How to Get Through Hard Dirt & Roots

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.

Things You'll Need

  • Pickax

  • Electric tiller

Sometimes, a shovel is not enough to get through hard dirt and roots.

Various tasks -- from planting to installing a mail post -- require digging through dirt. Unfortunately, not all soil is soft and easy to dig. Digging through hard dirt and roots can be a difficult process when using normal gardening tools. Shovels do little to break up compacted and hard soil and merely nick the invasive roots instead of chopping through them. Fortunately, different methods work both to break up tough soil and get through roots easier than using a shovel.


Step 1

Wait until after a heavy rain to dig the dirt. The water will soften the hard dirt, making digging the area easier. Alternatively, pour water over the soil and wait until it is absorbed before digging. Continue adding water to the area until you can dig through the hard soil.

Video of the Day

Step 2

Break up hard soil with a pick. Pickaxes -- sometimes called a pick -- feature a sharp tip at the end that -- when swung from over the shoulder and down into the ground -- breaks apart the soil. Pickaxes also help to chop through roots.


Step 3

Rent an electric tiller from a home improvement store or tool rental center and till the hard dirt. Tillers feature rotating blades that cut through tough dirt, breaking it into softer soil. Tillers also cut through small to medium-size roots.

Step 4

Dig through frozen dirt by thawing it with hot water. Boil gallons of water on the stove and carefully pour over the area of frozen soil you want to dig. Dig with a pickax until you meet resistance and add more boiling water.


Video of the Day

Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...