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
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?
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
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?
<< 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
Where are you located and what's the climate like? Tropic,
moderate, arctic, etc.
Are those runs parallel to or perpindicular to the planned
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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
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.
Fairly mild. We live in a heavily wooded area, which blocks most of the
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
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.
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.
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