There are few images that ooze relaxation as much as someone enjoying lazing about the backyard hammock. There’s a reason the image of Homer Simpson enjoying a lazy Saturday is just as ubiquitous as him slouching on the couch. Whether you enjoy a backyard hammock to relax or are always itching for more time out in the woods to go hammock camping and want to recreate a little bit of that at home, there are several good reasons for putting up some hammock posts when there aren’t two suitable trees in the area.
But can you put up hammock posts without concrete?
You can put up hammock posts without concrete but you will need to be very careful about depth and setting up a stable foundation that doesn’t come loose over time. This is possible if you don’t want permanent set in posts or have another reason concrete doesn’t work, but there are challenges around setting up hammock posts this way.
Homer Simpson isn’t the only one who can appreciate the benefits of setting up a backyard hammock. There’s undeniably something truly special about relaxing in the shade, gently swaying in the breeze, feeling at peace with the world around me whether it’s a hot summer day in the shade, a warm spring one, or an unseasonably late warm autumn day. Of course, if either of the posts aren’t fully secure that would ruin the relaxation and the day.
Generally I would want to use concrete but there are some reasons maybe I can’t whether it’s HOA, local city ordinances, or other considerations. That being said, setting up hammock posts without concrete is possible and does have benefits such as being more environmentally friendly, easier to move if I decide to change the location, and lower in cost.
After discussing with a few carpenters who kept coming back to “Use concrete,” and multiple handymen who have done the “No concrete so our deck wasn’t a permanent structure and could skirt annoying Tampa city building regulations,” (you know, hypothetically speaking) and combining those with my own experiences, I’ve found what are, to my knowledge, the best approaches for creating stable and reliable hammock posts without concrete.
Let’s jump in!
Choosing Suitable Posts
When it comes to installing hammock posts without concrete, the first step is selecting the right kind of posts for the job. They’re going to be dealing with the weight and strain from your lazy day so it’s important to make sure they’re up to the job. If you can go with galvanized steel posts that is ideal as these can deal with a lot more weight and stress than even the hardest wood.
If you are going with wood, which is also a great choice and often the better aesthetic choice, you should go with wood that was pressure treated so it’s resistant to weather and tougher than non-treated wood. While these won’t last forever, these treated wood posts are durable and will be able to withstand most normal weather and seasonal wear and tear.
The size of the posts is another critical factor to consider. Typically, I would go for posts that are at least 4×6 inches in dimension or 6 inches in diameter for wooden ones. For steel posts, they can be much thinner but still it’s best to choose a size that is 2 inches or more in diameter. Also keep in mind that if you’re not using concrete that more pressure will be put on the area of steel poles which isn’t a problem for holding your weight, but that extra weight can make a pole more likely to pull the pole right out of the ground.
That’s why larger and thicker posts provide better stability and can support more weight, ensuring a safe and enjoyable hammock experience.
In addition to the size and material, the length of the post is important as well. I’ve found that a good rule of thumb is to select a post that is at least 8 feet tall. This height will ensure proper clearance for hanging a hammock while also considering the depth at which the post needs to be buried. Generally, you need to bury the post at least 3 feet deep to provide stability and support.
If you’re using particularly stretchy materials with your hammock you may have to adjust a few more inches or get longer poles to make up for the pull, but these are good base measurements to start with.
To sum up, when choosing suitable hammock posts, remember to consider the following factors:
- Material (pressure-treated wood or galvanized steel)
- Size (4×6 inches or 6 inches in diameter for wood, 2 inches or more in diameter for steel)
- Length (at least 7 feet tall)
Following these guidelines will help ensure that you select posts that can effectively support your hammock without concrete, making for a long-lasting and safe setup.
Selecting Post Hole Diggers, Augers, and Shovels
When I started looking for the right tools to dig holes for my hammock posts, I considered two essential tools: a post hole digger and a spade shovel. Most people are going to go with an auger which honestly is less work (assuming you know how to use the auger) and many times it’s the best way to do things. I tend to be a bit more old school so my recommendations on actual post hole diggers are more first hand, but the point is you have multiple tools that you can choose from.
That said, scroll to the section that applies to you so you know my recommendation for the best tool for the job.
Manual Post Hole Digging: AMES Post Hole Digger
When choosing a post hole digger, I looked for one that offered ease of use and durability. There are manual and powered options available. A manual post hole digger is a classic choice, with two handles attached to opposing blades that dig into the ground when the handles are brought together. I found the AMES Post Hole Digger to be a reliable manual option.
The rubber handles are comfortable on the hands, unlike the old school ones that would help you develop calluses by blistering the hell out of your palms. The movement is good, reliable, and these are easy to leverage and use. One of the better postholers that I’ve used and I can see why so many people recommended it when I started calling around to see if my favorite held up or not.
Power Augers: LandWorks and Xtremepower
I’ve used augers, but because a lot of the work I’ve done is on a heavy budget, I personally have a lot more experience with the manual tools but I have used power augers and know a lot of people in the construction business or who do various at-home projects in their acres out in some acres out in the country. There were two names that came up consistently, and eventually doing more research I even found them as recommendations from Bob Vila’s site, so that’s pretty good confirmation that these are some of the best for the task on hand.
Option #1: Xtremepower 1.6HP Electric Post Hole Digger
The Xtremepower Electric Post Hole Digger will get the job done a lot faster than your standard non-power auger options, and this is one I hear a lot of good people talk about. And they’re ones who have a lot of projects going on, like fencing off 10 new acres of woods. None of that “one and done” project stuff, but from people who actually put these augers to the test.
And let’s be honest, if you hit hard clay, you want to use a power auger way more than you want to use a regular post hole digger. Why does the Xtremepower one stick out?
- Extremely good sturdiness
- Easy to use – excellent grips
- Easy to maneuver
- Consistency with hole depth and shape
- Reasonable price for what you get
- Excellent heavy duty motor (1500W)
This can all be summed up as a hole digger that is easy to use, inexpensive, and just gets the job done, which is a trio of praises few tools receive.
This would be one of only two options I’d look at if I had a really large project where time was enough of a factor to give up on the manual process.
Option #2: Landworks Earth Auger
This is the other one that has come up quite a big as being mentioned as one of the best ones out there, though I’ve also been warned that it is designed to be a powerful premium model and therefore it’s also a bit more expensive than the Xtremepower option. That said, if you are dealing with ground that can be rocky, have hard clay, be otherwise challenging, and you’re still going with a no concrete setup, then going the premium route to get the necessary depth isn’t a bad call.
The Landworks Earth Auger gets high marks for:
- Outstanding Electric model
- Lightweight while remaining strong and sturdy
- Has lights to light up the work area in evening or even night
- Quieter than gas-powered models
- Very good value for the money
I don’t know as many people who went with the Landworks, but again the two I found who used it had nothing but good things to say regarding how it performed. Tal said the feel of it still felt a bit light, which concerned him when it came to durability, but it held up to heavy in-job use and so is an admirable option.
The Spade Shovel
Yes, even with a gas powered or electric powered auger, you still need a good spade shovel. This shouldn’t be a problem – there aren’t huge differences between an average spade shovel and a so-called “premium” one. You need this to clear out any loose dirt, gravel, some rock or root that needs to be cleared out, etc.
A simple spade shovel is easy enough to find and if you live out in the country there’s a decent chance you have one anyway.
Basically once you have your post hole digger and spade shovel of choice, you have the main tools you need to set up the hammock posts.
Preparing the Post Holes
Before starting I tend to get all the basics beyond the diggers: the tape measurer, a level, etc. I generally don’t save the dirt for other use but if you wanted to make raised garden bets or something like that then you may want to include a tarp seeing as how that can make it much much easier to put all the dirt in one place for reuse later.
This isn’t necessary for putting up the hammock, but it’s something to keep in mind to optimize all your work, especially if you have a lot to do in one area.
Figure out what the soil is like in your area for the depth. Generally, I go 36 inches minimum, though some people have gone with 24 and it works but I still think that’s a bit of a potential risk when not using concrete. The hole should be at least 1/3 the length of the post, and of course materials matter.
A couple of great resources for looking at other opinions or options include:
Both have a lot of great information and opinions from others who have done the same work as I have and it’s sometimes worth looking for someone who is in your relative area to ask questions as there are huge differences between sandy soil, thick Iowa soil, southern clay, etc. So what works in one location might not work well in another with the different conditions.
Check Hole Sizes
Next, I used my post-hole digger to dig the holes, making sure they were twice the width of the posts (Hunker). Throughout the process, I occasionally used the shovel to help break through layers of clay and remove any obstacles that were difficult to handle with the post-hole digger. Using the combination of tools should get the job done.
Once the holes are dug, check the depth with my measuring tape and made any necessary adjustments. I then used my level to ensure the holes had an even and flat bottom, which would help the posts remain stable and upright. You don’t want any tilt at all, that’s just asking for a bad time.
After completing the holes, I placed gravel at the bottom of each hole to further increase stability (Hunker). This was especially important given the absence of concrete in my project. The gravel layer provided a solid base for my hammock posts, preventing them from sinking further into the soil and maintaining their proper height.
Installing Hammock Posts
Adding Gravel and Soil
Before installing the hammock posts, I start by digging a hole at least 2 feet deep and double the size of the post width (around 8-12 inches) at the desired location source. Then, I place about 6 inches of gravel at the bottom of the hole to promote drainage and strong support. You don’t want just plain soil at the bottom otherwise a lot of rain over time can cause problems.
Look at the concept of how permafrost building works in places like Alaska to get a better idea of why you want this additional bit of caution.
Next, I add a few inches of soil on top of the gravel layer. I ensure the soil layer is compact by using a tamp or any compacting tool to create a firm base for the post.
Positioning the Posts
Once the base is ready, I carefully stand one of the posts (hook side up) in the middle of the post hole. It is important to ensure the post is vertically straight using a leveler or my best judgment. I also make sure the hammock hook is facing the desired direction for hanging the hammock.
Then it’s just a matter of repeating the exact same process for the second post. Make sure they’re lined up properly, and then go for it so you have two posts that are settling at the same right at the proper distance apart.
Backfilling and Compacting
After positioning the posts, it’s time to backfill the hole with soil or crushed stone. I do this in 6-inch layers, compacting each layer as I go. That compacting is really important because it makes the surrounding ground as tight as possible and reduces the room for shifting. That makes the setup more stable and even if there is some settling, it won’t be nearly as bad over time.
At which point you can top it off – just keep compacting it.
Finally, I continue to backfill and compact until the hole is filled and the ground is at least level with the surrounding area. If it comes over the top, that’s fine, I compact it in and around as there might be some settling over time, but by compacting it a good chunk should go back in. Now, the hammock posts are installed and ready for use without concrete.
Make Sure You Have Proper Drainage
When installing hammock posts without concrete, it’s essential to consider proper drainage around the posts. This helps to prevent water from pooling around the base of the posts, reducing the likelihood of rot and prolonging their lifespan. In my experience, there are some effective methods for ensuring good drainage.
Firstly, I recommend using a layer of aggregate at the bottom of the hole where the post will be placed. This could be crushed stone or gravel. Placing about 6 inches of aggregate in the bottom of the posthole allows for drainage and minimizes the amount of water that comes into contact with the post source. I always make sure that the bottom of the post extends a few inches into the aggregate for maximum effectiveness.
When backfilling the hole, it’s beneficial to use the excavated soil or additional crushed stone in 6-inch layers, compacting each layer as I go. This approach helps to create a firm grip on the post and allows for proper drainage source.
Besides proper drainage around the posts, I also pay attention to the overall yard drainage to ensure that rainwater doesn’t accumulate near the posts. Installing a French drain, for instance, can be a useful solution to direct water away from the hammock posts and other structures in the yard.
In conclusion, proper drainage plays a crucial role in the longevity and stability of the hammock posts without concrete. By using effective drainage techniques like aggregate layers and appropriate backfilling, I can enjoy my hammock safely for many years to come.
Attaching the Hammock
Using Hooks and Chains
When I attach my hammock to the posts without using concrete, I prefer using hooks and chains.
The first step is to drill a hole near one end of each post and screw in the desired hammock hooks. I make sure to position the hooks facing the right direction for hanging the hammock.
Next, I measure the distance I want between the posts and attach a chain to each hook, ensuring the chain length is suitable to bring the hammock to the desired height.
Finally, I connect the hammock’s end loops onto the chains. This method is both strong and reliable, giving me peace of mind when I lay down to relax.
Employing Straps and Ropes
Another method I use to hang my hammock without concrete involves straps and ropes. To use straps, I wrap a strap around each post, making sure the strap hugs the post securely. It’s important to choose durable straps that can withstand both weather and weight without stretching too much. I then attach the hammock’s end loops to the straps using carabiners. This method ensures a secure connection without causing damage to my posts.
If I prefer using ropes over straps, I start by wrapping the rope around each post several times. Similar to the straps method, I choose a durable rope that can handle the necessary weight and weather conditions. Next, I tie a knot on each post that can manage the pressure created when laying in the hammock, such as a bowline knot. Finally, I connect my hammock’s end loops to the rope using carabiners or S-hooks.
When I employ these methods to attach my hammock without concrete, I can enjoy a comfortable and secure outdoor experience while preserving the integrity of my environment.
Why Avoid Concrete?
While many people go straight to thinking about concrete when setting up hammock posts (and honestly, for good reason) depending on what my goals are or what the overall situation is for setup. While I’m not necessarily gung-ho to not use it, there are several reasons some might avoid it. One of the main reasons to steer clear of concrete is the cost.
Concrete can be expensive and if you don’t necessarily need it then why not go without and save a bit of money if you’re on a tight budget?
In addition to saving money, I’ve found that by avoiding concrete, the installation process becomes much faster. Concrete requires a curing period, which can take anywhere from several hours to a few days depending on the weather conditions. This waiting period can be a major inconvenience, particularly if you’re eager to start enjoying your hammock right away.
Another reason I avoid concrete when setting up hammock posts is its potential to cause problems over time. In my experience, not using concrete allows for more flexibility in terms of future adjustments or repositioning of the hammock posts . If your posts were set in concrete, relocating them would involve breaking the concrete and potentially damaging the posts. With alternative methods, it’s much easier to make changes to the location or height of the hammock posts without causing any damage.
Overall, avoiding concrete when setting up hammock posts offers numerous benefits such as cost savings, faster installation, better protection for the posts, and greater flexibility for future adjustments.
Alternative Hammock Setup Options
There are plenty of options to setting up posts for your hammock, though obviously some of this will be extremely environment dependent to see which of these would be viable options and which ones are not.
Using Trees and Hammock Straps
When I want to hang my hammock traditionally, one of the best ways is to utilize trees as support. This method reduces the need for concrete or any other materials. I look for sturdy trees at an appropriate distance (ideally 12 to 15 feet apart), ensuring that they can handle the hammock’s weight.
I use tree-friendly straps to attach the hammock to the trees because the straps won’t harm the trees. They are specifically designed not to, and I learned this from my days of being really into hammock camping.
Examples of good hammock straps can easily be found on Amazon.com. I personally like MalloMe or WiseOwl, but there are many great options.
Utilizing Hammock Stands and Hooks
Another option that doesn’t require concrete is using hammock stands. These versatile and portable structures are perfect for flexibility and convenience, as they allow me to set up my hammock wherever I want.
Hammock stands are made of various materials, such as wood or metal, and come in different designs to fit various needs. I usually choose a stand that’s compatible with my hammock type and size.
To hang my hammock on a stand, I attach it either with the provided hooks or additional rope. Some stands include built-in hooks, making the process even easier.
In addition to these methods, a tarp can be used as a versatile accessory for my hammock set up. Whether shielding me from the elements or providing extra privacy, a tarp can be easily integrated into both tree-based and stand-based hammock setups.
Maintaining Your Hammock Setup
One of the essential aspects of my hammock setup without concrete is ensuring the posts’ stability in the soil. I make sure to dig post holes at least 3 feet deep for maximum support – this helps prevent the posts from wobbling or tipping under my weight when I am resting in my hammock. To further secure the posts, I also consider the type of soil and its capacity to hold the posts firmly. Soft or sandy soils might require additional measures, such as using longer posts or incorporating gravel into the hole for reinforcement.
Next, I pay close attention to the angle at which the posts are installed. A slight inward angle (approximately 5 to 10 degrees) towards the center of the hammock can provide additional stability and prevent the posts from bending outward under stress. This angle should make the posts lean slightly towards one another but not so much that it distorts the overall shape of the hammock.
In terms of keeping the hammock itself in good condition, I habitually check the rope or straps and the connections with the posts. Any signs of fraying, wear, or damage should be addressed immediately to avoid potential accidents while using the hammock.
Another useful practice I follow is periodically inspecting the square brackets or fittings that connect the hammock to the posts. Ensuring that these components are securely fastened and free from rust or corrosion helps maintain the integrity of my hammock setup over time.
As for the hammock itself, I make sure to clean it regularly and store it indoors during extreme weather conditions to prevent mold, mildew, and excess wear. Proper cleaning and storage extend the life of my hammock and help ensure I have a comfortable and safe space to relax.
Setting Hammocks Without Concrete: In Conclusion
You do have options when it comes to putting up hammock posts without concrete, but whether or not that is the best option is going to vary on a case-by-case basis. Fortunately, this article gave you all the information you need to set up you
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