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How to use a digging bar to dig a hole?

   How to dig a hole using a digging bar

Shop for Digging Bars

Which design is best?

Exclamation Mark

When choosing which digging bar is right for you, consider the following:

  • The size of the hole you need to dig
  • The conditions of the soil in the digging area, and
  • Whether you will have to lift or move any heavy objects to clear the digging area.

Measuring Tape on Grass


For a small or medium hole, a digging bar of medium size and weight should be sufficient Medium length and weight for a digging bar would be around 1.5 – 1.75m (4’11’ – 5’8”) and about 7kg (15lb).

The extended reach of a longer bar will make it easier to dig a larger or deeper hole – for very deep holes, a post-hole or telegraph digging bar will help.

Soil with Roots and Rubble

Soil type

If the soil you will be digging is particular hard, closely packed, or thick with root matter, you will need extra leverage, so choose a sturdy bar with a wide or bent chisel end.

The longer the bar, the better the leverage you will have, so choose a bar with a long handle to make the task easier on your arms and back!

PLACEHOLDER A heavier bar will make it easier to break through hard or close-packed earth, but you should consider whether you are strong enough to use it properly. The effectiveness of a heavy tool for breaking ground relies on your ability to raise and drop the digging point – if you can’t lift it high enough, it will be less helpful to you than a lighter tool.
Large Boulder

Do you need to lift or move any heavy objects?

As with hard or closely packed soil, moving heavy objects will require a bar which gives you lots of leverage. Again, DONKEE recommends a longer, sturdier bar for this task.

Tamper Head

Other features

Do you want to be able to tamp the ground at the base of the hole easily? If so, choose a bar with a tamper head. A post-hole digging bar should usually have one.

Non-slip finish A bar with a non-slip finish or handle is not a necessity for regular digging work, but if you find that your grip slips often when using tools, or you would like to be able to work more precisely, then this may be appropriate.
Be sure your bar is well-made – refer back to our section on What are bars made of? for more information.

What else will you need?

A Spade A spade
A Length of Rope A length of rope, plastic tape, or other marking aid
A Post-Hole Digger A post-hole digger (optional, but highly recommended)

Wonkee’s hoof-by-hoof guide: How to dig a hole

When you have purchased your digging bar, and are ready to use it, Wonkee recommends these few preliminary tasks – completing them first will make the job itself much easier.
Man Measuring Area for Digging with Plastic Tape

Step 1 – Measure digging area

Measure the area you will be digging.

Step 2 – Check area safety

Check for the location of any wires, cable lines and sewage or plumbing pipes .

Man cutting around the outline of the digging area with the chisel end of a digging bar

Step 3 – Select safe spot to dig

Make note of their location, and select a safe and appropriate spot to dig.

Step 4 – Outline hole shape

Using a marker such as a length of rope, outline the shape and area you want to dig.

Now comes the exciting part.

A Man Digs Around the Inside of his Marked Digging Area with the Chisel Edge of a Digging Bar

Step 5 – Dig outline

Using the chisel edge of your digging bar, dig around the inside of your marker.

Lifting Turf with a Spade

Step 6 – Remove turf

Remove the turf covering the digging area with your spade.

A Man Digging with a Bar

Step 7 – Dig to correct depth

When you have dug out the entire shape, concentrate on the depth of hole you want.

Man Digging with Bar, an Arrow Showing that the End of the Bar Should be Twisted

Step 8 – Find a digging technique

A useful technique for digging with a bar is to drive the chisel edge into the soil and twist – this loosens the earth and makes lifting it out of the hole easier. However, there is no set rule here – use the technique which you find works best for you.

Step 9 – Break roots

Use the chisel edge of your digging bar to break through any roots you find.

Man Shovelling Loose Dirt with a Spade

Step 10 – Remove debris

As you are digging your hole, shovel out loose dirt and other debris using your spade.

Man Shovelling Loose Dirt with a Spade

Step 11 – Remove debris

When your hole is deep enough, you may find that a spade is no longer efficient for removing loose dirt from the bottom. In this case, you can switch to a post-hole digger, which has jaws for collecting loose dirt at a depth.

Tamping Soil at Base of Hole

Step 12 – Tamp base of hole

When the bottom of your hole is clear of loose dirt, you may wish to tamp the earth down. In this case, you should have chosen a digging bar with a tamper or mushroom head. Turn your bar over and use the flat end to gently push the earth at the bottom of the hole level.

DONKEE Says: Psst! This step is especially important if your hole will be filled in with concrete or cement.
Completed Hole Congratulations! Your hole is now complete.

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