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How to Enlarge the Footer at the Bottom of a Post Hole

Angela Baird

When digging footings for structures by hand, be prepared for a strenuous workout. Building and construction companies typically dig footers -- also called footings -- mechanically, using augers.

A good pair of post hole diggers is essential for enlarging footers.

But if your plans require an enlarged footer, a bell-shaped flare at the bottom of the hole, this is often more easily accomplished with a good pair of post-hole diggers.

  1. Dig your post hole to the depth required by your building plans. Consult with the building inspector in your area to determine your local frost line, as this in turn determines the depth of your footing. The footing must be below the frost line to minimize heave damage.

  2. Begin to flare your post hole when you have reached about half of your over-all required depth. This is not an exact science, but a simple a guideline. Flare by digging around the sides of the hole at a slight angle.

  3. Flare your footing as much as the opening of the hole will allow, making a gradual slope from the beginning of flare to the base of the post hole, and remove any excess dirt with a shovel.

  4. Tip

    Have a disposal plan in place for excess dirt to keep from killing your grass.


    Tamp and firm the sides and bottoms of your post hole with your shovel to ensure that it is stable.