In my last blog post I wrote about choosing the best rotary clothes line for your garden. This post will cover the installation of the ground spike.
This is a perfect opportunity to mention that I’ve recently finished installing the ground spikes for the new rotary washing line at our home. I’m so proud of myself; it took me awhile longer than I thought it would, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. The only thing that was tricky was dealing with the fact that the spire is taller than the washing line.
They say that the ground spike is the best way to install a rotary washing line. The reason being, it allows you to install a longer line without the risk of tip-over, and it is much easier to turn and guide into place than a traditional metal pole. So far so good. But what if you want to install a new line instead of replacing an old one? Well, maybe that won’t be an option for you, but if you are installing a new line, then you might as well follow the steps below.
Ground Spikes Provide Long Term Support
This bad boy is a game changer. Have you ever tried to revive a tilting clothes line in your garden? This spike is the tool you need to use to get it back to working order. This will save you hours of time and money because you don’t have to do this even twice, let alone three times. Without this gadget you could find yourself repeatedly straightening the centre pole each summer.
I’ve written a few posts that mention using the ground spike on a new line. Here, I’m going to cover some of the more technical details of how to safely install this vital part of my rotary to keep it upright for years to come.
Location, Location, Location
Firstly, choose your spot carefully. You need to be sure that when the line is open, there’s not only room for the arms to rotate, but also whatever is hanging to dry must also have room to blow outwards and dry in the breeze without obstruction.
Installing too close to walls or fencing can cause poor results and even damage to clothing and other materials like bedding if they snag as the line spins.
The ground spike for your line will be the middle of the circle within which your line spins when fully open. If you’re very limited for space, you can minimise the risk of problems by measuring out the spot that’s most central in each direction. If the distance from that central position to the nearest wall, fence or other obstruction is less that the length of a full open arm of the line, then you’ll either need to install it in a more open place or choose a smaller model.
Get Your Materials Ready
Installing the spike is something you really need to do properly. Properly means concrete. Fortunately, post mix concretes are easy to obtain from garden centres and hardware stores, and are easy to use too. It sounds like something you need to be an expert builder to work with but that’s really not the case. It can get a little messy if you’re not careful, so if you’ve got an expensive patio or driveway, it’s probably not the place to do it. A space on the lawn with a polythene sheet is fine – if you make a mess its easy to get the worst up afterwards, and grass is more forgiving and self healing than expensive patio slabs!
Measure Your Ground Spike Carefully
To prepare the location, measure the length of your ground spike – that’s the depth of hole you’ll be needing. Typically you need to dig a square hole to that depth, with the ground spike location in the centre of the square. We’d recommend a square with sides at least the width of a normal garden spade, but remember, the wider it is, the more concrete you’ll need and the narrower it is, the less support your ground spike and line will get. If you don’t want to lose a square of turf, carefully dig out the top layer and put it to one side before digging to the depth required, as you’ll be able to re-lay it on top of the concrete once the spike is in place. That means taking a layer off the existing lawn to allow enough when it goes back in for the grass to survive – a couple of inches should be plenty.
Once you’ve dug a nice cube shaped hole in your garden, position the ground spike, which may need to be stuck into a mound to keep it upright in the bottom of a hole, a bit like a golf tee. You can then fill the hole with the concrete, making sure the spike doesn’t move. If you line the hole to create a waterproof lining you can fill it with water then bung in the mix and stir it up with a stick then leave to set.
A Good Workman Uses His Tools
Of course, don’t forget to position the ground spike carefully before it all solidifies or you’re going to have a permanently wonky line! A spirit level is your friend here – and use it several times in different directions to check it’s flat on top. A flat spike top means a vertical line. An upright, vertical pole means a properly spinning rotary line later!
During the ten minutes or so that the concrete is setting, it’s wise to repeatedly check the top of the spike isn’t moving. It should be fine, but I can tell you from bitter experience that trying to rescue a spike that moved without anyone noticing from a block of concrete isn’t fun, and probably won’t be fruitful either.
Finally, once you’ve got a totally solid block in the ground, give it another five minutes or so for good measure, and replace the turf square if you kept it earlier. Finally, you can insert the middle pole of your line, and you’re ready to go!