a simple "trellis". I just haven't decided whether I want that look or not.
JerryMouse,

Another good idea. Thanks. Because of a sidewalk between the house and garage I couldn't go the full 6 feet in each direction, but could probably scale it back a bit and make it work.
Thanks!
Anthony
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Well then. It sounds like you have two good suggestions.
1. Attach both to the house/garage with wider gates. Good idea but I would suggest looking into terminte protection for the structures. Maybe just use steel posts and hang the gates from them. I hear termites don't really care for steel too much. :-) As for a closing mechanism you could simply put some brackets along the upper part of the gate that would hold a 2x4 that spanned both gates. That would hold the gates securely and keep them straight for appearance.
2. Construct a "T" that attaches to the bottom of posts and spreads out under the surface. Should give you adequate support for fence and gates, and more flexibility for post placement.
Wayne

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