What is a Posthole?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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A post hole is a hole dug for the purposes of installing a vertical post or similar structure into the ground. A worker uses a posthole digger or posthole auger to create a post hole. Post hole diggers can be manual or powered tools.

A post hole digger is a tool with variable designs and capabilities. More sophisticated variants were engineered based on the simpler designs of past models. A powered post hole digger can be a large machine, where a manual post hole digger is often a portable tool.

Two fundamentally different types of post hole diggers include a serrated edge post hole digger, and an auger tool. The post hole auger is often powered. It has a drill type end that rotates through the earth to displace it and create a post hole. The serrated edge post hole digger is generally a manual tool with two wooden handles.

The user carries it to the point of the intended post hole, and pushes the bottom serrated edges into the ground. The serrated edge post hole digger is made with a “clamshell” design, and the user works the two handles, and a claw shaped tool picks up the earth in small loads. When the earth is relatively soft, home and garden workers can often get good results with these kinds of simple tools.


Manual and powered post hole diggers have their own pros and cons. One of the biggest factors, besides the hardness of the earth, is how many postholes need to be dug. For a small number of garden post holes, a manual digger may be fine. For dozens of postholes, even if the earth is soft, a project manager may want to elect to use a powered post hole digger to avoid intensive labor and to save time.

The larger powered post hole digger machines used on more extensive jobs vary quite a bit. Some have a complex hydraulic apparatus. Others have simple gas or electric motors. Rental stores can explain more about a particular posthole digger model for those who need this kind of machine to complete home and garden tasks. Along with the above issues for posthole digging, project managers can decide whether to rent or buy a posthole digger, whether to outsource a posthole digging project, or whether to enlist a large number of in-house staff in using manual posthole digger tools to facilitate the installation of nearly any kind of fence, or other post-based installation such as a mailbox.


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