posted by Bob Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 9:13 AM
Setting Basketball Poles and Mail Box Posts with Concrete
This is the weekend that you finally have to make good on your promises to your wife and kids. The kids received a basketball hoop for Christmas. You told them the snow was too deep and the ground was too frozen in December and January. Well that time has passed. Your wife has been bugging you since last fall to fix the mailbox that a less than stellar driver (let’s just call him Mr. Magoo because this is a family site) knocked down. So grab your shovel or posthole digger, if you’re lucky enough to have one, and get to it.
Of all of the around-the-house concrete projects that you are likely to tackle, setting a pole or post may just be the easiest. At least the concrete part. The concrete can be as simple as placing the concrete in a hole with water. The hole on the other hand may be more of a challenge. The fact that you may throw your back out trying to dig the hole is an issue you can take up with your chiropractor. I am just a simple concrete guy.
You will need a few tools. Something to dig with, a water hose, gloves, safety glasses, a level and of course a few bags of concrete (to figure out how many bags of concrete you need you can use our handy calculators here on the Sakrete website, just select the Calculators button above or click here for link.
Let’s tackle the mailbox first. Several months ago my wife decided we needed a new mailbox. Not sure why; the postman just fills it up with bills. So I went to the hardware store, bought the type of full height mailbox that is designed to slip over a 4x4 and went home. The first thing I did was make sure that the buried electrical line that runs to a lamp on the front lawn wasn’t in the way. (If you aren’t absolutely certain where your buried utilities are you should find out before digging.) I dug a hole about 12” deep and 12” across. I cut the 4x4 to the proper height and placed it in the center of the hole. I then filled the hole about 1/3 full with water and opened a bag of Sakrete Fast Set Concrete. The amount of water you will need depends on your soil. Very sand soil will require more and clay soil less. I dumped the first bag of dry concrete into the hole. When I looked into the hole I could see concrete but no water so I took the handle end of the shovel and poked at the concrete just to mix it up a little. I then added more water and dumped the second bag of concrete into the hole. Again I poked at the surface so that if appeared mixed. I actually had to top it off with a little more water to wet all of the concrete. I put my level on both sides of the 4x4 to ensure it was level. I then smoothed off the concrete using the shovel about 2 inches below the ground level. I immediately took some of the soil that I removed from the hole and dumped it on top of the concrete and leveled it off with the ground. Had I been smarter I would have saved the piece of grass I originally removed and used it as sod. Several hours later the concrete was hard and I was able to install the mailbox.
Putting up the basketball pole is basically done the same way except the hole will need to be bigger and deeper. Getting a pole that tall straight will likely require a second set of hands. A general rule of thumb is that 1/4 of the poles length should be in the ground and that the hole should be 3 times as wide as the pole. You can shorten the depth if you increase the width. How much concrete you will need depends to some extend on who will be using it. If the kids are casual players and not too aggressive the general rule of thumb above will work. If you anticipate that a teenager will attempt an NBA dunk you will need to make sure it is anchored. This may require the hole to be wider. Using this technique of simply dumping the concrete into the water will work well if you are not in big of hurry to start shooting hoops. If you are looking to use it the same day, I would mix Sakrete Fast Setting Concrete with water in a wheel barrow before placing it in the hole.
Posts and Poles can also be set with Sakrete Concrete, a concrete which sets much slower. Since the set time is much slower I would make certain that no weight or pressure is put on the pole or posts for several days.
There are those who suggest that you can simply dump dry concrete in a hole and allow nature to hydrate the concrete. Unless you live somewhere with a very high water table and have a month to allow it to get hard, I would not recommend this approach.
Happy hooping and bill paying!
Product Manager, Sakrete NA