Chain link fences are an excellent way to provide a physical barrier at a low cost. Traditionally, chain link fences are held in place by buried posts surrounded in concrete. However, it is possible to install a chain link fence without concrete. With a hole that is the proper size, either gravel or a polymer backfill can keep fence posts in place for many years.
The composition of your soil plays a tremendous role in determining whether your fence will stand without concrete. Soil that is heavy in clay tends to expand and contract a great deal as moisture changes, which can mean your fence posts will move and shift over time. Sandier soil may be better for buried fence posts that are not held in place by concrete.
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Opting away from concrete can save you money on materials and rental of applicable tools. However, you may need to purchase backfill to properly fill in the area around the fence posts in their holes. Regardless of the backfill you choose or is required for your fence or soil type, the cost of fence installation may be similar.
Installation of a chain link fence without concrete is not different from any other installation, aside from the setting of the fence posts. If you decide to move forward without concrete, use a post-hole digger to make holes for your fence posts. The holes should be at least 2 feet deep, or a third of the height of the fence. Gently insert the fence posts into the holes, but don't pound them as this can lead to bending. Use backfill to fill in the hole, keeping the posts firmly in place.
To backfill the holes for your fence posts, you can use a variety of materials. For clay-type soil, gravel is ideal, but won't work as well for backfill in loose or sandy soil. This is because it permits water drainage around the posts.
To set posts in gravel, bury one-third of the post and surround it with 5 inches of gravel. Push the gravel down firmly around the post and add another 5 inches.
Polymer backfills, such as Secure Set, are high-density polyurethane foams specifically designed to set posts without a need for concrete. When using this sort of material, you will not need gravel or other water drainage material. If you are in an area that experiences frost heave, you can use these products in combination with a post hole shaped like a bell to prevent seasonal shifting of your fence posts.
To set posts in this sort of polymer backfill, dig a hole twice the size of your post's width. The depth of the hole should be at least a third of the length of the post.