Post Hole Digging: What Size Digger Is Perfect For My Job

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metal post hole digger partially in the ground digging a hole in dirt


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Patio & Yard


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Are you preparing to build a new deck, shed, or fence in your backyard? If so, then you’re going to need an effective and efficient way of digging post holes for these new structures.

It can be a daunting task for some homeowners who are unsure of the size digger that best meets their needs; however, with a few tips and tricks at hand, it can become much less stressful!

We’ll provide all the information you need about post-hole digging, what size digger might work best depending on different factors, and how to safely use the machinery provided.

Follow along as we discuss everything necessary for successful post-hole digging; let’s get started!

Determine the Type of Soil

Once you know what type of soil you’re working with, you can determine the size of the post-hole digger you need, for many, you may be able to use a simple manual post-hole digger like the Ames Dig EZ Post Hole Digger.

If you have hard or rocky soil, use a larger auger size. On the other hand, if you have soft or loamy soil, a smaller auger size should suffice.

It’s also important to consider the depth of the hole you’ll be digging. For six-foot-high fence posts, it is recommended to have a three-foot depth.

This means your post holes should be at least three times the width of your fence posts. Be sure to check your local ordinances to ensure that your fence posts are deep enough to meet regulations.

Estimate the Total Number of Holes

Now that you know what type of soil you’ll be working with, you need to estimate the total number of holes that you will need to dig.

This will help you determine the size of post hole digger that you need. If you are creating a fence line, for example, then you can measure the length of the fence and divide it by the distance between post holes.

This will give you a rough estimate of the number of posts that you need to install. If you are creating a deck or other structure, then you can use the same method to determine the number of posts that you will need.

Choose the Appropriate Handle Length

Once you’ve determined the type of soil, estimated the total number of holes, and selected the ideal size of post hole digger bit, the next step is to choose the appropriate handle length.

The handle length is important because it affects the way you use the post-hole digger.

A short handle will require more physical effort to use, while a longer handle will provide better leverage.

Generally speaking, a handle length of between 5 and 6 feet is ideal for most applications. If you need to dig deeper holes, an extension handle may be necessary.

Additionally, if you plan to use your post-hole digger in tight spaces or on uneven terrain, you may need to consider a pivoting head option.

Select the Ideal Size of Post Hole Digger Bit

Once you’ve determined the type of soil and estimated the total number of holes you need to dig, it’s time to look at the size of post hole digger bit you’ll need.

Generally, it is recommended that you provide yourself with 4 inches of wiggle room. So, if your fence post is 4 inches wide, you should consider an 8-inch auger for your post-hole digger.

A post-hole digger comes in many different sizes and most of them range from around 4 to 12 inches in diameter.

As a general rule of thumb, a 12-inch auger, best attached to a heavy machine, will create a hole large enough for most six-foot-high fence posts.

If you want to dig lots of holes as quickly as possible, a 9-inch hole with a 3-inch post in it is a lot of work, so having a selection of augers is handy – 4” for little posts and 7” for bigger posts.

With a 12-inch hole, you have plenty of wiggle room between the post corners and the edge of the hole.

Decide on the Appropriate Auger Length

Now that you’ve identified the type of soil you’ll be working with, you can move on to selecting the appropriate auger length.

In general, the height of your fence posts will determine the length of auger you’ll need.

For example, six-foot-high fence posts ideally need to be buried three feet into the ground and require an auger length of 12 inches.

Smaller posts may require a shorter auger and larger posts may require a longer auger.

Having a selection of augers is handy so you can use a 4-inch auger for little posts and a 7-inch auger for bigger ones.

With a 9-inch hole, you only have 1.675 inches between the post corners and the edge of the hole.

Depending on your needs, an 8-inch hole with a 3-inch post in it may be just enough. Ultimately, it’s important to choose the right size auger for your needs.

Understand the Different Handles and Auger Materials

Before making your final decision, it’s important to consider the materials that make up the handle and auger of your post-hole digger.

The handles are usually made of either fiberglass or wood, with fiberglass being the more durable option and easier to maintain.

The auger may also be constructed of either steel or composite material and can come in various shapes and sizes.

Steel is the most commonly used and is the strongest, but composite augers are lighter, more maneuverable, and provide better performance in softer soils.

It’s important to take these factors into consideration when selecting a post-hole digger.

Consider the Weight of the Post Hole Digger

When it comes to choosing the right post-hole digger, the weight of the machine is an important factor to consider.

If you plan on using your post-hole digger for more than just occasional use, it may be worth investing in a heavier model that can provide more power and durability.

Heavier post-hole diggers are usually made of metal and are designed to last longer and withstand more wear and tear.

Consider the weight of the post-hole digger and how comfortable you’ll feel using it for an extended period of time.

Identify Your Need for a Pivoting Head

In addition to the size of the post-hole digger bit, you should also identify your need for a pivoting head.

A pivoting head allows you to easily change the direction of the auger and can be especially useful in tight spots or when working with a curved fence line.

Many post-hole diggers have a manual pivoting head, but there are also options for electric models with an automatic pivoting head.

It’s important to determine if you need this feature before making your purchase.

Assess Your Need for an Extension Handle

Once you have determined the type of soil, estimated the total number of holes you need to dig, chosen an appropriate handle length, selected an ideal size of post-hole digger bit, and decided on the auger length, you may want to consider the need for an extension handle.

An extension handle is useful for digging deeper holes, and for providing more leverage when digging in hard ground.

Additionally, an extension handle can be helpful for minimizing back strain when digging multiple post holes.

When choosing an extension handle, make sure it is compatible with your post-hole digger and that it is the correct length and weight for your needs.

What Size Post Hole Digger Should I Buy for Different Digging Jobs?

When buying a post hole digger, consider the job size. For small garden projects, a 6-inch auger is sufficient. For medium tasks like fence posts, opt for an 8-inch model. Serious landscaping or construction work calls for a 12-inch digger. Choose wisely for efficient digging.

Review Your Options for an Electric Post Hole Digger

You have the choice of electric or gas-powered instead of a manual digger when you are looking for efficiency on larger jobs with many post holes.

For many, there is no substitute for gas-powered hardware as they provide solid and consistent performance over lengthy projects.

If you are looking to do loads of post holes I would suggest using a strong gas-performance piece of hardware in the powerful PROYAMA 54cc Post Hole Digger.

If you’ve determined the size of the job for your project is fairly limited you may want to consider the option of an electric post-hole digger to provide easy portability and simple power.

Electric post-hole diggers, like this Landworks Earth Auger Power Head, are ideal for those who need to drill multiple post holes in a short amount of time.

They are more powerful than manual post-hole diggers. They also tend to be lighter and more portable than gas-powered models.

Electric post-hole diggers come in various sizes, from small-diameter augers designed for shallow postholes to larger augers designed for deep holes.

When choosing an electric post-hole digger, it’s important to consider the size and weight of the unit, as well as its power source and power output.