Say you've decided to install a flagpole and have a vague idea of where you think it should go. That's a fantastic start, but there may be more factors to consider than you might have thought. Here's a short list:
1. DISTANCE FROM BUILDINGS, TREES, AND POWER LINES
Putting a flagpole too close to a building, tree, or power line can result in negative outcomes across the board, the main one being tattered flags that need to be replaced more often than normal. The flag should touch nothing but the flagpole, otherwise they are guaranteed to sustain damage. The necessary distance between the flagpole and other objects depends on the height of the flagpole, because the height determines the size of the flag. For example, a 30' flagpole usually takes a 5X8' flag, so the minimum distance to center the flagpole from other objects is 8' + 3', so 11' total. You will want to keep the additional 3' gap in addition to the width of the flag to account for the flagpole's thickness and extra flag travel in extreme weather.
2. FLAGPOLE VISIBILITY
The amount of eyes you want catching your flag and flagpole is a major determining factor. The size of the building or home a flagpole sits in front of can determine whether it gets seen: single-story buildings will usually accommodate a 20'-25' flagpole; a two-story would accommodate a 30-40' flagpole; industrial buildings and the like will often go 50' or larger. Properties of each of these sizes, depending on how rural or urban the area is, will have a respective setback expectation; the more the building is set back, the further from the building it should go in order to maintain roadside visibility, unless that's not really your thing.
3. LOCAL ORDINANCES
Check with your local zoning authority to see if there are any restrictions on flagpole height or flag type in your area. Many localities will only allow flagpoles up to a certain height and only allow the USA flag to be flown. Many HOAs do not allow there to be in-ground flagpoles whatsoever. We can also check on these things for you if you're curious.
4. UNDERGROUND ELECTRICAL
We dig the holes for our flagpoles by hand, which comes with the risk of running into electrical lines as we dig. We do not expect you to have full knowledge of these things on your property, so we will call Miss Dig if we know there are underground concerns. Obviously we cannot move those lines, so we will have to move the flagpole to a safe spot. Most flagpole bases are dug 2'-5' deep and 3-6' wide, so it's important we have a good perimeter in mind.
This usually isn't a problem in Michigan, but some substrates require special treatment. We recommend choosing an area of the property where there is existing grass or clay, as these are the most compact substrates we typically work with. Rocky or sandy substrate (such as on a lakefront) should be avoided whenever possible. Given the unpredictable and loose nature of these materials, we cannot guarantee that a flagpole won't shift over time, even after it's dug into the concrete base.