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Many people choose to build their own fences as a DIY project, but there are some difficulties to consider before deciding. Doing it yourself will save some money in labor costs, but installing the fence correctly requires a lot of meticulous planning and hard labor. One consideration is whether the chain-link fence should touch the ground? We've reviewed the best-practice methods for installing a chain-link fence to get the answer for you.
Generally, it is not recommended for a chain-link fence to touch the ground. Ground contact makes the bottom of the fence more vulnerable to corrosion. It can also make yard maintenance more difficult. However, exceptions depend upon the purpose of the fence. The fence touching the ground can prevent rodents and other small animals from getting inside for garden areas. Pet owners can also benefit from installing the fence this way, as having it touching the ground can deter small-breed dogs and other pets from digging underneath it.
Now that you know you can determine whether or not to allow the chain-link fence to touch the ground, think about the purpose of the fence. As you decide how to install the fence, read on to learn how to dig-in fence posts and tighten the chain-link mesh to secure your fence.
Plan Ahead For DIY Fence Installation
Before digging, you must first observe your local zoning laws and check with the Homeowner’s Association to ensure your fence legally falls within their guidelines. You will also need to contact your local utility companies to conduct a free survey of your property to mark any buried utility lines. It may not be legally required to let your neighbors know beforehand, but doing so is considered a common courtesy. Following these steps before digging that first hole can save you a lot of hassle later.
The weather should also be considered before building, as rain and other inclement weather can affect the concrete setting. Exceptionally hot or cool temperatures can also affect the fencing materials by causing swelling or contraction. Ideally, it is best to install the fence on a warm day when no rain has been predicted on the forecast for the next several days.
Once the fence's location has been established, the next step will be to determine exactly how many materials you’ll need. Chain link fence posts are typically spaced no more than ten feet apart. Certain fence sections may also come in unique sizes, and builders may need to modify them accordingly so they’ll fit. Knowing how long each section is for the type of fence you’re building can also help with better planning for where to dig the posts. You’ll want to account for these inconsistencies before purchasing the materials, and many builders recommend to always measure everything twice for complete accuracy.
How deep should chain link posts be?
Post holes should be set about four inches away from your property line to avoid a potential property dispute. Terminal posts should be buried at least two feet deep, with taller fences going deeper. Some builders recommend burying one-third of the fence post to be safe.
The holes should be dug about three times wider than the diameter of the post. You can then pour in about six inches of gravel around the fence post before topping it off with fast-setting concrete. Repeat the other posts' process and remember when measuring that all of the posts should have the same height from the ground to the top. The concrete must then be given three or four days to cure before putting any weight on the posts.
Do chain link fence posts need concrete?
Alternatively, there are other methods of installing fence posts without concrete.
Using dirt, one option is to use a post-hole digger to make a hole deep enough to accommodate the post. In this case, the hole should be only slightly bigger than the posts so it can be packed as tightly as possible with dirt. Do not try pounding the posts further into the ground, as this could lead to bending. While this method will save money on concrete, it is only recommended for temporary fences meant to be manually removed soon after. Fences set this way will likely see shifting and leaning from the posts over long periods of time.
The holes can also be filled with gravel, although this method is less durable than concrete. It won’t work particularly well in sandier soil and is better used with heavier soils. As with the concrete, about one-third of the fence post should be buried into a hole much wider than the post. Add crushed gravel into the hole about five inches at a time, tamping it down tightly before adding more.
Continue the process until you’ve reached the top of the hole. Optionally, you can leave about two inches of space and top it off with soil if you want to have grass growing around the pole. With this method, you will not need to wait several days for the poles to set as you would with concrete.
Install Tension Bands & Post Caps
In any case, after the posts are set, tension bands will need to be installed onto each corner, gate, and end post. These will be what’s used to hold the mesh in place, and the number you’ll need depends upon the height of the fence. For gate posts, hinges and latch hardware should be placed near where they’ll be installed, and they can be fastened when the mesh is in place.
The post caps will also need to be installed on every post, and this is best achieved using a rubber mallet to hammer them down. Fit the rails into the rail caps at this point, and once they’re installed at the appropriate height, tighten the tension bands and snugly fill all of the line post holes with dirt.
How tight should chain link fence be?
The tightness of the mesh must also be considered. If the fence isn’t tight enough, the mesh will sag over time. Using a fence puller can help stretch the mesh to a state that’s much more secure.
Ideally, you want the mesh loops to move no more than ¼ of an inch when you squeeze them together. During the tightening process, the mesh can be manually reshaped if the fence puller had distorted it. You can secure the tightness of the mesh with a tension bar on the end post. To help prevent animals from pushing through, tension wire can be used on the bottom of the fence.
If the process appears too daunting, it may be better to pay for the peace of mind by having the fence installed professionally. If you’re unsure, spend some time weighing the options before you determine what’s right for you. Ultimately, whether or not your fence touches the ground depends on how you intend to use the fence, as a barrier to wildlife or safe border for pets contact with the ground is okay.