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I need to get some stakes into the ground surrounding my garden, as my neighborhood has large populations of deer. However, the ground is pretty stony, so just physically forcing the stakes down into the ground is nearly impossible, as I can't get deeper than 2 or 3 inches, which isn't deep enough to support the stakes.

What techniques or tools can I use to get the stakes deep enough without brute physical force?

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First: have you tried using a post driver like this one? I've got really rocky ground too, and I know what you mean about getting a hammer on it. The post driver may help you get your force directed into the stake properly.

If you want less manual labor, you could see if you can rent a powered post driver like this. I've never used one, but I'd guess you'll want to make sure you've got really heavy duty stakes.

Second: when I try to drive a stake, I usually have to make 2-4 attempts on each stake. Drive it, realize I've hit a really big rock, move 6", try again. Sometimes I use a digging bar as a probe to find a path where I can get a stake in. It's still brute force, though.

Third: sorry, but I think five foot stakes aren't going to help you in your battle with deer. Unless there are lots of other distractions in your neighborhood, they will easily jump a five foot fence to get whatever you're growing. Last year I had two strands of electric fence with the top strand at 7' high, and 5' welded wire on the bottom. They still got in... I had to add a second perimeter of electric fence 5' high about 6' outside the inner fence before they stopped getting in.

See also:

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  • A digging bar looks like it might be useful in my situation. And, in my case a 5 foot fence is plenty. I had one last year and the deer were sufficiently deterred by it to move on to other things. The problem was just that the posts kept falling over and collapsing in on the garden. – huntmaster Apr 1 '13 at 15:46
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Have you considered using steel star posts instead?

These are going to handle more of a whacking than a wooden stake so you should be able to drive it into the ground with more force.

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  • The stakes I'm using are metal, 5 foot long angle brackets, almost like what you might use in shelving. So, there's no issue with durability, but they are too long to be effective with just hammering on them. – huntmaster Mar 31 '13 at 15:39
  • "but they are too long to be effective with just hammering on them" - that's why it might be a good idea to try star posts? – going Apr 1 '13 at 11:06
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Metal Fence post supports as seen here were helpful for me. I had to put a post for a railing into ground where a patio had been with a 5/8" gravel bed. The square head lets you put a four by four cut off in and get a really good whack at it with a sledge hammer. The only difficulty I found was that the post can twist as you are hammering it in. This could make it difficult to align the posts if they are not parallel.

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Get 3/4 rebar in the length you want, us a hammerdrill n drive the rebar in, secure ur fence to that. It will splut rocks as it drives down

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