How do you dig a fence

The best hole spades: digging holes made easy

Plant holes or holes for fences and posts can often only be digged with difficulty using conventional tools. A hole spade (also called a digger) saves time and effort. For example, while an unnecessarily wide hole has to be shoveled with a standard spade to set fence posts and then later filled up again, hole spades dig narrow and deep holes precisely.

But there are big differences in price and quality. And also in the execution, because in addition to classic hole spades with two arms, a tubular shovel and a hand auger were tested in comparison, which performed well in terms of quality and performed a similar function to a hole spade.

Update from April 10th, 2021

Earth hole excavator size 1, with handle is currently not available and has been removed from the comparison.

Update from March 30th, 2020

Well-known brands such as Fiskars and Spear & Jackson dominate the top positions, but even lesser-known manufacturers do not spoil themselves and provide excellent hole spades for gardening. The top 5 contain the right product for every need and budget.

Hole spade test winner 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Properties: Hole spade with two shovel blades

Unfortunately not stable in the long term: The Hole digger with tubular steel handle & safety handles

In comparison, it is the only spade that has not only simple wooden handles, but two handles. These are height-adjustable and, although they make the work easier, they also limit how you can grip the hole spade for certain jobs. There were two points deduction in the rating for stability. Buyers report that shovel blades and metal connections can bend when working on hard ground. According to experience reports, paintwork and screw connections are also not very resistant.

  • valuable quality
  • long, height-adjustable handles with handle
  • Hole diameter adjustable with chain

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Properties: Auger with propeller-like blades

Very good quality auger: Although it is not a classic hole spade, the earth auger is also suitable for digging narrow and vertical holes. A comparison shows that the Fiskars hand auger

Due to its easy handling and good workmanship, it hits a lot of hole spades, so that it landed in second place. There are three sizes available for holes in the ground with a diameter of 10, 15 and 20 centimeters. The earth auger is ideal for narrow planting holes, for aerating or watering the ground and also for setting fence posts. There is nothing to complain about in terms of quality. The handle is made of glass fiber reinforced plastic. This is used to turn the handle and the drill head, both of which are made of high-quality steel, into the ground. The blades can be exchanged if you want to renew them or convert them to a different hole diameter.

  • Blades available for hole diameters of 10, 15 or 20 cm
  • Handle and drill head made of high quality steel
  • Handle made of glass fiber reinforced plastic
  • High quality and long shelf life

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Properties: Half-round, narrow shovel

Different system, just as good quality: The offers a compromise between the conventional spade and a perforated spade Spear & Jackson Shovels and Spades Tubular Drainage

. The semicircular shovel blade, 40.5 centimeters long and 10.5 centimeters wide, makes it easy to dig narrow, deep holes. Hardened steel (carbon-manganese) and a dirt-repellent coating ensure good quality and durability. Because the device is made entirely of metal, it is very stable. You have a good grip with the wooden handle. The shovel is also relatively heavy, which has a positive effect on the force with which you can cut holes, but also makes longer work strenuous.

  • Stable workmanship
  • High quality and long shelf life
  • Hardened carbon manganese steel

Buying a hole spade: you should pay attention to this

A hole spade is always helpful when deeper and narrow holes have to be dug. It is suitable for creating plant holes, but also for ventilation or drainage holes. However, the device is particularly useful when posts - for example for fences - are to be set up. With a conventional spade, a deep hole is funnel-shaped, so that a lot of soil has to be dug for free and then poured in again from the side after the fence posts have been inserted. It is different with a hole spade: Here holes can be dug vertically very deep.

When buying, however, you should also pay attention to a few important points so that you acquire the right and high-quality product.

Versions: hole spade, earth auger, tubular spade?

In addition to the classic, two-armed hole spade, other designs such as a tubular spade or an auger are also possible depending on the area of ​​application. When buying, you should therefore - in addition to price and quality - also pay attention to which design and construction are best. Since all three versions are used to drill narrow and vertical holes, you will find information here about which product is best suited for which special tasks. An earth auger and a tubular spade also landed in the top five for the products compared.

Classic hole spade (digger)

A classic hole spade has two narrow blades that are connected in the form of pliers. The spade is pierced into the earth, the two shovels hold the earth firmly in the middle and the spade can be pulled out vertically together with the excavated earth. This is possible with the sharp, narrow shovel blades and the leverage effect of the long handles even on heavy and loamy soils.

Earth auger

An auger consists of a handle with which you can screw drill blades attached below into the earth. Round, narrow and deep holes are created. However, you need some strength to lift the earth out, especially in stony soils. An auger is ideal for planting holes, planting flower bulbs or aerating and watering the soil. An auger with a suitable diameter is also a very good choice for fence posts.

Tubular spade

A narrow, long, semicircular curved blade, well sharpened at the lower edge, makes a tubular spade. In contrast to the hole spade, the tubular spade is less easy to pull out of the earth that has been cut out. Therefore, it is more suitable for holes that should not be extremely deep. However, it is ideal and more flexible than the hole spade when not a round hole, but rather narrow trenches, for example for drainage or pipes.

Properties of hole spade

Not every hole spade is constructed in exactly the same way. There are a few differences to consider when purchasing.

Which hole diameters are possible?

Depending on the version, the range of hole diameters that can be created with the device is very different. This depends on the design (see topic "Chain" below) and the width of the blades.


It should be noted that long-term work with a hole spade is of course more difficult if the device is heavy. On the other hand, the weight also supports the digging of holes, as it “works” when you drive the spade into the ground. Depending on your own body weight and stature, you should choose a device that is easy to use.

Hole spade with or without a chain?

Some hole spades have a fixed distance between the two blades. Others are variable and the width can be determined with a chain. Both principles have advantages and disadvantages: without a chain, the hole spades are often more stable, but less variable. The attachment of the chain was not optimal for some products, so that a hole spade without a chain ended up in first place in comparison.


The quality of the classic hole spades (also known as diggers), in which the earth is cut out with two narrow shovel blades and lifted out like a pair of pliers, varies greatly. The best hole spade in the test was the Neverbend PHD-WH from Spear & Jackson. It is characterized by stability, high-quality workmanship and durability. It is suitable for all work where you have to dig narrow holes, for example when setting fence posts.

However, there are other ways that you can dig narrow vertical holes. So that buyers can weigh up which device is best suited, an earth auger and a narrow, semicircular spade were also included in the comparison. Both performed better in terms of quality and stability than the rest of the hole spades in the test. With the QuikDrill auger from the Finnish manufacturer Fiskars, which is known for its axes, knives and scissors, you can turn it to dig a vertical hole in the ground. Spear & Jackson provides another system with which holes but also narrow trenches can be excavated better than with conventional spades: the tubular drainage shovel. Both auger and the semicircular drainage shovel are highly recommended in terms of quality. The decision for the construction method depends not only on the desired area of ​​application, but also on your own preferences.

Currently not available

No longer available since: 13.03.2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Properties: Hole spade with two shovel blades

Hole spade with variable hole diameter: In the case of the digger size 1, with handle

the hole diameter can be roughly adjusted with a chain. At the narrowest setting, it is around 20 centimeters. It becomes larger if you set a further distance between the two blades with the chain. Unfortunately, the attachment of the chain with a hook was not ideal. Buyers report that the hook slips out relatively easily while working and then has to be reattached. The handle is only inserted into the blades, but not fastened with screws. This can lead to a loosening in the long run, so that there was one point deducted overall for the stability that could be improved. Otherwise, the quality of the product is absolutely in order and, compared to the test winner, is particularly suitable if you want to cut out slightly larger holes or holes with different diameters.

  • Hole diameter adjustable with chain
  • Good workmanship of the shovel blades
  • Handle only attached, not secured with screws
  • Chain attachment could be improved

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Last updated on 02/03/2021 at 11:50 a.m. / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API