Using An Auger To Plant Trees

Auger Used For Planting Trees
Auger Used For Planting Trees

When using an auger to plant trees, you’ll have your holes dug in a fraction of time it would take to hand dig them.

I love planting trees! And I actually don't mind hand-digging holes. But it's easy to call an auger your new best friend on large planting projects, especially ones that require large holes.

It's incredible how quickly and easily you can dig a hole with an auger. A hole approximately 2' x 2' can easily be drilled between 15 and 60 seconds, depending on the type of soil you are dealing with. Sure, there are exceptions to this. Hand digging that same hole would likely take 30-60 minutes.

On a couple of recent projects where a 24" auger was used, I planted 12 three-foot Colorado Spruce trees in about 3 hours and sixteen 2.5" Caliper, 10' Redmond Lindens in about 4 hours. In both projects, that included digging the hole and all the other steps: fertilizing, backfilling, grading, and staking. Incredible.

Our video here shows an auger in action and a quick review of the two planting projects.

Now granted, I was using a machine and auger bit with a price tag of about $90,000. And you'll need a trailer and truck to haul the equipment. But there are always options to rent equipment or "Hey buddy, can I borrow your skid steer loader Saturday?"

It's easy to drill your hole too deep when using augers. This is okay if you know the pitfalls of planting trees too deep. Planting too deep can dramatically shorten the life of many trees. I like to dig a little deeper than needed (so I don't have to do any hand digging) and backfill and re-tamp the soil.

Another great benefit of using augers is that all the excavated soil is evenly placed around the hole, making backfilling a breeze. The soil is also slightly pulverized or "fluffed" from the bit action cutting through the soil.

Many different auger bit sizes are available depending on your project and the machine you use. For large machines like you see below, 8" -42" are the range of sizes available.

For handheld augers, 2" -8" will be the most common. I recommend checking out A.M. Leonard for smaller auger projects. A.M. Leonard is as an excellent source for handheld machines, auger bits, and for many other tools and supplies in the horticulture industry.

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