Handy tips for digging a hole fast

Digging holes for fence posts? Coates has a selection of post hole digging equipment for hire.

Digging holes for fence posts? Coates has a selection of post hole digging equipment for hire. Photo: Getty

Digging a hole might seem simple, but it’s a task that requires the right approach, especially when speed matters.

Whether it’s for planting trees, setting up a fence or laying foundations, efficient digging can save time, reduce labour and ensure the job is done right.

Coates, Australia’s leading equipment hire and solutions provider, has a selection of post hole digging equipment for hire designed to maximise speed and efficiency.

Stick to these expert tips from Coates, and you’ll be digging holes efficiently and finishing your job in no time.

Prioritise safety first

Completing a digging project is not just about getting the job done fast; it’s about doing it safely.

This is why you should always equip yourself with the necessary safety gear.

Depending on the equipment you hire, this could include safety gloves, safety glasses, ear protection and steel-capped boots, but check with your local Coates expert when hiring.

Assess your site

Before you start digging, take a moment to assess your site.

Look for obstacles like large rocks and lodge a free Before You Dig request to check for underground power, gas, sewer and telephone lines.

Knowing the layout of the land helps in choosing the right equipment and avoiding any potential hazards.

In addition, knowing the type of soil you’re dealing with is key to efficient digging.

Tough soils like hard, rocky or sandy ground can make digging more difficult and time-consuming. If you have the option, look for a softer area that will be easier to work with.

Select the right equipment

Choosing the right equipment is crucial for fast and efficient digging.

Things to consider when hiring a post hole digger include:

  • The size of your project
  • Whether it’s a one or two-person job
  • How many holes you need to dig
  • The hole diameter and depth you want to achieve.

Coates has plenty of equipment options, so talk to their experts for tips and advice.

If you want to avoid backbreaking manual digging, hire a petrol-powered post hole digger.

Single-operator petrol post hole diggers or double-operator petrol post hole diggers provide the strength and durability needed for tasks like digging holes for footings or foundations.

These diggers are excellent for various soil types, even those that are compacted or high in clay.

One person petrol post hole digger

One-person petrol post hole digger. Photo: Courtesy of Stihl

A one-person petrol post hole digger is simple to use, easy to manoeuvre and can dig holes up to 200mm diameter.

If you need to dig larger holes, opt for a two-person petrol post hole digger that can dig holes up to 350mm diameter.

For extensive projects, such as large-scale landscaping or construction work, hiring a mini-loader or mini excavator with an auger drive or post hole digger attachment can significantly cut down your digging time.

They dig holes up to 600mm diameter and can handle a wide range of tasks, from digging holes to moving large amounts of earth.

Two-person petrol post hole digger

Two-person petrol post hole digger. Photo: Courtesy of Stihl

How to use a petrol post hole digger

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using a one-person machine:

  • Begin by marking where each hole should go for even spacing
  • Hand dig a shallow starter hole in each marked spot
  • Start up the machine and hold it vertically with both hands
  • Slowly lower the machine into your first starter hole
  • Squeeze the trigger to get the auger spinning and begin boring into the soil
  • Work slowly using a moderate downward force, letting the machine do the work
  • Remove soil regularly by partially releasing the trigger and pulling the machine free of the hole
  • Repeat these steps until you reach the desired depth. Check the depth periodically to stay consistent
  • After reaching the desired depth, clear any loose soil from the bottom of the hole for a clean, even base.

Don’t forget to backfill

After you’ve finished digging your holes, it’s important to properly backfill and compact the soil, especially if you’re setting posts or structures.

This ensures that what you’ve placed in the hole stays stable and secure over time.

Speed up your digging projects with Coates

Whether it’s for a small backyard project or a large construction site, Coates has the equipment to make your post hole digging job not just easier but also faster and more efficient.

Check out Coates’ range of petrol post hole diggers, mini-loaders and mini excavators, as well as other construction and DIY equipment for hire, at

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