Tools for Digging Hard Ground

We outline the top tools for digging hard ground below.

In some parts of the country, you have to deal with hard soil, like clay.  You can work so hard and barely make a dent. 

Our advice will get you through your holes no problem.

Tools for digging hard ground
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Best Tools for Digging Hard Ground 

You might ask yourself: What is the best tool for digging hard ground?  Well, you can use 2 types of tools for digging hard ground: hand digging tools or power tools.  We talk about both types and the pros and cons of using them below. 

Tools for Digging Hard Ground Quick List 

The easiest way to dig hard ground is to be prepared with the right tools at your fingertips. Here is our quick list of the tools we use to dig hard ground.

Hand Digging Tools for Digging Hard Ground

Which Tools are used for digging hard ground? To help you out, below are some digging tools names with pictures so you can easily plan how you’re going to drill those holes for your next DIY project. You will need to use a combination of tools and techniques, such as loosening the soil with a pickaxe before digging with a shovel or post hole digger.

Digging Bar 


A digging bar is an essential tool here. You can use your digging bar to start holes for your auger, chisel through roots, and remove large and small rocks that might be in your way. 

It’s an all round excellent tool to have in your tool shed.

Hand Auger

Hand augers are the old school way to dig holes in the ground.

As you can see from the image here, they are fully manual powered. You will have to put in some hard work to even get a few inches down in hard soil.

If you are digging multiple holes in hard ground, I would pass by this and choose one of the powered options.


Shovel and/or Clam Digger

You can also use a plain old shovel or clamshell digger, to dig in hard soil.

It’s going to take you a long time to dig through hard soil by hand, but if you are determined, you can get it done.




Picks are manually operated and you can use elbow grease to dig in hard ground.

Digging in any sort of ground with a pick is going to be super hard work.

I would use one to start a hole, or maybe if the going gets really tough. But I have no plans to dig an entire hole with a pick.


Using a spade is almost like using a shovel, but its designed to slice through thick turf and soil for digging. It includes a lifetime warranty and is 46 inches long.


Trenching Spade

Using a trenching spade is different than a shovel or a regular spade. They are especially effective at digging post holes in rough soils due to the V angled head.


Power Tools for Digging Hard Ground

Gas Augers


Gas Augers are known for having the most power. They are the best tool for digging in rocky soil. You need a good amount of torque to power through hard ground gas augers provide plenty.

Some augers are built/geared to handle both ice and dirt; you just have to switch auger bits.

Get more bang for your buck with an auger head that can do both.

2 Man Auger

2 man augers are also packed with a ton of power to handle tough soil situations. The only con to this type of auger is you do need 2 people to operate it as they have a ton of torque.  


3 Point Post Auger


Another kind of auger to use is a 3 point post auger that you attach to a tractor or backhoe. Sometimes they are called tractor augers.

These are common in rural areas, or for jobs where you need to drill a ton of holes, or the soil is very tough to get through.


Using a jack hammer to break up hard ground can save wear and tear on your body and save a ton of time.


Power Tools for Digging Hard Soil Rental

You can rent many tools at your local hardware store. Check with them and see what they have in stock.

How Do You Dig up Hard Rocky Soil : Tools for Digging in Rocky Soil

You will have to have alot of patience. We recommend starting a pilot hole and seeing how rocky the soil actually is. This can determine if you should use an auger or not. If it’s quite rocky, you might have to use a shovel, digging bar, or even a jackhammer to get through it. This is where a clamshell digger comes in handy because you can work in smaller sections and lift dirt out of the hole as you go.

If you have a ton of holes to drill, look into a 2 man auger and even a tractor auger, that are built extra sturdy to get through tougher soil conditions.


Now that you know all of the tools for digging hard ground out there on the market, you can pick the perfect one for your next project.

What is the Best 2 man auger for digging hard ground?

Check out our post on the Best Two Man Augers available.

What’s the best tool for digging hard ground on a budget?

We suggest a digging bar paired with a shovel. You probably already have a shovel, and a digging bar is great for prying up rocks, breaking rocks loose from the soil, breaking up roots.