Using a Posthole Digger in the Garden

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Using a Post hole Digger in the Garden

Planting small shrubs is scarcely any work at all with a posthole digger.

Digging holes is fundamental to gardening, and there are lots of tools available to do the job. A sharp spade is the tool of choice for planting most trees and shrubs, but smaller shrubs are often easier to plant with an unexpected ally: a posthole digger.

Post-hole digger and small shrub in pot

Shrubs in one-gallon pots are just about the perfect match for the hole made by a posthole digger.

You jab the posthole digger down into the ground a couple of times, pulling up just enough soil so the shrub fits snugly in the hole.

Push the extra soil firmly down around the edge of the hole.

Posthole digger digging hole)

Posthole diggers are excellent tools for tight spots where you do not wish to disturb established plants. The posthole digger lets you get right to the point.

You could use a posthole digger to plant lots of daffodils in a perennial bed, for example, dropping two or three bulbs in each hole.

Small shrub fits right in the hole

Posthole diggers also make quick work of planting a line of a dozen or more shrubs. Paul Saunders, owner of Saunders Brothers nursery near Charlottesville, Virginia, suggests this technique for planting boxwoods — or any small shrub you’re using to create a hedge.

Compost mulch in a garden trug, Fiskars garden fork

After you plant, make a watering ring with any dirt left over, about a foot from the central stem of the shrub, and water well. Then spread a light mulch around the shrub. Small shrubs will make a quick and easy transition from a nursery pot to the garden.

Mulched shrub with label; post-hole digger in the background

Of course, posthole diggers are also the perfect tool for digging post holes, and a deep hole provides the best support. Builders suggest digging a hole one third to one half as deep as the post is tall. For a sturdy post standing up four feet, buy a six-foot post and dig a hole two feet deep. A posthole digger will dig a hole like that in no time.

Posthole digger and deep hole