How to Dig Post Holes in Rocky Soil

Written by danny donahue
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How to Dig Post Holes in Rocky Soil
Post holes must be deep enough to provide support for the fence. (Fence and shadow of fence on snowy ground.. image by LiteWave from

Post holes are deep, narrow excavations that provide a place to install the posts for your fence. The holes must be deep enough to support the posts with enough room to add a packing material, such as gravel, sand or concrete, to hold the post firmly in place. Putting such narrow holes in rocky soil requires careful manoeuvring of the tool and some work with a digging bar. Installing post holes in a rocky area requires a bit more work but provides much more stability once the post and packing material are in place.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Digging bar
  • Post-hole digger
  • Leather work gloves
  • Safety glasses

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  1. 1

    Grasp your digging bar low on the shaft with both hands. Hold the bar with the thin blade facing down. Lift the bar into the air and swing it down sharply into the ground. Wiggle the top end of the bar from side to side to loosen the rocks and soil. Repeat until you have loosened an area 8 inches wide and 6 inches deep.

  2. 2

    Go through the loosened material and remove any large rocks with your gloved hands. Grasp the handles of your post hole diggers. Lift the tool into the air and drop it down hard to drive the blades into the loose soil in your hole. Spread the handles apart and lift the tool to remove loose soil from the hole. Place the soil into a separate pile from the rocks.

  3. 3

    Continue loosening the rocks and soil with your digging bar. Remove the rocks by hand and the soil with the post hole diggers. Dig 6 inches of material at a time until your post hole is 36 inches deep.

Tips and warnings

  • Contact your local utility service to completely mark the underground utilities on your property before beginning your project.
  • Wearing leather work gloves and safety glasses will help to protect you from injury when working with digging tools.

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