Getting Started with Post Hole Diggers

What is a Post Hole Digger?

A post hole digger is a tool that is used to dig a hole in which a fence post, or any other post can later be put into. They come in different sizes, shapes and types and so it will be up to you to choose the one that will best suit your individual need. Post hole diggers exist to make your work of digging post holes a whole lot easier. Using other tools like garden hoes or spades to dig a post hole, may make your work more cumbersome as they will not give you the desired cylindrical or deep hole needed for a post. That said, basic post hole diggers don’t require much expertise at all for you to be able to use them. They make your work so easy that you will take the least time possible to dig a post hole.

Post hole diggers help to ensure that holes are dug deep enough as post holes have to be deep to ensure a firm longevity. They also have long handles which makes it easy for you to pull out soil from the post hole that you are digging. If you are using a garden hoe for instance, you would find it difficult to use the hoe to remove soil from the narrow and cylindrical post hole. This is why it will be in your advantage to opt for a post hole digger to help you do the work quickly and efficiently.

The Different Uses for Post Hole Diggers

Sign Posts

If you need to put up sign post, why not use a post hole digger to make your work easy? Sign post holes have to be dug quite deep for them to hold the sign posts firmly, and there is no better tool to efficiently do this than a post hole digger. The long handles of the tool ensures that you will even reach the bottom of the hole to quickly remove the soil.

Multiple Fence Post Holes

Because they make your work easier you can use them to dig multiple fence post holes without getting too exhausted. This makes them ideal for digging fence post holes of large areas that need to be fenced e.g. schools, ranches, hospitals or any other institutions.

Solar Panel Posts

If you need to dig holes for your solar panel posts, the post hole digger will be your perfect tool of choice because you it allows you to dig holes that are deep, cylindrical, and with even sides. Solar panels are heavy and so need to be put on posts that are firmly installed in the ground leaving no chance of tumbling over. A solar panel post that is inserted into a hole dug by the use of a post hole digger will remain strong and firm on the ground.

Holes for your Plants

A post hole digger is not just limited to digging holes for posts, but can also be used to dig holes for planting your favourite plants. Your plants also need to be planted on evenly dug holes and the right tool to use to dig your plant’s holes is the post hole digger.

Outdoor Clothes Line

If you need to put up your clothes lines on posts that are standing firmly, then you should use a post hole digger. This is so because it will dig a deep hole that has its inside evenly shaped. Inserting your clothes line post in such a hole then covering it with soil makes it remain standing strongly and firmly in the ground.


How to use a Post Hole Digger

If you want your posts to be installed into the ground and for them to remain firm and strong, then you need to use a post hole digger for digging the holes you will install them into. If you are going to be fencing your homestead for instance and you wish to have strong and sturdy fence posts you will definitely need a post hole digger to do the job. Using this tool makes the work quick and easy for you in the long run. The steps below will help you be better acquainted on how to use a post hole digger.

1. It is important to check the consistency of the soil where you want to dig the holes

Analyzing the soil before proceeding to dig the hole is advisable as this will let you know the type of soil it is. Clay soil for instance needs a powered post hole digger while light sandy soil can be dug with just a manual post hole digger or an earth auger.

2. Mark the exact spot where you will dig the post hole

It is wise to measure and then mark the spot where you will dig the hole. In case of fence posts ensure that the measurements of each of the holes and alignment is done carefully for the fence to be seen straight.

3. It is better to dig holes on wet or moist soil

Digging post holes with a post hole digger is better after it has rained. This is so because the ground is soft and easier to dig when it is wet or moist. Alternatively because you don’t have to wait for it to rain as you can simply dampen the spot with water.

4. Insert the post hole digger into the ground

You can then use the weight of the post hole digger itself to make a hole in the ground. When doing this, do it with the jaws of the tool wide open and with enough effort push right into the ground.

5. Making the edge of the hole with the post hole digger

The post hole digger needs to lifted and dropped a number of times to make the outer edge of the post hole. You should do this until the hole is made to at least 1 foot in diameter then thereafter you can continue downwards to your desired depth.

6. Making the post hole deeper

You can achieve this by plunging the post hole digger into the hole repeatedly and pulling out soil. For posts that are around 4 feet high, a hole that is 1 foot deep should be enough to support it well. If your posts are 8 feet high then digging holes that are 2 feet deep is required to do the trick.


Difference Between Post Hole Diggers and Post Hole Augers

Before erecting a post into the ground you will have to either dig or drill a hole in which you will then insert the post into. Traditionally and long before post hole diggers were invented, people used hoes to dig holes which they would later insert posts into. The main problem with using a hoe to do this is however, is that holes dug with a hoe are usually too wide, and this usually prevents the inserted posts from being firm and erect in the ground. In order to overcome this drawback, post hole diggers and post hole augers were invented. Holes dug by either of the tools are usually of desirable depth and circumference. Not only that, but these tools are faster, easier to use and much more convenient.

Although they are sometimes used interchangeably, differences do exist between post hole diggers and post hole augers. Read on as we discuss.

Post Hole Augers

Hiltex 10525 Electric Earth Auger with 4 Inch Bit
The Hiltex 10525 Electric Earth Auger with 4 Inch Bit

Post hole augers feature an helical bit (resembling screws) and use a drilling motion in order to make holes into the ground. This allows them to work fast and efficiently giving you the convenience you want. You should not however think that with a post hole auger all the work will be that easy and free of any issues. You will also encounter certain problems when using them as well.

Mechanized post hole augers can be difficult to control, especially if you are a newbie. It would be advisable to enlist the help of an expert to come and assist you.

Another problem with post hole augers is that they are not usually very good at penetrating soils that are full of stones and clay.

Post Hole Diggers

Ames Dig EZ Post Hole Digger
The Ames Dig EZ Post Hole Digger

Post hole digger differs greatly in shape and look from the post hole auger. They have blades which do the work of penetrating the ground. The blades are usually attached to the tool’s handles which may be wooden or sometimes metallic. Cheaper post hole diggers are often manually operated by the hands (though motorized diggers do exist) and are very common in farms.

Manual post hole diggers are not ideal for use in a very large digging project because they are powered by human energy. This leaves them only suited for doing light post hole digging work like just digging a dozen holes at your home or small farm.

Some post hole digger’s blades have also been found to wear out to soon but the good thing is that the blades can be replaced and new ones affixed.


The One Man vs Two Man Post Hole Digger

Machine powered post hole diggers usually come in two main variations which are the one man and two man post hole diggers. Machine powered post hole diggers are ideal for projects that will need various post holes to be dug fast and efficiently.

The one man post hole digger has a rather smaller engine which can be easily operated by just one person. It is light in weight and just needs a small downward force for it to get started with the digging of a post hole.

The two man post hole digger has a bigger engine compared to the one man counterpart. It also requires more downward force for its auger to get started digging a post hole. This is why it is fitted with up to four handles for two people to be able to handle it when in use.

Let us now take a deep look each of the machine’s different features one on one:

One Man Post Hole Digger

The one man post hole digger usually has only two handles that is designed for handling by just one person. They feature a gas powered engine that overly powerful but are lighter in weight. These diggers are specialized for digging small diameter holes in the range of 2-inches. They usually come with interchangeable augers of these dimensions: 4, 6, and 8 inches.

The engines that power one man post hole diggers are usually two stroke and therefore use gas mixed with oil as the fuel to power them. This is the reason behind them making loud noises and so when operating them you may need to put on earmuffs to help you reduce the noise. You will use a one man post hole digger to dig small sized posth oles for your home’s fence posts. They will not perform well on ground that is full of rocks and tree roots. This means that before using the on -man post hole digger, you have clear the ground of any rocks that may hamper your work when you start.

Two Man Post Hole Digger

The two man post hole digger usually has a bigger engine that is more powerful enabling t to be used with various and even larger augers that can drill bigger holes. The two man post hole digger has a four-stroke engine type which makes less noise compared to the two-stroke engine that is used in most one man post hole diggers. It must be noted though that the two man has got a more powerful torque because of its powerful engine hence why it must be operated by two people.

Two man post hole diggers are ideal for use in heavy duty projects where a large amount of post holes are to be dug. It is also used by big farms to dig holes for planting certain types of crops or by commercial advertising firms that need to bore holes for inserting posts for their billboards.


The Manual vs Motorized Post Hole Digger

A manual post hole digger is powered by the human hand for it to be able to work. A motorized post hole digger on the other hand has an engine that powers it which does most of the work for you.

Let’s discuss both these applications in further detail.

Different Types of Manual Post Hole Diggers

1. Traditional Post Hole Digger

This is the original post hole digging tool and is always very simple in its design. It is of course manually operated and its main components consist of two rounded blades that facing each other, bolted to a wooden handle that is pivoted at some point. It is operated by the hands in which the users must apply some downward pressure for it to be able to dig the post hole.

2. Scissor-action Post Hole Digger

It is also sometimes referred to as a split-handled post hole digger. The handles cross over each other and resemble a pair of scissors. This type of manual post hole digger differs from other in the sense that it has its blades welded together to a steel tube which mark the end of the handles. Wooden handles are then inserted on the tube ending of the blades and then bolted to fasten them. This kind of manual post hole digger is well suited for digging into a rocky surface because it is very unlikely that the welded blades will break away from handles’ end.

3. Universal Manual Post Hole Digger

This is also referred to as the Boston Post Hole Digger. It has a unique appearance from the other manual post hole diggers. Its uniqueness is that it has handles that are totally different from each other in both size and shape. It has one handle that is long and straight, while the other handle is short and has a sort of a lever allowing it to bend out to the side.

The universal manual post hole digger also works very differently too. The ground is punctured and loosened by one blade, while the other is used to pick up the soil.

4. Double-pivot Post Hole Digger

The Double-pivot Post Hole Digger features two pivot points instead of one (which is a common feature of most post hole diggers. With its double pivots, this post hole digger works in a direct opposite way to most traditional diggers. Once the blades are pushed into the ground its handles are pushed together to clasp the soil instead of being pulled apart.

The extra pivot also works to prevent it from being able to opened too widely and this in effects allows the digger to dig deep holes that are also narrow.

5. Offset Post Hole Digger

The offset post hole digger usually has straight handles which are placed closely together. This type of manual post hole digger allows the digger to exert less effort and is ideal for light duty.

Motorized Post Hole Diggers

Motorized post hole diggers, as mentioned above, are powered by an engine which does most of the work for you.

They often make your digging easy, faster, and much more convenient. They are very common in farms, industrial projects, and commercial projects. Most of the time you will find them being used to bore holes for billboard posts or for a large scale fencing project. Manual post hole diggers would consume too much time and are not ideal for such large scale projects.

Motorized post hole diggers are generally much more expensive than their manual counterparts, but their cost go hand in hand with efficiency and convenience.

There are two main types of motorized post hole diggers: gas powered post hole diggers and hydraulic post hole diggers. Gas powered post hole diggers use gasoline to be able to function. They have a shaft that is attached to an auger which is rotated by the gasoline powered engine. These engines have two main variations, which are:

The two stroke engine

This is usually affordable but produces much noise and is not that powerful.  Oil and gas is mixed together therefore more exhaust gases are emitted from the digger. It is ideal for light post hole digging work.

The four stroke engine

This is more advanced, more powerful and produces less noise than the two stroke engine. You don’t have to mix gas with oil so there is no heavy pollution of the air as is the case of the two-stroke engine.

Other variations you will find with gas powered post hole diggers are the one man post hole digger and the two man post hole digger. The one man earth diggers are ideal for digging just a few dozen holes and as the name suggests can be operated by only one person. They are light in weight and do not need much labor to be operated.

The two man earth diggers on the other hand are required to be operated by two people. These are often used on slightly bigger projects and can dig bigger holes compared to the one-man earth augers. They are heavier and need two people to operate them because they are for heavy duty projects.

Motorized Hydraulic Post Hole Diggers

Hydraulic post hole diggers are categorized as motorized post hole digging equipment. They are mostly used for heavy duty projects by farmers, industrial contractors, and commercial contractors. You will find that they are usually either mounted on the front part of tractors or the back. However, there are some variations of motorized hydraulic post hole diggers that are not tractor mounted and are usually operated by the hands.


Types of Post Hole Diggers

1. The Gas Powered Post Hole Digger

A post hole digger is a tool used to dig holes for posts to be installed, just as the name suggests. These tools usually come in different sizes and types. The most common types of post hole diggers are those that are hand operated, meaning that they are not mechanized and you have to use your energy to make it do the work for you. Alternatively however, a gas powered post hole digger are powered by means of gas powered engines. Usually you will find a gas powered post hole digger being used to dig post holes for domestic purposes including holes for fencing, for medium sized construction projects, or for other practicable post hole digging applications. In cases where multiple post holes need to be dug, a gas powered post hole digger is the best bet. They help to save your time, money and the fatigue you could suffer as a result of heavy work.

How a Gas Powered Post Hole Digger Work?

Gas powered post hole diggers are mechanized and have engines that power them unlike manual post hole diggers that rely on human muscles and effort to do the work. The engines of the gas powered post hole digger use gasoline to rotate a shaft that is attached to the blades. When the shaft in which the blades are attached to is turned by the gas powered engine, they dig into the ground, creating a hole. Gas powered post hole diggers come in small, medium and large engines.

The larger gas powered post hole digger engines are often used to drill even more hard and solid ground but will need more than one person to operate. There are two types of gas powered post hole digging engines which are two-stroke and four-stroke engines. Two-stroke engines are affordable but tend make a lot of noise, and also when being operated the gas needs to be mixed with oil. The four-stroke engine is more advanced but will cost you more compared to the two-stroke gas engine. With the four stroked engine type there is minimal noise when compared the 2-stroked engine. You will also not need to mix oil and gasoline in the 4-stroke engine.

Applications of a Gas Powered Post Hole Digger

Gas powered post hole diggers are often used to drill post holes in the ground for numerous activities such as post holes for fences, commercial sign posts, for solar panel posts etc. The gas powered post hole digger comes in handy when a narrow and shallow post hole is desired. Hand powered post hole diggers are less costly than the gas powered types. This fact makes them not readily available in homes of most people. The good thing is that there are a number of home gardening shops that do the business of renting gas powered post hole diggers to their customers. If you need to use these machines only for one time projects then renting one will be the best deal for you. Otherwise, you might consider purchasing your own online.

Types of Gas Powered Post Hole Diggers

There are various types of gas powered post hole diggers with different heights, sizes, and brands. There are two main types are the one man gas powered post hole digger and the two-man gas powered post hole digger.

A post hole digger that has a bigger and more powerful engine will require two people to operate it, while that with a smaller engine may just be operated by one man. A one man gas powered post hole digger is usually highly portable due to its size and it’s light weight. It is therefore ideal for use in light duties that involve just digging small and few holes. You will find quite effective and efficient when you have to work alone in a project that is small or medium sized.

The two man gas powered post hole digger on the other hand has to be operated by two people because it is large, heavy and more powerful. This type of gas powered pos thole digger is usually suited for larger and heavier projects.

How to use a Gas Powered Post Hole Digger

  • First mark the spot where you will want to dig the post hole.
  • You will then dig an initial hole which should be of the same size as that of the gas auger.
  • You can then start the engine and then lower the auger slowly on to the initial ground that you had previously marked. As it continues to bore the hole into the ground you can increase the throttle as required.
  • It is helpful to read the user’s manual in order to acquaint yourself with any machine before attempting to use it.

Popular Brands of Gas Post Hole Diggers

There are various brands of gas powered post hole diggers available on the market that are manufactured by different companies. All of these brands have their very own unique advantages. Check out the list below:

1. Earthquake Augers

Earthquake Augers is a company that makes various machinery including the E-43 one-person gas powered gas powered post hole digger.

2. Ground Hog

Ground Hog is also another popular company that makes high reliable gas powered post hole diggers. Their products have reliable speed, forward and reverse auger rotation, ideal for drilling uneven terrain and several other amazingly good features.

3. XtremepowerUS

XtremePowerUS is another reputable company that specializes in the manufacture of top quality gas powered post hole diggers that are reliable, versatile and highly dependable. There is the XtremepowerUS V – Type 55CC 2 which is a two-stroke posthole digger which is quite powerful.

4. General Series

General Series boasts of a wide range of high quality portable post hole digging equipment. Their gas powered post hole diggers come in variations of one and two-man held post hole diggers.

5. Honda

Honda is a arge company renowned worldwide for its manufacture of high quality machinery. The company also makes premium quality gas powered post hole diggers that are easy to carry and operate.


It is an American company that makes a variety of small machinery including lightweight gas powered post hole diggers.


2. The Hand Held Post Hole Digger

A hand held post hole digger, as the name suggests are manually operated by the hands. They usually require your effort to get the hole dug. They are not ideal for very large and heavy duty digging projects which require lots of holes to be dug. Hand held post hole diggers are beneficial in farming – digging holes for plants, or digging holes to put up fences. Most hand held post hole diggers resemble the traditional types which have two handles attached together by a bolt. On each of the handles blades are fixed with bolts.

Tips for using a Hand Held Post Hole Digger

Hand held post hole diggers are designed particularly for the purpose of digging post holes and therefore using them will enable you to dig with minimal effort. Below are some things that you need to consider however before starting off:

  • It is difficult to use hand held post hole diggers on surfaces that are rocky are hard. A stone beneath the surface of the soil may prevent the blades from digging deeper.
  • Soils that are very loose, sandy or dry may be hard to remove because clamping of such soils with the blades is not that easy. This is why it may be better to first water the spot you wish dig into before proceeding.
  • Hand held post hole diggers can only dig holes that are up to 3 quarters of the length of their handles. This means that if you need to dig deepe rhole you will have to use a digger that is longer.

You can start digging by holding the tool on the handles closely together

You can then thrust the blades right into the ground so that it makes a spot. Sometimes if the soil is too hard the blades of the post hole digger may not easily penetrate it. You’ll have to repeat the process until you penetrate the ground completely, and continue until the desired hole is achieved.

Open the handles wide apart for you to capture the soil

This will allow you to be able to pick up the soil from the hole and place the soil on the side of the hole. You will repeat this procedure numerous times until all the soil is completely out of the hole.

NB: You certainly will want to keep the soil you dug from the hole for later use in backfilling when you will have installed the fence post.

The Bottom Line

Hand held post hole diggers help to make the work of digging holes a lot easier and convenient. They are usually perfect for light post hole digging work like digging just a few holes for your fence or planting crops.


3. The Hydraulic Post Hole Digger

Post hole diggers come in different types which include: hand held, gas powered, tractor and hydraulic post hole diggers. Each of these various types of post hole diggers has their own advantages and drawbacks. In this article, we will discuss the hydraulic post hole digger, which in most instances are often tractor mounted. Hydraulic post hole diggers are often used by farmers, nurserymen, ranchers, and fencing companies. This is so because they help to dig post holes quickly, effectively and efficiently. Unlike hand held post hole diggers which may take your time and effort, hydraulic post hole diggers will do the work for you.

So when do Hydraulic Post Hole Diggers come in handy?

Hydraulic post hole diggers are often mounted on tractors and thus powered by those powerful machines. What this means is that they are able to dig post holes even on very hard solid ground, that hand held post hole diggers may not perform well in. Take a rocky surface for instance, if you are using a hand held post hole digger on such a surface, the work may be hard, exhausting and even impossible. A hydraulic post hole digger however, will do the work well, and even if the auger gets stuck, its rotational direction can easily be changed to get it out of the ground.

There are times when trying to get to penetrate the ground is not easy as the blades of the post hole digger remains a tough nut to crack. This usually occurs for lack of what is called the down pressure. When using a hydraulic post hole digger, the hydraulics of the machine will be used to apply that needed downward pressure especially on very hard ground or rocky surfaces.

Hydraulic post hole diggers also have the capacity to dig even deeper post holes more than the other types. This is so because they are powerful and have the downward pressure necessary to push the auger deep down into the ground. They are engineered in such a way that they can dig deeper, faster and smarter, thus helping to save on time giving you the desired convenience.

Common Applications of Hydraulic Post Hole Diggers

Hydraulic post hole diggers can be used by farmers, ranchers, or advertising companies who need to drill holes that they use to plant crops, erect fence poles, or billboard posts respectively. The machines usually offer fast service and efficiency.

Hydraulic Post Hole Digger Specifications, Dimensions and Usage

The augers that are used in hydraulic post hole diggers differ in sizes and shapes according the various functions for which they are intended for. A compact hydraulic post hole digger for instance should be fitted with an auger that is up to 12 inches wide. If you need to use a larger auger on this machine, it is advisable to first use a smaller auger to make a pilot hole. This is done to make the work easier for the larger auger that will be used later to drill the hole.


4. The Tractor Post Hole Digger

A tractor post hole digger comes in handy when there are holes to be dug for agricultural purposes, especially when you need to bore holes in your garden to plant certain types of crops. It must be noted that tractor post hole diggers use augers instead of blades that are commonly used in hand held of post hole diggers. These augers used in tractor post hole diggers also vary in sizes, types, strength and quality. You are advised go for standard augers that are made from high quality materials that will not wear out easily with regular use. There are a variety of standard augers that you can possible get out there with diameters ranging from 4 up to 30 inches or even more.

Below are some standard auger options for tractor post hole diggers:

1. Orchard Augers

These augers specially designed for use mainly in orchards and nursery. You will find their diameters range between, 16, 18, 24, and 30 inches, while the length is often a standard of 30 inches. These augers should have their pointed parts made of high quality iron or steel to ensure durability and reduce quick wear. A good quality orchard auger should have its cutting teeth made from very strong steel and also replaceable for when they wear out.

2. Rock Augers

These augers are designed for use on very hard and rugged ground, i.e. solid rock areas, loose rock areas, and clay soil areas. They are made from tough iron or steel to ensure their ability to penetrate the hard rock surfaces they drill through when they are in use. Rock augers range in diameter dimensions of between 4 to about 30 inches. A good rock auger should also have replaceable teeth for when it becomes worn out.

3. Down Pressure Kits

These are ideal for heavy duty post hole digging projects such as drilling holes for billboards that have extremely large diameters. These are often preferred by commercial advertising companies that use such augers on tractors to drill holes for their advertising billboards. These can be used on hard rock surfaces, on arid areas, semi-frozen ground and rocky ground surfaces.

Benefits of a Tractor Post Hole Digger

A tractor post hole digger has numerous benefits over hand held post hole diggers in many different ways. These are discussed below:

  • Saves you time.
  • Can be used to bore holes on any ground surface be it solid, rocky, or wet ground.
  • Can be used in drilling multiple holes for large scale post hole digging projects.
  • Most of the augers used can easily be replaced when they are worn out.


  • They are more expensive post hole diggers.
  • They need gas to be able to work.


Buying the Right Post Hole Digger

  1. Read our reviews to determine which post hole digger will be right for you.
  2. View our rankings of the best manual post hole diggers available.
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