How To Dig Post Holes

A posthole is a necessity when you're planning to get the perimeters of your home fenced, or you need to build a deck or patio around the house. Digging postholes is simple, but does require some backbreaking labor from you. In case, you don't really want to undertake all that physical activity, you could opt for a powered post-hole digger, but the process you need to follow remains the same, as you would do with a manual digger. Listed here are some of the instructions on how to dig the required number of postholes.

Step 1

Equipment required.

  • Post-hole digger (manual or powered)
  • Safety gloves, goggles and ear protection
  • Water
  • Foot long pipe or rebar
  • Hose

Step 2

Getting started. The width and depth of the posthole depends on the length and width of the post or fence pole you want fixed. Generally, a hole about two feet deep and one foot wide will suffice for a standard 4x4 pole. Mark out the places where the holes need to be dug, making sure to keep the appropriate space between holes, matching the measurements of your fence or deck setting plan.

Step 3

Preparing the ground. The digging will go easier and you can save your back some pain, by wetting the ground with water. This can be done about 6-8 hours beforehand, using a galvanized pipe or rebar to create small holes all over the digging area and then connecting a water hose and allowing water to soak the digging area thoroughly. This will make the ground soggy and easier to dig, when you begin the actual task.

Step 4

Making the hole. Use both hands to hold the two handles of the digger and drive it into the ground, to begin digging. At first, concentrate only on creating a deep and wide enough hole as per the measurements required. Should you encounter rocky terrain, break up the rocks as much as you can (a power digger helps, here).

Step 5

Scooping out the earth. Once the hole is deep and wide enough use the blades of the digger, to scoop out all the loose earth and bits of stone, lying in the pit. When all the loose dirt is removed, you can go ahead and install the poles in the holes dug.

Step 6

Precautions. When using a power digger, protect your eyes and ears in addition to your hands. Ensure you have adequate rest periods between digging holes (if you have to dig more than one). Keep your knees bent, while using the digger, so that you don't strain your back. Use your legs to push in the digger deep into the earth, when you first start digging. As more earth is loosened, you will find the digging and scooping process, become a little easier. More so, if you've softened the ground, by soaking it in water.

While you can undertake the task of digging postholes as a solo project, it is always preferable to have someone assist you, especially if you're using the power digger. Having two persons on the job will allow you to take turns with the digging, especially if the holes are meant for a long fence.


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