Garden & Lawn

6 Best Post and Planting Hole Diggers, Manual and Powered

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Building fences, installing Driveway Security Posts and planting trees is tough, hard work but using the right post hole digger at least makes excavating the holes easier. Whether you choose one of the manual, the cordless or the petrol-powered models from our review, you’ll use less time and effort than with a shovel.

We review manual, cordless and petrol garden earth augers by listing their pros and cons and discussing their features and our recommendation. Our Buyer’s Guide details the issues to consider when making your purchase decision.

Best Pick – Manual

Faithfull FAIPHA6 Post Hole Auger
The Faithfull FAIPHA6 Post Hole Auger is an earth auger rather than a traditional post hole digger. We chose it as it’s really so much easier to turn a handle to screw the auger bit into the ground than to push the tongs of a digger into the ground, open them and then pull them up. This is a simple tool that digs holes 15cm wide to a depth of 110cm. The unit is all in one piece except for the bare ash wood handle that fits in at the top. You do need to wear gloves to avoid blisters when using this auger. This is our choice for those who need to make just a few post holes.

Best Pick – Cordless

SuperHandy Electric Auger Cordless
The SuperHandy Electric Auger Cordless provides a good balance between weight and power. The 40V Lithium-ion battery (included with a charger) powers the 15cm wide auger bit at 325rpm to drill holes down to a maximum depth of 75cm. This battery auger can go through more dense soil than a manual auger but it still doesn’t cope well with heavily compacted soil. But at least you don’t have to turn the handle at all. In fact, the ergonomic handles have soft silicone grips that stop you from getting blisters as well as keep your hands in the best guiding position. With a capacity of drilling 30 holes on one battery charge, this cordless electric auger makes short work of domestic fence post projects.

Best Pick – Petrol

T-Mech Petrol Earth Auger Drill
This petrol post hole digger comes with everything you need (except the fuel) to go out and start drilling your fence post holes. The 52cc engine is the standard size for most domestic projects and gives a maximum 9000 rpm turning power. Along with the three auger bits (100mm, 150mm and 200mm diameter) and 60cm extension pole, you receive all the tools and equipment for you to set up and safely use this hole digger. The large fuel tank (1.5L) means that you can work away without frequently stopping to refuel. This is a great choice if you have large or many post hole projects to complete.

Manual Post Hole Diggers Reviews

If you have just a few holes to make, consider doing them by hand.

1. Faithfull FAIPHA6 Post Hole Auger

Best Pick – Manual

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Faithfull FAIPHA6 Post Hole Auger 6In Dia

The Faithfull FAIPHA6 Post Hole Auger is a true earth auger as the blade is in the shape of a screw and it twists down into the ground. Lifting out the auger brings the loosened earth out with it. This digger comes in two pieces – a wooden handle that fits horizontally through a metal tube at the top of the metal pole that has the auger bit at the other end.

The handle slides easily into the holding tube and you manually rotate it clockwise to bore down into the ground. If you’re drilling down close to a fence or other obstacle, just move the handle along a bit in its holder so that it easily goes by the obstacle. As this is all a manual process and the handle is bare wood without any soft grips, be sure to wear padded gardening gloves to avoid blisters on your hands.

The auger bit is permanently attached to the pole so it’s the only one you can use. It creates holes that are 15cm in diameter (that’s a standard size for fence posts). You can drill down to 110cm as that’s the length of the metal pole. But you will have to bend over and then be on your knees to reach down to this depth.

As with all manual auger tools, the Faithfull FAIPHA6 is best used on loosely compacted soil or sand, and with only small stones present as it is powered by your own strength.

Pros

  • Manual post hole auger whose drill bit uses a “screw” motion to dig down into the ground.
  • Drill bit (attached) is 38cm long and 15cm in diameter.
  • Handle is a horizontal wooden rod that attaches at the top of the 110cm metal rod and drill bit.
  • Rotate the handle in a clockwise direction to bore down.

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy or clogged soils.
  • No soft grips on the handles.

Our recommendation

The Faithfull FAIPHA6 Post Hole Auger is the Best Manual Pick of the post hole drillers in our review. We like its simplicity and that you can drill down deep to place a fence post. You do have to provide your own gloves to stop blisters and chafing on your hands, but that’s true of many garden tools. This driller is best on soft soils though you could use it on more solid ground if you have the upper body strength.


2. Taylor & Brown Manual Adjustable Hand Drill

Best Pick – Budget

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Taylor & Brown Manual Adjustable Hand Drill Spiral Steel Ground Digger Earth Auger Bulb Planter Garden Fence Post Holder, 10CM Diameter

The Taylor & Brown Manual Adjustable Hand Drill is also a post hole driller available at a budget price. Surprisingly, it has some excellent ergonomic and convenient features for its inexpensive cost.

Constructed throughout of durable manganese steel, this post hole digger comes in three parts. The handle has rubber grips for your hands so your palm skin is protected from blisters and chafes. The non-slip grips keep your hands in place as you turn the handle, even through tough soil.

The second part of the digger is an extension pole. Using this lets you bend over less as you use the tool. The bottom part is the auger bit itself. The bit makes holes that are 10cm in diameter, so this Taylor and Brown model is a good choice if you need to make holes smaller than the usual 15cm wide. 

Taking all this together, you can drill down to 60cm in relative comfort. Whilst this is not as deep as our Best Pick – Manual post hole drill, it’s deep enough for a 1.2m to 1.8m high fence (depth at 1/3 to ½ the fence height). But as the pole is quite short, you do have to bend over to use this. So be careful about backaches and strains.

Pros

  • Manual post hole driller that uses a screw action to make the hole.
  • Constructed of manganese steel.
  • Bar handle has soft rubber hand grips for more comfortable use.
  • Comes in three parts – the handle, drill bit and extension pole.
  • Hole diameter is 10cm.
  • With extension pole, drills down to 60cm.

Cons

  • Have to bend over to use this.
  • Not suitable for heavy or clogged soils.

Our recommendation

The Taylor & Brown Manual Adjustable Hand Drill is our choice for Best Budget Pick in our post hole driller review. It comes with some great features – you can take it apart for storage, the handles are ergonomically designed and you have a choice of drilling pole length for convenience. It’s best suited to loosely compacted soils. And for those people who have only a few holes of 10cm to dig, adults do have to bend over to use this tool.


3. Spear and Jackson PHD-WH Landscaping and Fencing Post Hole Digger

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Spear and Jackson PHD-WH Landscaping and Fencing Post Hole Digger, Blue

The Spear and Jackson PHD-WH Landscaping and Fencing Post Hole Digger is the most basic manual earth drill. It works like a pair of BBQ or salad tongs in that you open the blades up, push the tool into the ground and then close the tongs as much as you can over the earth between them before lifting up the tool. You can imagine that this digger works best in loose soil or sand.

The oval shovel blades are made of hardened steel that is strong enough to hold the dirt and stones between them. Online reviewers report that the two blades don’t close completely, so expect some leakage of dry soil when you lift the tool out of the ground. The handles are of solid ash wood which is a sturdy material. The handles are also long enough so you don’t have to bend over too much to use this digger.

On the advice of users of this Spear and Jackson, check and even loosen the bolts before you use them the first time. If they’re too tightly screwed in they may crack the handle.

The outer diameter of the blades is 15cm so that’s the minimum size hole that you can make. This is a good size for a 4 by 4 fence post, though. This is quite a heavy tool, so take that into consideration if you have a lot of fence posts holes to drill.

Note that at the time of writing (September 2021), the price of this post hole driller bundled with a handy 3-D Silverline SL05 Post Level is less than the post digger alone.

Pros

  • Post hole digger that operates like a pair of BBQ tongs.
  • Oval mouth shovel made of two hardened steel blades.
  • Long handles are made of solid ash wood.
  • Works by enclosing dirt between blades which you then lift out.
  • Blade: 120mm (width) by 230mm (length); 140mm (maximum open width)
  • Handle: 147cm (length)

Cons

  • Handle bends a bit.
  • Shovel edges do not meet and leave a gap between them.

Our recommendation

The Spear and Jackson PHD-WH Landscaping and Fencing Post Hole Digger is a basic earth shovel that you push straight down into the loose ground, close the shovel blades and then lift up. There’s no auger action to help you push it into the ground so its use on the packed ground depends solely on your strength. This is a useful companion tool, however, to remove soil from post holes that you’ve made using an auger tool.


Cordless Post Hole Diggers

If you’re looking for some powered help with your fence post hole digging, these two cordless (battery) earth augers replace the manual part of the labour.

4. SuperHandy Electric Auger Cordless

Best Pick – Cordless

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SuperHandy Electric Auger Cordless Power Head Heavy Duty Eco-Friendly w/Steel 6'x30' Earth Auger Lithium Ion Battery & Charger for Earth Burrowing/Drilling & Post Hole Digging (Earth Auger 6' Set)

The SuperHandy Electric Auger Cordless has a Lithium-ion 2Ah 40V battery (included with a charger) to power your post hole digging. Many online reviewers report that they use this auger for drilling holes in thick ice for ice fishing, so you know that it can handle different types of soils with ease.

This SuperHandy battery driller has a 3-planetary system gear mechanism that gives higher transmission efficiency. This converts the battery power into more turning power for the auger bit. The manufacturers’ claim that you can drill 30 holes on a fully charged battery, so you won’t have to stop and recharge often, on even the largest fencing projects. This is a relatively lightweight earth auger (10kg) and the 325rpm speed means that you won’t have to press heavily on the tool to push it into the ground.

The auger bit is 15cm in diameter and 75cm long. This is a good diameter for a 4 by 4 fence post. There’s no extension pole so this is the maximum depth that you can drill holes to. However, the auger has the universal Cap Screw Bolt thread design so you could use a different and longer auger bit on the same tool body if needed.

The handles of this cordless earth auger are widely spaced for balance and your comfort. The ergonomic silicone grips enable you to grip the handles with ease and without getting blisters as you direct the auger downwards. And as this auger stops when it hits a rock or solid surface, you won’t be jolted by the auger shaking wildly.

The safety and power buttons are well placed together on the handle so you don’t have to keep shifting your hand to press one or the other. The steel alloy blades are tough and durable and the reverse torque setting lets you change the direction of drilling to smoothly bring the auger out of the hole.

Pros

  • Two-handled steel cordless auger with a brushless motor.
  • Lithium-ion battery (48V, 2Ah) and charger are included.
  • Weighs 10kg including the battery.
  • Earth auger bit is 76cm long with a diameter of 15cm.
  • Fully charged battery handles 30 holes.
  • Transmission overload protector makes electronic quick stops to prevent the power head from overheating.
  • Higher transmission efficiency due to the 3-Planetery Gear mechanism.
  • Wide-spaced handles have ergonomic silicone grips.
  • Power trigger and safety release are situated close together.
  • Maximum speed is 325rpm.
  • Shaft diameter is 2cm.
  • Universal cap screw bit fastening.
  • Carbon coated alloy steel blades.
  • Reverse torque control to easily remove the auger from the hole.

Cons

  • Battery drains quickly in compacted soil.

Our recommendation

The SuperHandy Electric Auger Cordless is our Best Cordless Pick in this review. It’s a mobile tool with the added convenience of being powered by a 2Ah, 40V battery that’s reported to dig 30 holes on a single battery charge. This auger is ergonomically designed for comfort, balance and safety. If the 15cm diameter auger bit isn’t always the right size for you, the universal connection allows you to use other standard auger drills bits. This is a post hole driller that handles most domestic and small commercial projects.


5. G Earth Auger Post Hole Digger

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G Earth Auger Post Hole Digger Post Auger Earth Auger 48V Lithium Ion Battery Powered 6'' Earth Borer Borer Earth Auger Hole Digger Drill Bit World First Cordless Battery Powered Earth Auger

The G Earth Auger Post Hole Digger is another cordless (battery) garden auger and it’s similar to our Cordless Best Pick However, it’s a bit more expensive and doesn’t have as many online reviews (as of September 2021). But it has many of the same features.

This G Earth auger is made of carbon-coated steel for durability and the blades are of strong alloy steel. Backing up this impressive digging ability is the power of the 40V, 2Ah Lithium-ion battery. This power is transmitted efficiently by the 3-planetary gearbox down to the auger bit for easy hole drilling.

The auger drill bit is 15cm in diameter which is a good size to put in the most common size of fence posts. The length of the drill bit is 75cm, so that’s the maximum depth you can go down to. This is usually deep enough for most domestic fences. If it’s not, you can switch out the auger bit for a longer one as the connection to the auger body is through the standard threaded Socket Cap Bolt method.

The handles are ergonomically designed to be spaced just far enough so your hands aren’t too close together or too far apart. Your hands are protected from too many vibrations and rubbing by the soft silicone rubber grips, which are also non-slip. You won’t lose control of this powered auger.

The power trigger and the safety button release are within easy reach on one handle – you don’t have to fumble around to press them in case of any emergency. The overload protector in this unit is another safety feature that stops the auger from overheating. It’s also there as an electronic quick stop in case the auger gets stuck and just keeps on spinning.

Pros

  • Cordless post hole digger with a brushless motor for efficiency and smoothness.
  • MAX Lithium-ion battery (included) is 48V and 2Ah and comes with the battery charger.
  • Gear box is 3-planetary system.
  • Universal thread design – cap/screw/bolt.
  • Overload protector stops the auger from overheating.
  • Auger bit is 15cm in diameter and 75cm long and is made of carbon-coated steel and alloy steel blades.
  • Ergonomic handles are spaced apart and have silicone grips for comfort and convenience.
  • Control buttons (power and safety) are close together on the handle.

Our recommendation

The G Earth Auger Post Hole Digger provides all the same features as our Best Cordless Pick, but it’s slightly more expensive (as of September 2021) and less reviewed. Its ergonomic design (handles, balance, switch placement) lets you use this lightweight auger with ease and comfort. The 15cm diameter auger produces the most standard size post hole. This earth auger handles most domestic post hole projects handily.


Petrol Power

For even more power and a larger auger bit selection, look into a petrol-driven post hole digger.

 6. T-Mech Petrol Earth Auger Drill

Best Pick – Petrol

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T-Mech Petrol Earth Auger Drill Garden Earth Borer Post Hole Digger Borer, 52cc, 3HP, Petrol, 1.2 L | Pole and Accessories included | 9000 RPM

We review the T-Mech Petrol Earth Auger Drill along with five other petrol-powered post hole diggers in our 6 Best Petrol Augers For Drilling Post Holes article. Please head over there for plenty of information and recommendations about these most powerful garden earth augers.


Buyer’s Guide

The right post hole digger for you depends mainly on the projects you use it for and on your own strength to use it. Our Buyer’s Guide details some points for you to consider when making the best decision for yourself.

What’s your soil like?

Post hole auger remove soil for posts

Some soils are easier to drill into than others. Loosely compacted soil and sand don’t take much effort to move as long as they have only a few small stones. Manual post drillers would work in these conditions. More densely compacted soils, especially clay, need more power to twist the auger drill into them so look at a powered post driller instead. Petrol drillers are more powerful than electric ones and will drill faster and through more compacted soil.

How many post holes do you need to dig?

If the answer is more than a few, forget about manual diggers and look immediately to buying a powered one. Many people underestimate the amount of time and effort associated with digging a hole. So don’t start out with good intentions and a manual tool only to go out after one or two hard days of digging (and a sore back) and buy a cordless or petrol one.

Manual post hole diggers are easy to use put take more effect than petrol and electric but easier than using a spade

What size hole do you need?

The diameter of the hole needs to be larger than the size of your fence post as you need to fill around the post (backfill, concrete etc.) to hold it securely. Your auger bit should be wide enough for this but there’s no standard answer as to how wide that should be.

The accepted wisdom for the depth of the hole is that it should be 1/3 to ½ the height of the above-ground part of the fence post. So, if your fence post is 1.8m above ground, your post hole needs to be from 60cm to 90cm deep.

Be sure to carefully check the dimensions of any post hole digger you plan on buying against what you need. Some come with an extension pole to increase the maximum depth. Plus also check if your local planning department has any rules for the size holes you need to dig.

How much of a post hole driller can you handle?

Manual hole drillers are lightweight but you do need to power them yourself by turning the handle/pushing them down into the ground. Cordless diggers are a little heavier which makes them more difficult to direct but that’s all you have to do – they do all the digging for you. Petrol models are the heaviest and more powerful which makes them dig into tough soils easily. However, you may need two people to operate one of these.

Have you used petrol powered tools before?

petrol post hole digger makes light work of installing fence posts

Petrol powered tools come with their own set of pros and cons. They’re powerful and work quickly, making short work of hole drilling. They drill through tough soils and go a long way on a tank of fuel. On the other hand, they’re noisy, heavy and polluting, and need regular maintenance and care.

Electric or battery tools are cleaner and easier to use. They’re more lightweight and easier to handle. But the length of each drilling session depends on how long the battery lasts and you need to wait until it recharges to continue drilling (unless you have a spare battery to alternate with).


Final Conclusion

However large or involved your post hole digging project is, one of the garden drillers we review will be a good choice to do the job. From a basic manual model through to a powerful petrol earth auger, each of the tools here reduces the amount of work, effort and strain you need to put into this part of your building project.

Our Best Pick – Manual is the Faithfull FAIPHA6 Post Hole Auger. This basic manual auger is an inexpensive pick if you just want to make a few post holes in light soil.

Our Best Pick – Cordless is the SuperHandy Electric Auger Cordless. Still relatively lightweight, this 40V battery auger takes away most of the manual labour in post hole drilling.

Our Best Pick – Petrol is the T-Mech Petrol Earth Auger Drill. This powerful garden drill comes with three diameters of auger bits supported by a 52cc engine.

If you do decide that you really need a powerful post hole driller, check out our 6 Best Petrol Augers For Drilling Post Holes review.


Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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