Pergola repair suggestions, on the cheap.

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6 Jan 2016
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I visited an elderly friend of my mothers today, her husband died and his workshop (shed) needed some clearing and she offered me the tools. Very kind of her, she of course had no idea what was in there, mostly it was cheapy poundland type tools (no nice planes :( ) that were all rusted up but there were one of two useful items and plenty of nails and screws as you would expect, I was doing her a favour by clearing it out really and I tried to offer money but she wouldn't take it.
By way of payment I have told her I will go around and help tidy up the shed properly, hoover it out, remove junk etc and generally be helpful in lieu of payment for the tools.
While I was there though she told me the pergola her husband made was getting a bit loose in the ground. He built it 20-30 years ago and the main posts (4x4 buried in the ground) are rotting at the bottom as you might expect. From about a foot up from the ground the posts are still solid and the rest of the pergola is in very good condition but the most important part is that it is covered in trailing roses that her husband planted, they both loved roses and the garden is full of them.
If I can I would like to help stabilise the pergola for her so that she can continue to enjoy it safely for the rest of her years she is in her 70's so if the life of the pergola could be extended another 10-20 years that would be plenty.
Does anyone have any ideas how I can cheaply, and without damaging the current structure, re-inforce the posts?

My initial thoughts were to dig down either side of the main posts and bury a piece of 2x4 each side or maybe just one side of the post, extending up about 3ft past the rotted area, and then lag bolt the 2x4 to the main 4x4 post and hopefully, while maybe not the prettiest repair it would hold the posts steady for at least another decade. Anyone got any other ideas?

Oh and any repairs need to be cheap since I cannot afford too much money for materials and she certainly cannot.
Hi - two options I've used in the past (and the third and fourth I haven't):

1) Use a piece or two of angle iron, hammered into the ground - a bit like in the video linked earlier except the angle is much stiffer. e.g. cut these into three or four foot lengths with a hacksaw or angle grinder: ... B0086VJ74U then screw through extra holes drilled using a couple at opposite diagonals on each post.

2) Use a short concrete fence post (a "repair spur") driven in (or set in postcrete) alongside and then bolted through the original post e.g. ... r-75x75mm/

3) Scarf in some new timber - probably only worth the effort if it's a particularly fine specimen!

4) Metposts

Option 2 is obviously less beatiful but you can stain/paint conrete to make it look a bit less ugly.

Cheers, W2S

PS in my experience, timber posts of any sort rot faster in concrete than in bare earth - I assume because water is continually trapped in the concrete "pocket".
I did one at my old house. Cut off the post to good wood. Dug out all the old stuff. Dropped in new bit of same size post slightly short. Pulled up the new post to the old one and stinged a couple of screws in to hold it. Poured rapid set postcrete into post hole and nailed a trim round the post to hide the join and strengthen it when concrete had set, which is no time at all. Gave it a coat of shed and fence treatment to blend in. Used rapid set so i could do them all one after the other the same day.
The angle-iron repair described above works very well, I've used it a few times.
Thanks for the advice, angle iron sounds a good idea, hopefully I can pick some up cheap.