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Low bottom rail, should I be concerned about heaving?

Low bottom rail, should I be concerned about heaving?

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  #1  
Old 10-04-18, 05:16 PM
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Low bottom rail, should I be concerned about heaving?

Hello Everyone,

I went through the work of placing my posts 40 - 42" down tamped in dirt which was suggested to prevent heaving. I'm building a stepped 3 rail fence with spaced dog ear pickets.

I placed the bottom rail low since we have pets. There is a lot of uneven ground and in some places its only out of the dirt by 1/4 inch. It was either that or leave huge gaps under the fence. The 2x4's are rated for ground contact and my pickets should still be far enough out of the dirt.

However my concern is frost heaving on the bottom of the fence rails. If my posts don't move since they are below the frost line what happens if the soils heaves against these spots?

thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 10-04-18, 06:10 PM
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#1, Always best to have added your location in your profile.
#2, It's highly unlikely you have below grade rated 2 X 4's, read the tag again on the end of them again. .
There's no reason they could not have been installed at least 6" above grade.
The pickets would span that small gap and would last longer if they were sealed at the bottom before installing.
The post are far more likely to lift then the rails and pickets.
 
  #3  
Old 10-04-18, 07:31 PM
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I checked my profile and had my state listed but updated it for country as well. I'm in northern IL

In the sloped area of my yard I have about a 12" drop between posts set 6 feet apart. When the yard flattens out the ground is still not even. Most places the rail and pickets are at least 1 - 2 " off the ground. The places where the dirt is closer is what I was concerned about.

I'm not worried if I have to replace a few pickets but if frost was able to bow the rails it would be frustrating. At the time it seemed like a good idea to place the bottom rail low and I've seen a lot of pics on the net done that way as well. I was trying to minimize the bottom of the pickets warping off the rail as I've seen a lot of around here.

update: I just checked and it does say my 2x4's are rated for ground contact. These were the same price as other stores so it seemed logical to go with them
 

Last edited by spork1; 10-04-18 at 07:52 PM.
  #4  
Old 10-04-18, 11:41 PM
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40 - 42" down tamped in dirt which was suggested to prevent heaving.
Should have used concrete, this is probably going to give you more issues long term with the posts not being secure!
 
  #5  
Old 10-05-18, 06:43 AM
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Did you custom cut each picket to length to fit the slope of the ground?
 
  #6  
Old 10-05-18, 08:43 AM
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I didn't cut any pickets. I made them level on top and stepped them down where needed at the next section. The easiest fix is probably to take out a shovel and knock down the dirt where its close. I'm actually a bit concerned about there being too much of a gap in places.

The back is up against a wooded area that coyotes sometimes move through. They usually stay away from yards but I wanted something better than a 4 foot chain link. My plan was to secure some welded wire fencing in the dirt to prevent anything from digging in. Thinking about buying some of the commercial coyote rollers as well. Difficult to find evidence on how effective they actually are.

A few posts already turned into bananas. One of them had to be removed and I'm glad it wasn't in concrete. I packed down the soil so hard that my phd was bouncing off the dirt when trying to dig it out. If I had more time and space I would of let everything dry out for 6 months in a garage. I've done much reading on the concrete vs tamping debate and I don't think there is a wrong way if done correctly. I spaced my pickets out to help prevent wind damage to the fence so hopefully I wont have trouble.

Not sure if I would ever build a wood fence again. The lumber selection at local stores was terrible.
At best 25% of the stacks are usable. I should of went with my original plan and did 6' chain link and ordered the longer posts for the corners.
 
  #7  
Old 10-05-18, 09:04 AM
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The easiest fix is probably to take out a shovel and knock down the dirt where its close. I'm actually a bit concerned about there being too much of a gap in places.
Is it feasible to take the dirt from the high places and deposit it in the low areas?
 
  #8  
Old 10-05-18, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
Is it feasible to take the dirt from the high places and deposit it in the low areas?
I'm going to try.

After looking around town and checking on here I can't find any pictures of where frost heaving has damaged pickets or rails from being close to the ground even when they are incorrectly placed in direct contact with the dirt. Plenty of examples of the pickets rotting.

I still have one side left and will make sure the bottom rail is a bit higher. The back of my lot is recently cleared and there are so many tree stumps and roots I figured landscaping at this time wouldn't be much good.
 
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