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How to Pick the Right Commercial Earth Auger for Your Fencing Business 

Here’s a comprehensive guide to choosing an earth auger, including why this tool is vital for your business. Learn what to look for when shopping for earth augers. Get tips you can use today.

Melissa Kartiganer

Staff Contributor

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Commercial earth augers are a great solution for professionals who need to dig fence post holes. But how do you pick the right one? 

Here’s a comprehensive guide to choosing an earth auger, including why this tool is vital for your business. Learn what to look for when shopping for earth augers. Get tips you can use today as you narrow down your selection. 

Understanding the Importance of a Commercial Earth Auger 

Do you own a fencing company? Or do you install fences as a landscaper or contractor? If so, having the right tools is essential for efficiency and top results. 

Fencing, in particular, demands specific tools during the installation process. Digging post holes requires either a fence post hole shovel or an earth auger to get started. 

You need a hole that’s cut like a tube in the ground. A post hole that’s too wide or not deep enough won’t let you anchor the fence properly. 

Without the proper foundation for your fence, it won’t be sturdy enough. It may also not look like what the homeowner wanted. Both of these issues have multiple negative consequences. 

When you need to work quickly—especially if you have a high volume of holes to dig—earth augers are the tool of choice for fencing specialists. Let’s look at why this is your best option and what can happen if you don’t have this piece of equipment handy. 

Problem #1: Working Too Slowly 

A post hole shovel is an easy solution if you only have a handful of holes to dig. And those holes have to be in the right kind of soil: not too heavy or rocky. 

If you have to dig a long row of fence post holes, manual work will usually wind up being too time-consuming. That creates a lot of downstream headaches. 

First, you may not get your job done according to the timetable you promised the client. Failure to finish on time can result in bad customer reviews and a lack of valuable word-of-mouth advertising. 

Consider these statistics about personal referrals

  • Twice as many sales come from word-of-mouth buzz as from traditional advertising. 
  • 70% of consumers trust other consumers’ opinions. 
  • More than 90% of buyers read reviews online first before making a decision. 

Running behind schedule can also anger other contractors who are counting on you to finish in order to get their work done too. For instance, say you’re the fencing professional, and the landscapers are waiting for you to put up the fence to plant a row of shrubs. 

If you are slow finishing the fence, they’ll be late getting the shrubs in. Since other contractors are another source of word-of-mouth referrals, you don’t want them frustrated with your work. 

Even your own crew can get aggravated by tools that slow them down. At a time when contractors are challenged by hiring and retention, you want to keep workers happy. 

Problem #2: Unattractive Finished Product 

Another reason clients may leave bad reviews for your business is unsatisfactory results. Not having the right tools to put up a fence can make the finished product look sloppy and amateurish. 

If a property owner is spending thousands on their yard, they want their fence to look spectacular. And it will likely be seen by neighbors and real estate agents. Those are people you want to impress with your professionalism and brand perfection. 

Problem #3: Potential Liability Concerns 

The worst problem you may encounter with a fence that’s not anchored correctly is it’s risky. It could come down in a storm or fall on a person. 

That creates insurance and liability hazards for you and your business. You could wind up with a court case or financial losses. And, of course, your company’s reputation could be jeopardized by work that’s a safety issue for the property owners. 

yellow auger in grass

The Solution: An Earth Auger 

Fortunately, using an earth auger will let you dig a fence post hole to the depth and diameter you need for fence stability. These power diggers use corkscrew-shaped blades to accomplish what a shovel can do in a fraction of the time. 

Believe it or not, this technology has actually been around for thousands of years. A variation of Archimedes’ screw was used to pump water for irrigation in ancient societies. 

Manual augers made of metal for other purposes have been around since the Middle Ages. The first power auger was built in Kansas in 1943. 

With a power earth auger, you’ll get the quality results you crave—quickly and efficiently. Plus, you will know the fences you install have the right foundation for safety and the owner’s desired aesthetics. 

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Commercial Earth Auger for Your Fencing Business 

So, you’ve decided an earth auger is the best tool for digging fence post holes. How do you choose one from the hundreds on the market? 

Here are some things to think about when making your selection: 

Budget 

Your business’s budget is your first consideration when choosing an earth auger. The reality is that you may like the most expensive model you find. But purchasing it may not be feasible—at least not right now. 

Some ways to make an auger more affordable include: 

  • Taking an extra job to cover the price 
  • Getting financing or a loan 
  • Buying in bulk to save on volume 
  • Purchasing an older model on sale 
  • Buying a used earth auger 

You need to crunch the numbers for your business to see what’s affordable. How many jobs do you have to do in order to cover the cost of an earth auger? What is your break-even point? 

Your return on investment (ROI) should make the purchase worthwhile. If you do a high volume of fencing projects, you’ll likely find the auger pays for itself pretty quickly. 

Also, think about whether you can use the auger for other projects, like planting as a landscaper. If you get double duty from the tool, it will earn its ROI faster. 

Scope of Your Work 

This relates to the budget discussion above. You need to be able to justify the purchase of an earth auger. 

Say you’re a contractor or a landscaper who only installs fences a couple of times a year. You may find it more cost-effective to rent an auger on an as-needed basis. 

But if you put in fences every week, having an earth auger is a no-brainer. This is especially true if you have a crew working on several jobs simultaneously. You might even need a few augers for improved efficiency. 

Power Source 

Earth augers are powered by one of four sources: 

  • Gas 
  • Electric 
  • Battery 
  • Hydraulic 

Think about which one is most practical for you. A gas auger can run for a long time, but you will have to refill it periodically. And that means having a gas can handy on your jobsite. 

With gas-powered augers, you will have to choose horsepower, usually between 2 and 5 horsepower. You’ll also have to decide whether you want a two- or a four-stroke engine. 

The former is noisier and requires more maintenance. The latter is quieter and easier to care for. But it will likely cost a little more. 

Electric augers need a power supply nearby. This isn’t always practical when you’re working on large jobs far from an outlet. Plus, they need a power cord, which is another hassle and a potential tripping hazard. 

Battery-powered earth augers have no cords to worry about. But batteries have limitations on time (usually an hour or two of steady use). You’ll have to recharge or keep a supply of charged batteries on hand. 

Some require dual batteries simultaneously. And you want to be certain the unit comes with batteries and a charger included, or the price will go up even more. 

Pro tip: if you buy a battery-powered auger, look for one with a battery that can supply other tools in a system. Some use batteries that work with drills, weed wackers, flashlights, etc. 

A hydraulic earth auger might need to be powered by an air compressor. If you don’t have a compressor for other tasks, this probably isn’t a cost-effective choice for you. 

The largest hydraulic earth augers are skid-loaded. They call on the skid steer’s drive unit for power. Therefore, the skid must have sufficient torque to handle the auger attachment. 

You may not have this equipment in your own garage. But renting a skid steer might be an option if you want to use the biggest power earth augers available today for certain jobs. 

black auger digging

Soil Conditions and Auger Strength 

All earth augers are not meant for the same jobs. Some do fine in light, loamy, or sandy soil. Others are designed to work in heavy clay soils, dry conditions, or hard-packed ground. 

You should think about the potential for rocks underground too. Stronger augers can handle small stones and rocks that are about the size of potatoes. Be sure to inquire about the digging conditions for any auger you’re considering. 

Digging Depth and Diameter 

Likewise, some earth augers are made for small jobs. In fact, they’re not really for fence post hole digging at all. Rather, they’re designed for bulb and flower planting. They’re often called power planters, and you can see they’re smaller than many other models. 

You need an auger that’s meant for jobs like digging fence post holes or deck footings. That means one that can reach the depth and give you the diameter you need. We go into more detail about that in the following section. 

Number of Operators 

The size and power of the auger also determine how many people it needs for operation. If you are a sole proprietor, you’ll need an earth auger that only requires one operator. 

However, some augers are designed for two people. They generate a considerable amount of vibration and torque. Use by one person would present a safety hazard. There’s more on this below too. 

Commercial Durability and Reliability 

Just like with other tools, there are brands known for their longevity and problem-free use. They tend to have good customer service and solid warranties. 

Be sure to read reviews for any augers you’re thinking about buying. See what your colleagues are saying and if their jobs are similar to the ones you perform. 

Remember, you want an earth auger that’s designed for commercial use. Augers used by weekend DIYers won’t typically get the job done. Or they will wear out under professional demands. 

Extra Features 

As you’ll read in the next segment, earth augers come with a variety of features that make them unique. Check out these extras to match them up with your requirements. 

Don’t pay for bells and whistles you don’t need. That’s just more you’ll have to maintain or potentially fix down the line. 

But if a feature makes your job easier, that improves productivity. That translates to higher revenue over time. More revenue equals greater profitability. 

Types of Commercial Augers Suitable for Fencing Businesses 

Above, we introduced different types of commercial earth augers. Let’s take a deeper dive into some of those options. 

Large Diameter Bits 

First, bit size and hole diameter are essential for fencing or landscaping businesses. While you can use smaller augers for planting bulbs and annuals, they won’t work for post holes. 

A 4- to 7-inch auger is about as small as you can use for fences. Even better, look for augers in the 8- to 9-inch category and above. Many fencing professionals favor 12-inch or 16-inch augers. A 12-inch minimum is suggested for 4×4 posts. 

Heavy-Duty Blades 

Standard steel blades will suffice for loamy soil. But what about hardpan or heavy clay? What if the deeper levels of the ground are still slightly frozen in early spring? 

For that, you will need heavy-duty augers. These use thicker steel and carbide blades with ultra-sharp edges. And, of course, you want a higher horsepower machine to add more digging power. 

Always make sure your earth auger can handle rocks, if that’s a concern for your jobsite. Heavy-duty augers have a longer-lasting tooth at the tip to assist the sharper side cutting blades. 

One-Person vs. Two-Person Augers 

The size and power of the auger, as well as the digging conditions, will usually determine how many operators are needed. Some augers are only to be used by two people for safety’s sake. 

Others have the option of one or two users by the powerhead (motor). 

One large, strong person may be able to use the earth auger on their own. But if the operators are smaller, they may require one on each handle. Typically, earth augers intended for commercial use demand two people stationed on the powerhead. 

As a rule, if the auger is above 30 or 35 pounds, you want two operators. That’s the weight of the auger alone. Don’t forget to add the bit, which could run 10-20 pounds on average. 

Extensions for Deeper Digging 

How deep do you need to dig for your jobs? Most commercial augers easily go to about 3 feet. However, augers intended for professional use often come with extension rods. These add another foot or two of depth, letting you get down to 4 or 5 feet below the surface. 

Skid Steer-Loaded Augers 

Finally, you have huge skid steer-loaded augers. These come in a range of extra-large sizes. They’re the solution you need when even large hand-held augers aren’t enough. 

As mentioned above, skid augers are hydraulically powered, unlike gas and battery options. You have to match the auger to the skid steer for the right hydraulic flow. Otherwise, the auger and/or drive unit could become damaged. 

Not enough power from the skid steer? The auger won’t be able to dig adequately for your project. 

Your best bet here is to talk to the manufacturer or renter of your skid steer for more information about compatible augers. And be sure to ask about the auger flight. This is the part of the auger that lifts dirt from the hole. When you’re digging that deep and wide, you need extra assistance emptying the hole. 

person holding earth auger

How to Choose the Right Features and Attachments for Your Commercial Earth Auger 

Most augers have a few different features that offer flexibility and convenience. Some also have safety additions that are worth studying. 

What features would give one earth auger an edge over another for you? Here are a few for your consideration: 

  • Variable speed options for different soil types 
  • Motor made by automotive manufacturer (e.g., Honda) 
  • Throttle and controls on handlebars 
  • Interchangeable bits for different diameters 
  • Extension bars for deeper digging 
  • Vibration-proof grips for comfort during use 
  • Shock fracture protection mechanisms 
  • Simple assembly without additional tools 
  • Option for battery or electric power supply 
  • Battery status indicator with LED display 
  • Reverse torque control for easy ejection 
  • Overload protection to prevent overheating 
  • High power without proportional weight increase 
  • Attachment for bubble level for even digging 
  • Extra sharp bits for tough soil and small roots 

Top Tips for Choosing the Right Commercial Earth Auger for Your Fencing Business

  • Not sure if you want to spend money on a larger, more expensive auger? See if you can rent it first to try it out. Be sure to have your crew test it and offer feedback, if relevant. 

  • Whether you’re testing a rental model or using your own, always know what’s under the ground where you’re digging. Call for utility lines. And be wary about landscaping cloth, tree roots, and similar obstacles. 

  • Consider buying a replacement blade to have on hand, just in case. That way, if your existing blade breaks or wears down, you won’t lose precious work time waiting for another one.

  • Some earth augers come with reversible blade options. These let you flip over the blades to get double the use out of one set of blades before they wear completely out. 

  • When investing in an earth auger, inquire about warranties and return policies. How easy will it be to get another if there’s a problem with your auger? You don’t want to miss work because of a malfunction.

  • Don’t forget to pick up safety equipment when you’re shopping. You or your staff will need goggles and ear protection when using an auger. Grab some boards too to cover empty holes to prevent accidents until you’re ready to install posts.

Melissa can masterfully bring to life any form of content, whether it’s a landing page or a guide to befriending gnomes. When she’s not crafting stories, she’s either crocheting, smothering her cats in unwelcome affection, or spending time with her husband.

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