Best way to install fence posts at a community garden I volunteer at where concrete is not allowed, and the water table is about 10 inches down and constantly fills the holes with water? : HomeImprovement


I have been volunteering at some local community gardens. Its a lot of fun and there are tons of Gardners who are older and unable to do a lot of the physical work so I have been helping out.

The main thing I have been helping them with is replacing the fences between gardens. The fences are very important to keep out animals and keep people from stealing from the gardens which is a huge issue. As a rule, concrete is not allowed at all as it would hurt the plants, and the older residents would never be able to remove it later on.

I was taught the “proper” way they recommend installing fences, but it is really frustrating and still leads to wobbly supports, so I wanted to ask if there is a better way. Currently we will use clam shell post hole diggers to dig down anywhere from 24-36 inches down into the soil. After digging down around 10 inches the bottom of the hole starts to fill with water and by the time you get to 28 inches or more the hole is full of water up to about the 10 inches down point, so up to 20 inches of water. Then, we will take a 8 foot 4×4 and put it in the hole, making sure the pole is straight with a level. Then we will start to fill the hole with sand, but because the holes are so full of water the sand raises the water level and sinks to the bottom, bringing the water level all the way up to the top of the hole. We will try and put about 6-10 inches of sand and tamp it down with a tamping tool, but mostly the pole just sinks into the mug mixture at the bottom. Then I will try and add the soil back that we took out and tamp it down, but again it will turn into a mud and the tool just sinks in, barely compacting it. I try and push more and more soil in till the mug gets pretty thick, but that is the best I can do and we usually leave it there.

Here is what finished fence posts look like with this method.

Is there a better way to do this? Should I try and get a hand water pump to get the water out? When I try and scoop it out it very quickly refills, but maybe I can try and quickly fill it after pumping? Also, should we use something other than Sand like gravel? Also, what kind of wood should we use? Is there a wood that would last longer in the ground with how wet this soil is so they don’t have to be replaced so often?

Thank you for any suggestions!

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