Back in January we cut down the cedar trees to build our trellis system. This past weekend it was time to get them standing again.
John rented an auger to help dig the holes needed to place each post. The auger worked great when we weren’t hitting large rocks, tree roots, or to our surprise, a suspicious metal barrier, later determined to be an old chicken coop buried on the far southern section of the field some time ago. Each time an object impeded the 12-inch blade, a manual search and remove tactic was employed. Each hole took as little as sixty seconds to dig when simply dirt and small rocks were in the blade’s path, to as much as 15-20 minutes otherwise. The auger got us down about 30 inches, so in order to reach our 3-foot minimum the last half foot was dug the old fashion way.
The cedar posts ranged from just under 16 feet to over 20 feet in length. We decided that 14 feet above ground would be our height limit so the posts were trimmed to those specs. Not only were the lengths not uniform, but because we didn’t purchase these posts from a timber yard, their sturdiness differed as well. I’d say the average diameter at the base was about 6 inches, but some tapered off a bit more than others. We took what appeared to be the strongest posts and used those at the ends of each row; the remainder were used in the middle.
Tamp, tamp, tamp-a-roo. Each hole was lined with about 2 inches of gravel before placing the post in. The clay displaced from the auger was mixed with more gravel and then filled back in the hole about 6 or so inches at a time, tamping the clay/gravel mix down at each increment, while attempting to keep the post level. Even with three people tamping in sync and one trying to keep things level, this was the most time consuming part of the process.
Our planting area consists of 5 rows, each 120 feet long. Post spacing within the row is 40 feet (rows are 10 feet apart). So when we finally tamped that twentieth post in the ground as the sun was setting, it was nice to step back and see that this project was truly taking shape.
Unfortunately, the following day was a rain out. We attempted to use the auger to dig our anchor post holes, but it was not going to happen. With the auger needing to be returned and day jobs to be attended, it looks like we will be breaking out the post hole diggers next weekend.