Well I don't know about you but I'm a big fan of curb appeal. I like my house to look nice from the street and I want it to be welcoming when friends come over. So I decided to put a lamp post here in the front yard. I've looked all over and I think the best spot for it is actually right here where I've got this flower bed.
Now here in the northeast as you may have heard, it gets pretty cold. And the ground can freeze down two feet or more. And it creates what's called a frost heave effect. If the ground freezes beneath the end of the post, well it can actually push it up out of the ground.
So I want to avoid that and I'll do it by making the hole at least 2 and a half feet deep. I could use a post hole digger but I'm going do it the easy way. The easy way is with a post hole auger. A giant earth drill if you will, that can be rented at almost any home improvement or rental center.
Now the trick here is to hang on tight. There are plenty of rocks in this soil and I'm bound to hit a few. Well I got my 32 inches. The frost shouldn't get under this post. And I'm also having an electrician run a line in here. This is special outdoor or underground rated cable.
The wires themselves are encased in PVC. This has to be buried at least 12 inches underground. Around here they want 18. So I think we're ready to go. Into the bottom of my post hole, I'm putting a couple of inches of crushed rock to drain away water that might collect there.
The post I've chosen is pre stained and made of solid cedar. Cedar is lightweight, yet strong, a rare combination. And highly resistant to rock, decay and insects because of the natural oils produced by the tree. Well here's my post and here's my wire.
Now the post has been bored. The wire's actually going to enter it below grade. Below ground. And then run up the center and come out the top. And the manufacturer has been kind enough to put this piece of string in here.
So all I have to do is loop the wire through the string and pull it from this point right up through the end. I secure the loop by wrapping it with electrical tape. Then I push the wire into the hole, go to the opposite end and pull it through using the string.
Well my wire's in the post. It's coming out the top. I'm ready to set this in the hole. This strap on level will leave my hands free to work. To hold the post in position, I drive in a couple of stakes. Then clamp a board between the stake and post.
I loosen the clamps, adjust and once the post is perfectly vertical, I re-tighten the clamps and the post stays just where I want it. This is a solid cedar post. Highly rot resistant but not rot proof. To extend its life, the maker suggests that I not set it in concrete.
Why? Because the concrete forms a jacket or collar around the post. If the post shrinks, water can get in between, get trapped there and cause the post to rot prematurely. So this one is going in plain old dirt. After adding a few inches of soil, I stop and compact the soil using a 2 by 4. With the hole backfilled and compacted I can remove the clamps and braces.
Now this cedar sleeve is what's going to turn an otherwise ordinary post into something special. It slips over the top and is held in place with finish nails. To keep water out, I apply caulk to the joint and smooth out the bead using my finger.
This post cap also adds a classic touch and incorporates a mounting base for the light fixture. I'm working alone today. So I've made this clamp-on shelf. The plan is to lay the light fixture on it while I connect the wires.
The electrical connections are pretty basic. Split the PVC covering, strip off the wire insulation, secure the wires together using wire nuts and wrap the whole thing tightly with electrical tape for some added weather proofing and to help things slip more easily into the hole in the center of the post.
Now I can slip the lantern over the mounting base, install a screw, check for level, then put in the remaining fasteners.
Well I'm just about there. All that's left is to set on the lantern top and trim ring, then screw on the finial. You know there's something very welcoming about a lamp post, I guess it says yes, we're home, come on in -for our friends and family we can now say, we'll leave the light on for you.