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How Long Does It Take To Dig A Post Hole Correctly?

Post holes are horrid for being the most treacherous part of building fences. Whether you are building a construction fence or want to get more privacy in your backyard.

How Long Does It Take To Dig A Post Hole?

Fence builders will tell you to prepare yourself for what is to come.

Below you will find the amount of time it takes to dig a post hole and our methods for the best way to do it.

From the tools you need to the steps you will take, we have it all. 

With post hole digging being such a time-consuming, back breaking job, many of us want to know just how long it takes to dig a post hole.

It can take 15-30 minutes to dig a post hole. The average Joe can expect to spend around 20 minutes on each hole while those with experience may only take 15 minutes.

Using the proper tools can make the job smoother and quicker

How Long Does It Take To Dig A Post Hole?

When digging post holes manually, it can take around 20 minutes on average to complete. This is when digging around 20 cubic feet per hour.

Although, in the event that you run into rocks or experience an injury this can take longer than 20 minutes per post hole. 

Professional fence builders will also use tools such as a tile spade and a narrow blade which will make the process much quicker.

It can even bring the time per post hole down to around 10-15 minutes. 

This is great if you have more than a few holes to dig in a day. And it won’t break your back as much as doing it manually. 

Best Way To Dig A Post Hole 

Digging post holes requires a lot of manual effort and strength to get through the dirt. They have to be rather deep and wide in order to accommodate the large posts they are about to house. 

Not using the right tools or following the proper steps can take your time to dig post holes from around 20 minutes to upwards of 30 minutes.

That’s why we have the best way to dig a post hole below! 

Tools Needed 

The post-hole digger, also known as a clamshell digger, is the most popular implement used by fence builders for digging post holes.

This is all you need if the earth is muddy and loose. It can quickly create a hole that is 4 feet deep and is the ideal measurement for a fence post in such soil.

However, if the soil is hard and rocky you are going to need two other tools:

  • Drain Spade
  • Digging Bar 

A wet/dry vacuum will speed up your digging job if the soil is especially sandy and loose. To trim any roots you come across, you’ll also need a saw.

A cordless reciprocating saw with a 12-inch all-purpose blade is the quickest and most practical option.

How Long Does It Take To Dig A Post Hole?

Steps To Dig A Post Hole 

Now that we have the proper tools, we can begin to follow the steps for digging a post hole: 

  1. String The Line: String a line to mark the outside edges of the posts. Untwist the thread, then drive a nail through the strands to mark the post’s center on the line. By simply moving the nail to the precise spot, you can adjust its position. Then drive stakes into the ground to mark the center of the posts.
  1. Dig A Soil Divot: Begin by digging a pilot hole first and then carve out around the stake to create an outline of the pothole. 
  1. Loosen The Dirt:  You’ll exert way too much effort digging with just a clamshell digger unless your earth is exceptionally soft. With the tile spade, loosen the dirt and chip away at the sides. Small roots will be readily cut through by it.
  1. Use The Clamshell Digger: Thrust the clamshell 

digger into the loosened soil with open blades and remove the loose soil. 

  1. Saw Through Roots: Chiseling through roots can take hours. Use a recipe saw to make the job easier and slice through the roots. 
  1. Remove Rocks: Using the digging bar, loosen any large rocks and remove them from the hole with the clamshell digger. 
  1. Tamp The Soil: Before setting posts or filling concrete, compact the dirt using the digging bar’s tamper end. Thus, there is no settlement.
  1. Mark The Locations: Measure the post diameter again and mark the string line.
  1. Set The Posts: Now you can begin to set the posts into their holes. Pack the soil back into the hole with the tamper or with your foot. 

Tips For Digging Post Holes 

Digging post holes is a hard job both mentally and physically. We have some tips to help make the process easier: 

Power Tools 

Unless you have training on how to use power tools properly, digging by hand is a much easier and less risky option. 

However, a power auger will speed up the digging process in rock and root free soil. They are completely useless when working with clay or rocky soil.

Meaning you may find it easier to dig by hand but if you need some extra muscle, they can be a great help. 

Bigger Is Not Always Better 

Unless you are the hulk, you probably don’t have the strength required to maneuver the weight of large digging tools.

Smaller shovels and diggers will work in your favor as you can use them properly and get full use of them. 

Go for smaller tools and watch as the post-hole digging process goes much much smoother. 

Final Thoughts 

Digging post holes is not something we are all born with the knowledge and skills to do.

Meaning if you are new to the process, it may take you some time to get your head around everything. 

For the majority of people, digging a post hole can take around 20-30 minutes.

While for those who dig post holes everyday, they may dig a post hole every 15 minutes. 

In order to get the job done properly, take as long as you need. Rushing will lead to mistakes, take your time and make sure to mark each hole as you go.

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