A quick guide: How to plant a pole for a wooden fence (and other structures)
This blog post gives you tips on planting a wooden pole, be it fence posts for a wooden fence, a jungle gym, electricity poles or telecommunication lines.
Imagine that you want to build a wooden fence around your vegetable garden. All you need to do is plant a number of fence posts into the ground, connect them with wire fencing or wooden slats, and “Ta-Da!” No more goats eating your carrots just before they are ready for harvesting.
Planting a wooden pole, or a couple, sounds like an easy enough task. You buy a wooden pole, or a couple. You dig a hole into the ground. Then you place the pole into the hole. Throw soil back into the hole around the pole. Compact the soil. That’s it. Easy, right?
Except if you’ve ever actually tried to plant a pole, you will know that it is never that easy.
Many things can go wrong. In fact, it might be life-saving to plant a wooden pole correctly. If you are building a jungle gym, for example, not planting a pole properly could result in serious accidents.
But don’t worry. That’s why we wrote this blog post: to make sure that when you plant a wooden pole, you do it right! Whether you are building a wooden fence or trying to do justice to a beautiful house design in South Africa, our poles have got your back.
Purchasing a wooden pole
The process of planting a wooden pole begins long before digging a hole or placing the pole into the ground. The first step is buying the correct pole. This step involves answering several questions:
Which pole size do I need?
Knowing your required pole size before purchase is very important. All our wooden poles are treated to make them last longer. The treatment process involves impregnating wood with chemicals that protect the wood. If the wood is cut again after the treatment process, the inner layers of the wood (which are not impregnated with the chemicals) are exposed and leave the wood susceptible to damage from insects and other environmental conditions. It is therefore a good idea to order your wood in the exact sizes that you need before treatment.
For example, if you are building a wooden fence, you should know how high the fence should be and how thick the poles should be.
Which wood treatment would be best?
All our wood is pressure treated using one of two chemicals: creosote or CCA. Each chemical has advantages and disadvantages in specific conditions.
Creosote for example has a relatively strong smell, which would not be ideal for the construction of a jungle gym (at least the parts of the jungle gym that children come into direct contact with!).
In which environment will my poles be planted?
Different environments exert different levels of pressure and wear on wood. A wet and highly saline environment, for example, affects wood differently than a dry, very hot environment.
If you are working on a house design in South Africa for example, you should consider the climate of the area. These factors include the average summer and winter temperatures, when and how much it rains, and the soil conditions in a specific area.
We use Hazard Classes to classify wood into the levels of treatment required in a specific environment. Each wooden pole has a marker at the end which indicates the Hazard Class Symbol of the treated timber.
You can learn more about treatment levels and the different Hazard Classes our Products page.
Contact us for assistance
Only once you have answered these questions will you be able to purchase the correct wooden poles for planting.
Once you have the correct timber, you can plant it. When planting a pole, consider the following points:
Ensure that the post is inserted deep enough into the ground to avoid toppling over. If you are building a wooden fence and using wire fencing between the fence posts, test that the pole is deep enough in the ground that when you connect the wire fencing it does not fall over. In this way you can avoid having to re-plant all the poles if you realize they need to be deeper.
When compacting the soil around the pole, make sure that it is compact enough that the soil will stay in place even when it rains.
It is essential to allow for the drainage of rainwater through the timber when a treated pole is planted in the ground. This is why you should never enclose the planted end of a post in concrete.
If you have to use concrete to plant a pole (for example if the soil is very sandy or the area is known to experience high erosion rates), allow the concrete to form a collar around the post. The end of the post should protrude through the concrete. See the below image for clarity.