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Power Digging Tools

Asba Lee

Digging with a shovel is a tiring and time consuming method of preparing the ground for foundations, septic tanks or drip irrigation systems. It is also a common cause of back pain due to incorrect posture or bad lifting technique. Instead of wearing yourself out or risking your health, use the appropriate power digging tool to get faster results without putting a strain on your back.

Miniature Tillers for Gardeners

Use power digging tools and save your back.

Electrically powered mini-tillers dig up the top layer of soil. These small machines, which are operated in the same manner as a standup power lawn mower, are inexpensive enough that most gardeners can afford them. Their multiple uses around the yard include tearing up crabgrass and weeds, as well as aerating topsoil to ready it for planting. Do-it-yourself types who need extra digging power may prefer a model with a four-stroke engine, rather than an older, two-stoke version. Newer machines, which can be purchased for about $300, run cleaner and meet emissions requirements. Electric and gas powered models are available. The advantages of gas models include cordless operation and greater power. Their disadvantages include high noise levels.

Excavators for Large Digging Projects

An excavator, also referred to as a backhoe, is a large digging machine that runs on caterpillar tracks or wheels. The operator sits in a shielded cab and directs the arm and bucket of the excavator via controls on the dashboard. The advantages of these heavy machines include their ability to dig and remove large amounts of earth, very quickly. Their disadvantages include their large size. For example, some models cannot fit through yard gates. If you are working in a location with little space, such as between houses, consider renting a mini-excavator from your local large machine rental depot, instead of a full-sized model.

Trenching Machines for Laying Pipes

Trenchers are large machines used to dig long, narrow holes (between 18 inches and 4 feet in depth) in the ground for large pipes, such as water and sewer lines. The operation of a small trencher is similar to that of a motorized lawn mower. The operator guides the wheeled machine along the ground as its blades cut a trench. More sophisticated models, like hydrostatic trenching units, work more like chain saws. Tool rental stores offer various sizes of trenchers for rent by the day.

Power Diggers for Fence Post Holes

Augers are medium-sized power tools that take two hands to operate. These tools, which are powered by gas or electricity, feature tough spiral drill bits that cut through rocks and soil and are controlled by levers on the handlebars. It is easy to make multiple holes with an auger, not only for fence posts, but also for planting large trees and for deck or barn supports. Choose between high-speed auger drill bits for digging in softer ground and higher torque bits for tough clay and rocky soils.