How can I sink a 7ft pole into the ground?
April 27, 2020 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I have a shepherd's hook that I want to hang a bird feeder from. I'd like to sink it three or four feet into the ground but when I push down on goes in less than a foot.

Assuming that I'm not hitting rock, how can I make this happen? We do have quite a bit of rain and I've tried I get it in the ground after a rainy day or two but it still doesn't go down much further. Thank you.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hammer on it? I'm a pretty handy guy, I can't think of any "secret tips".
posted by humboldt32 at 9:06 AM on April 27, 2020

The hook on the top (assuming I'm picturing this correctly) will make it impossible do directly hammer on it, and even if you could the material it's made from might not withstand the force required to drive it that deep. It probably doesn't need to be 3-4' in the ground for strength reasons. If you are just trying to bring the hook closer to ground level, maybe compromise and cut a couple of feet off the bottom?
posted by jon1270 at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2020

Proper tool for the job is a post sinker, but that may not work with a curved, decorative post. You could also drive a pilot hole of sorts with a piece of rebar or a similarly sized wooden dowel, remove it and then sink the post in the rest of the way.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2020 [9 favorites]

3-4 feet seems really deep. If you can't cut it or hammer it then dig a hole to the depth you want stick your hook in it back fill the hole and tamp until you can't tamp no more.
posted by jmsta at 9:13 AM on April 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

You need to get a post-hole digger, or a digger-bar.

3 ft down is... that's a lot of work for something that just needs to hold up a bird feeder. I think when you start digging you might settle for 12-16"!
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:15 AM on April 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

Not thread setting. Just to address a couple of points. It's iron about half inch in diameter with a simple hook on the end and I want to sink it fairly deep to hold a five pound feeder. Thank you.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 9:15 AM on April 27, 2020

You're probably going to need at least an auger, either a handheld or drill-mount (they make really cheap ones just meant to be big enough to plant bulbs, that might work). Depending on the base of the hook (like, is it a three-prong? two? just a post?) you might have to drill a couple of holes, and for stability you might need a teensy bit of concrete or expanding post hole foam.

Obviously if you have a shovel you can just dig a hole and seat the pole and fill it back in, but you will probably still run into stability issues. Maybe with a mallet or something you could better compress the dug-up dirt back into the hole, but I have had a few runs at bird feeder seating and my experience has been that it's kind of a pain unless you're willing to somehow stabilize the pole with guy lines or something for the months it'll take for that ground to really harden back up. One squirrel hitting the post at typical squirrel velocity will leave it angled badly to one side, and wiggly.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:15 AM on April 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

Drill as deep as you can. You can get a 24 inch auger bit for about $25.
Then take a 3ft piece of rebar and pound that as deep as it will go.
Pull out the rebar, put in your feeder.
posted by plinth at 9:17 AM on April 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

Single pole.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 9:17 AM on April 27, 2020

1) attach a needle spray nozzle to a garden hose.
2) lash the last foot of the garden hose to something stiff (for example, a pole you might have handy)
3) boom, instant water excavator
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:18 AM on April 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

Keeping it perfectly plumb will be a big part of the aesthetic appeal, so I'd rent a post hole auger and buy a bag of premixed concrete to fill the bottom ¾ of the hole, place the pole, attach the (full) feeder and adjust it and brace it near(ish) the ground while the concrete sets. Then back fill the top of the hole.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:26 AM on April 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Pounding in rebar is what I would suggest, but be prepared for a struggle to get it back out. Actually, it might be better to use a T-post (they only cost a few dollars) to drive the starter hole since those are easier to lever back out of the ground.

If you want maximum stability and permanence, concrete will work for sure.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:29 AM on April 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Get a piece of pipe around the same size as your pole. Hammer it in about a foot. Pull it out and clean the dirt out of the pipe. Then hammer it in about 1.5 feet. Remove and clear out the dirt. Keep doing this until you get the depth you'd like.
posted by notsnot at 10:04 AM on April 27, 2020 [4 favorites]

I think pounding a 5-foot piece of rebar in would give you a fine pilot hole that your pole would go into pretty easily. I have a crook like that, but I mounted it to a corner of the deck. It has a triangular plate welded on a foot or so from the bottom, presumably so it won't rotate in the ground. Does yours have that? it would make it tough to drive very deep.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2020

Seconding a post hole digger, the most unwieldy named of all digging implements. Digging a deep, narrow hole is exactly what they do. The hole you dig will probably be 6" diameter so you'll have to back fill and tamp it down

If I were doing it, I'd dig down 12-18" with a post digger, then set the crook in concrete. Two reasons for the concrete: 1. stabilty; 2. corrosion resistance. Iron/steel set in the soil will rust out in a few years. Setting it in concrete will make it last decades.
posted by dudemanlives at 12:48 PM on April 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Post hole auger and cement for a 1/2" iron stick? You're getting some unreasonable advice for your simple problem here.

The advice to make a pilot hole with a piece of rebar is really all that should be needed here.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:54 PM on April 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

I do this all the time, the rebar or pipe answer is correct. A post hole digger is massive overkill, those are for setting 4"x4" posts.

Just make sure you pound the pilot bar in straight. Ideally you put in a pipe that is slightly larger than the post itself, add fine soil and sand mix from the top (something that will compact with water) down the pipe and slowly withdraw the pipe as the hole fills from the bottom. I recommend filling the hole and pulling the pipe in stages and bracing it straight for a few weeks to make sure it stays that way
posted by fshgrl at 12:58 PM on April 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd do the pipe thing, but choose a pipe that was just big enough on the inside that the pole would fit inside. Once you get it down and clear enough, pound it all the way flush to the ground and then put the pole in it. Now you can take out the pole if you really need to.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:28 PM on April 27, 2020 [5 favorites]

Someone above has said that augering a hole is overkill but I stand by it as a suggestion because driving a rebar or pipe into the ground is one thing...pulling it out again is a great way to fuck up your back.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:26 PM on April 27, 2020

What is the soil like in your area? Here I'd just grab my garden hose and use water to erode a hole barely larger than hose for the crook to drop into. If the crook is loose in the hole you can tamp the top of the hole with a hammer. But this will only work if you don't have a lot of large rocks. If your hose is too floppy to go straight down you can insert a bamboo stake or something up the hose to stiffen it (turn the water on after the hose is pointed at the ground). You don't need a lot of pressure, the water just erodes the earth away and up out of the hole.
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 PM on April 27, 2020

But call the electric company and the water company before digging this deep? I mean, my dogs never have, but it seems like good advice I see whenever someone does something involving a shovel.
posted by sweltering at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2020

It's not really an opinion. Auguring is overkill because you're digging at least a 6" diameter hole for a 1/2" iron stick. That doesn't make any sense whatsoever. If the rebar or pipe is hard to pull back out, you simply rock it back an forth.

Another thing that would work is to cut the end of a 1/2" PVC to a point and drive that into the ground. Place the Shepard's hook in that as folks have been saying.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:46 AM on April 28, 2020

I would get a piece of thinwall metal tube or even EMT electrical conduit with an inside diameter slightly bigger than the outside of your shepherds-crook pole, hammer one end of the tube closed, and drive it into the ground with a fence post driver. Put the feeder pole into the tubing. If it sinks too far in, toss some gravel down inside the tubing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:51 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

That fence post driver will crumple conduit or thinwall pipe. Those are for driving solid metal posts like t-posts or thick walled metal pipe. They pack a serious punch. They also won't drive anything flush so you'll have a piece of pipe sticking up 18" out of the ground.
posted by fshgrl at 2:08 AM on May 4, 2020

« Older What flavours are missing in this recipe?   |   Minoxidil and pregnancy? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments