A couple of projects I recently completed for my wife's garden gave me the opportunity to test some new ideas for setting posts. One idea is Post Up!, a manufactured metal post anchor. The other was my own idea, based on the principle of "driving" rather than digging the post hole. Both methods, I am happy to report, work well.
Post Up! is a sturdy stamped steel stake with a cruciform cross section and a socket at the top to accept any 4-by-4 post. It comes in three lengths. The 18-incher is for short or temporary posts. The 24-inch version is used for normal applications, and a 30-incher gives extra stability. I used the 24-incher to set a 6-foot post for a large English-styled dovecote and it seems to be well up to the task.
To use the Post Up!, you simply drive it into the ground with a heavy sledge. The anchor comes with a short length of 4-by-4 that sits in the post socket to provide a pounding surface so you don't have to pound on and damage the Post Up! itself.
Every few knocks with the sledge, stop and check the anchor with a level to see that you are driving it in straight. If not, knock things back in line and continue. I had my Post Up! set and plumb in about a minute.
The socket at the top of the anchor has two wedge-action corner clamps designed to pull it up tight around any 4-by-4 post. But because the actual size of real-world posts varies, you may not get the snug fit you are looking for.
That happened in my case, so I cut a couple of thin shims from a scrap of pressure-treated pine and slipped them into the socket along with the post before I tightened up the clamps. The actual tightening takes a few taps of a hammer. The socket also comes pre-punched so you can nail the post in place if you like, but I didn't bother.
Post Up! comes with a baked-on black enamel finish but you can paint it to match your post if you like. It is guaranteed for 25 years and produced by the Gordon Corp., P.O. Box 1040, Southington, Conn. 06489. I bought mine at my local lumber yard.
Driving Pilot Holes. This is the technique I used to set the four 2-by-4 posts of an arched rose arbor. It turned out to be much easier and faster than digging holes.
All I did was place the arbor in position on the ground to mark the location of the four posts. Then I moved the arbor out of the way and took a 4-foot piece of 4-by-4 and sharpened the tip by cutting it to a pyramid shape with a saw. This formed my hole-driving tool.
To use it, I placed it in position and pounded it into the ground with a heavy sledge. Every six inches or so I would rock the tool around to loosen it and enlarge the hole slightly. Then I'd knock it in another six inches or so and repeat. When I got down 18 inches I pulled the tool out and started another hole.
By the time I got about halfway through the second hole, the top of the tool started to splinter from the impact of the sledge. So I cut off about six inches and chamfered the top. That solved the splitting problem for the rest of the job.
When all four holes were driven I moved the arbor into position and dropped the four posts down into their holes. After checking to see that the arbor was plumb I poured pea gravel into the holes to fill in the extra space around each post, tamped it down firmly and the job was finished.
Los Angeles Times Syndicate