Post Hole Digger & Auger Tips


Post hole diggers and augers are specifically designed to dig holes for posts. A post hole digger is the manual way to dig holes, where an auger will drill its way through the soil. Both tools will do the job, but to do it correctly takes a little bit of knowledge when using these contraptions.

Hole Width

  • Post hole diggers will make a hole large enough to insert a 4x4-inch post into the ground. But if you run into obstructions such as rocks and roots, and even buried debris from previous remodels, you will want to make the post hole about double the post size. This is easy to do with an auger because the standard size is 9 inches. A hole this size will give you room to get around the obstruction or remove it, and it will help you place the posts correctly by giving you some room for concrete.

Diggers Hotline

  • The most important part of a project is the safety aspect. Call Diggers Hotline to have your yard surveyed for electrical, gas and water lines before digging holes with a post hole digger or an auger. Hitting any one of these lines can cause major problems and possibly injury, turning a nice little fence project into a costly nightmare. Diggers Hotline is a free service.

Depth of a Hole

  • The rule of thumb for post hole depth is 3 feet. This prevents the post from moving in areas where the ground freezes in the winter, and provides post stability in all areas.

Widening a Hole

  • If your post's position needs to be adjusted you may need to widen the hole. Rotate the auger in the hole to increase its diameters. Use the post hole digger to shave the side the post needs to move toward until the side is straight and the depth of the hole is preserved. Remove loose dirt from the bottom.

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  • Photo Credit post hole digger image by Joann Cooper from
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