How To Use an Auger to Dig a Hole

How to use an auger to dig a hole isn’t complicated.   

If you have a bunch of holes to dig, digging them by hand takes too much time and energy.  Instead of taking months to get those holes dug, a powered post hole digger will get it done in a few days. 

So, how does a post hole auger work and how do you use one to dig a hole? 

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How Does a Post Hole Auger Work? 

post hole auger works by using sharp metal blades on a large drill bit to drill into the dirt.  These blades are powered by either a gas, propane or an electric motor that supplies torque to the drill bit and blades.  You apply pressure to the trigger and the blades and bit will bore into the ground, creating a nice evenly shaped hole for you.

How to use an Auger to Dig A Hole: Using an Earth Auger 

How to use an earth auger or post hole digger is easier than you think.  It isn’t hard to use a post hole digger if you follow along with our steps below to get your holes drilled fast and easy. 

  1. Make sure your auger blades are sharp and you’ve filled your auger with the right fuel ratio (if using gas)
  2. Primer your engine a few times
  3. Pull the cord fast to get it started (you might have to do this a few times)
  4. Place your auger bit right in the center of the hole you want to dig
  5. Start applying pressure on the trigger to spin your auger bit
  6. Hold on tight to the handlebars as your auger gets grip on the dirt
  7. Enjoy as you auger rips into the dirt digging your hole for you

Do I Need a Post Hole Digger? 

Using a post hole digger for some of your projects would speed it up and require less physical effort.  Fence posts and drilling holes in the ground for posts are the main use of post hole diggers.  

Dirt augers are versatile tools and uses for a post hole digger include landscaping, planting trees, building structures, laying down foundations for decks, and planting bulbs (the mini versions). 

How do You Start a Post Hole Borer? 

Gas and propane powered post diggers have pull starts.  You would prime the engine first and then pull the rip cord, just like on a lawn mower or small outboard motor. 

Electric diggers are more rare.  They are started with the push of a button. 

​Will a Post Hole Auger Cut Through Roots? 

Yes and No.  It depends on 2 things: the torque of your digger and the size of the roots.  Some augers are built to have more torque and need to be handled by two people when drilling.   

Those types of augers are ready to chew through most roots.  But, be careful of the kickback from the auger when you hit and are chewing through those roots and keep a tight grip on your handlebars. 

The size of the roots is sometimes too big for an auger to get through.  Roots can be tough.  If you are stuck because your soil is full of roots, grab a digging bar and break through and remover roots when you hit them.  You could also use a Root Slayer Shovel, which is a shovel that’s modified with a pointy blade and sharp edges.  It’s made just for this purpose.  

Remove the chopped up roots from your hole and continue using your auger. 

Tips for Using a Post Hole Digger 

Our auger tips for using a post hole digger should help you along to become more of an expert at drilling post holes. 

  1. Always mark the center of the hole where you want to drill 
  2. Make sure your safety is always on if you’re not drilling 
  3. Start the auger and keep it at 90 degrees at all times so you get a straight hole 
  4. Try not to lean your body on your auger, this way if you hit roots/rocks the kickback from the auger won’t hurt you or throw you to the ground​
  5. Keep your auger blades sharp so that when you drill, the job gets done fast and you don’t burn out the motor 
  6. Make sure to use your blade guard and keep the blades clean when not in use 
  7. Always store your auger at 90 degrees, and don’t let the blades rest on the floor


How to use an auger to dig a hole can be done in no time flat as long as you follow along with our step by step instructions to get those holes dug deep.