Thoughts On Life Blog

Easy Post Hole Digging

Digging 18 Post Holes

I undertook a recent trellis project that required me to dig 18 post holes, install fence posts and cement them into place. The picture above is the completed project.

I have dug post holes before and muscled thru it with the wrong shovel that was too wide and a heavy bar to smash through tough ground and stones.

While I got the job done, my hole was wider than it needed to be, and using the heavy bar to dig the entire hole took a lot of energy, and the job was a real tough chore.

When I cemented the pole into place, it also took more concrete than if the hole was narrow.

New Digging Tools

This time I made made sure I had the proper tools, to make digging the holes much easier. In the picture below are the three main tools I used.

The shovel is a Garant Pro drain spade I got from Home Depot. It’s about 6” wide, and they even make a trenching one that is only four inches wide.

This shovel allowed me to start the post hole. The skinny shovel makes for a skinny hole. It you have easy ground to dig, you can dig you hole entirely with this shovel.

But if you have hard ground with stones, the shovel will not work as well.

The Big Crowbar

That’s where the crowbar comes in. I got this one from my neighbour who said it was a railway bar that was used to move steel tracks into place. I’m guessing the weight is about 50 pounds. Most of my post holes required the use of the crowbar to loosen stones and hard ground.

I would use the crowbar to hit the edges of the hole and loosen the ground. I then would scoop out the earth, stones and debris by hand.

Garden Trowel Magic

The post holes I was digging were 2 and 3 feet deep. I would try to scrape out earth with my gloved hand, but I could not get much pressure on it. I thought that a garden 3 prong claw trowel would probably work well. We had one with a wooden handle about 12” long. It was fine, except when the post hole was deeper, and the long handle was not allowing me to dig the earth very well.

The handle needed to be shorter, so I cut it down, and the whole trowel was now about 6” long.

This worked perfect ! The trowel would work well deep into the hole. When the earth was not hard, this little tool, would easily dig two inches of earth in a few seconds. I then scooped it out by hand, and repeated the process until I hit stones or hard ground.

Then I would use the crowbar to loosen the stones, scoop out the material, and try the trowel again.

Smaller Hole

Using the skinny drain shovel, crowbar and the garden trowel, I found the my holes instead of being eight or more inches wide, were now about 6” wide.

Cementing the Posts

I then would cement the posts in place, that I mixed in a small wheel barrow.

The narrower hole needed less cement, and found I could cement two posts in with a bag and a half of cement, instead of using a bag per post hole.

Lower Cost Cement

I had used the quickcrete cement on other projects. This cement dries in about 30 minutes, so I was able to put the post in, and start working with it shortly after. This cement cost me about $15. a bag on previous projects.

I discovered that you can buy a slower drying cement that takes 24 hours to harden, and costs about half the price. With 18 holes to do, the cement savings on the slower hardening cement were worth waiting till the next day to start working on them.

Proper Tools

If you are going to be installing any fence posts, try out the post hole digging tools I used in this project. For me, it made the project a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.

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Richard Lepinsky Music
The phrase is simple and the words are few,
but behind them is a whole lot of appreciation.
Thank You’s from the Mission Ukulele Circle

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