I’m really embarrassed to admit that the project to install a new flag pole, which we had planned for a weekend back in July, is only just now complete.  We, of course, have lots of excuses … it was too hot, digging up the old one was more work than anticipated, we had other things going on … but, mostly, we’re just lazy.  So, enough of that – the new flag pole is installed and operable … and we’re excited about that!

As a reminder, here’s what we started with:

Before Pictures

It was about 20′ tall, non-removable and rusted with hardware beyond its useful life.  We pondered initially whether it would be worth trying to fix up the old flag pole rather than replace it.  We figured it could look better after some time with a wire brush, a fresh coat of paint, a new pulley, and some fresh rope, but the logistics of painting a 20′ tall pole stumped us.  Plus, we found a nice collapsable, removable one by Uncommon USA that shared none of the problems of the old one.  We decided it was clearly time for a replacement.

So, we moved on to Plan B:  Dig up the old flag pole and replace it with a shiny, new, collapsable, and removable one.  Brilliant plan!

We decided the first step should be to cut the pole off at a more manageable height so that it wouldn’t be so unwieldy while we dug it up.

The Old Flag Pole:  Cut Down to Size


That done, we started digging around the concrete footing … and dug some more … and kept on digging.  After making a mess out of the flower bed around the flag pole, we resigned ourselves to the fact that digging out the old flag pole was easier said than done.  We seriously think that flag pole had a more substantial footing than some homes.

Monster Footings!

While the top portion of the concrete looked like a typical do-it-yourself pour that should be easy enough to dig up, further down, it became obvious that a form was used to pour a proper footing.  We also found some metal rods reinforcing the concrete.  And to top it off, the flag pole concrete appeared to be “connected” to the section of sidewalk that leads from the driveway to the flagpole.

This was when we decided (back in July) that the flag pole project warranted some more thought before proceeding … the amount of “thought” that would take until the weather cooled down at least.

And, so, the flagpole sat for about 2 months, looking like this …

The half-of-a-flag-pole we lived with for 2 months.

… until a 2 weekends ago when we decided to tackle the project again, this time with a new approach.

So, plan C for the flag pole project was born:  Cut off the old flag pole and install the new one in a slightly different location.  After more time spent trying to dig to the bottom of the concrete the old flag pole was set in, we decided to give up on that effort completely.  Instead, we figured we’d cut the flag pole off even with the concrete, take a sledge to the top of the footing to chip away at it until it was a few inches below ground level, cover it with dirt and mulch, and forget it was there.  Then we could move on with installing the new flag pole a little to the left and closer to the driveway, which would be more centered in the flower bed anyway.

So, Chad took the reciprocating saw to the remaining half of the flag pole and cut it off at ground level … success!

No more flag pole!

And then he attempted to break out the top portion of the concrete … but this time with little success.  That concrete was just not budging.  So, we decided to leave it there … and even talked ourselves into thinking it was the right thing to do.  After all, it was preserving the history of the old flag pole that had been lovingly installed by a previous owner … they even wrote their name in the concrete.

Hicks.  1981.

So, we decided to move on to installing the new flag pole.

For the installation of the new flag pole, we used a post hole digger to dig a hole about 30″ deep and 15″ in diameter.  Our hole turned out a little bigger than the manufacturer’s recommendation, but we figured bigger was ok … we wouldn’t want the flag pole to fall over after all.

Digging for the new flag pole.

The hole.

With the hole dug, we then added gravel to the bottom for drainage and leveling and such.  We added enough gravel so that the top of the plastic sleeve (which holds the flag pole) was level with the ground and the bottom of it was filled with about 2″ of rock.

The gravel ... and the plastic sleeve.

We weren’t sure how much concrete we would need to fill the hole around the plastic sleeve, so we started by mixing up 2 60 lb. bags of Quickrete, which we found filled the hole only about 2/3 of the way, so we wound up using one more bag.  We did decide, though, to stop the concrete about 2″ below ground level so that the footing could be more easily covered with mulch to blend in to the flower bed.

Mixing the Quickrete

2 bags of concrete.

As we added the concrete, we periodically checked the sleeve to make sure that it was pointed straight up (nothing worse than a crooked flag pole!) using a post level.

Post Level

Once all of the concrete was poured in the hole, we even temporarily set the flag pole in the sleeve so that we could check to make sure it was straight.  We were really worried that the flag pole would come out crooked, but we found that even wet concrete does a really good job of keeping the sleeve in place so it doesn’t move around too much and was pretty easy to level.

Leveling the flag pole.

With the concrete poured, we cleaned up for the night and waited for it to cure before inserting the flag pole into the sleeve and raising it for the first time.

Drying concrete ...

The next day, we we really relieved to find that the flag pole was, in fact, straight!

It's straight!

It feels like we have been looking at a rusted out, inoperable flag pole for so long and it’s really nice to finally have one that’s functional and that looks so much nicer than the old one!

The New Flag Pole

The only thing we’re missing now is proper lighting so that we can leave the United States flag out at night.  With our current arrangement, we have to bring it in at night, so we find that we aren’t flying a flag as often because of that.

Chad, however, found another flag that doesn’t have that problem … a John Deere flag, of course.  :)

John Deere Flag.

Here are the “official” before and after photos for the flag pole replacement project:

Before & After


And so the project to install a new flag pole is finally complete – only a couple of months later than planned.  Overall, we’d say there isn’t anything overly difficult or challenging about the installation of a new flag pole … the removal of an old one, which was planted in an extraordinary amount of super-strength concrete, however, is a different story!

Filed Under: Landscaping

Tags: ,

2 thoughts on “Finally … a New Flag Pole!

  1. Jan says:

    It looks great.

    Our old flagpole is about 6 inches in diameter and we have no idea how were are going to lower it to the ground without 1. hurting someone 2. hitting the house 3. falling on my roses.

    The new flagpole will go in a new location so we won’t have to worry about the whole concrete footing thing and I am thankful for that.

    Your flagpole looks great and straight!!!

  2. louis says:

    so beautiful :D

Leave a Reply