Different Tools To Dig a Hole

If you need to dig a hole to, say, plant a tree, there are a few different tools available to get the job done. Depending on the size and number of holes you need to make, here are some tools to consider.

SDS Plus Hammer

An SDS Plus rotary hammer uses an SDS Plus bit. It has 3 functions

  • drill
  • hammer drill
  • hammer

You can use the hammer function with an SDS spade bit to break up hard soil. I have the Bosch Bulldog xTreme which is a popular SDS Plus rotary hammer.

Max speed1300 rpm
Blow energy2 ft lb
Blows per minute5800 BPM
Chuck typeSDS Plus
Weight11 lbs

Some SDS Plus bits you can use are

Bosch Bulldog Xtreme 2-1/2 in. x 10 in. SDS-Plus Hammer Steel Self-Sharpening Wide Chisel – $26

3 in. x 6.5 in. SDS-Plus Scaling Chisel – $25

If you need to longer bit, you can buy an SDS Plus bit extension. But, be careful as I believe it’s designed more for drilling rather than hammering.

Milwaukee PLUSLOK 18 in. SDS-PLUS Carbide Bit Extension – $100

SDS Max Hammer

The next step up from an SDS Plus hammer is the SDS Max hammer. This one is from Harbor Freight. It also has 3 functions.

HERCULES 12 Amp 1-9/16 In. SDS Max-Type Variable Speed Rotary Hammer

Max speed515 rpm
Blow energy6 ft lb
Blows per minute2900 BPM
Chuck typeSDS Max
Weight15 lbs

This hammer is 4 lbs heavier than the previous one but has 3 times the blow power.

Some SDS Max bits you can use are

WARRIOR 4-1/2 In. SDS Max Type Clay Spade Bit – $43

This bit is 18 inches long.

1-1/8″ Hex Jackhammer

Next up would be a full on 1-1/8″ Hex Shank Jackhammer. This is normally used for breaking concrete. This is only a hammer. It cannot drill. For example

XtremepowerUS Heavy Duty Demolition Jack hammer – $180

Max speedN/A
Blow energy55 ft lb
Blows per minute1800 BPM
Chuck type1-1/8″ hex shank
Weight45 lbs

This hammer is MUCH heavier (by 30 lbs) than the previous one but has 9 times the blow power.

Some 1-1/8″ hex shank bits you can use are

Neiko 02627 Clay Spade Chisel Bit for Demolition Hammers, Alloy Steel | 1-1/8″ Hex Shank | 17.5-inch Length – $43

Gas-powered Auger

You can rent a gas-powered auger from the Home Depot for $78 per day or buy one from Harbor Freight.

PREDATOR Gas Powered Earth Auger – $230

It comes with a 6 in. diameter x 31 in. long auger bit and offers 45 ft. lbs. of torque and fast drilling speeds up to 320 RPM.

There are different bit sizes as well as an bit extension available.

If you use an auger, or any digging method for that matter, it’s important to soak the ground with water first. You can create a small hole first and then fill it with water so the water will seep down to soften the ground you want to remove.

When using an auger, drill to your desired depth and then leave the auger in the ground until you remove the dirt that it brings to the surface. If you remove the auger right away, the dirt will fall into the hole you just made.

Also, for large holes, you’ll need to make multiple small holes. In the photo below, I made 4 holes in each corner and after making one hole, I’ll cover the hole with wood to prevent dirt from falling into them while drilling a new hole.

Once you’ve drilled 4 holes, you can use the auger or a jack hammer to break the remaining dirt and scoop it out using a shovel.

You can also rent this towable auger for $118 per day but I found it very heavy and difficult to use.

You can also rent a mini skid steer with auger attachment. They cost $300 per day from the Home Depot.


You can also rent a mini excavator from the Home Depot for $300 per day.