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Using a Posthole Digger in the Garden

by Marty Ross

Planting small shrubs is scarcely any work at all with a posthole digger.

Using a Post hole Digger in the Garden

Digging holes is fundamental to gardening, and there are lots of tools available to do the job. A sharp spade is the tool of choice for planting most trees and shrubs, but smaller shrubs are often easier to plant with an unexpected ally: a posthole digger.

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Shrubs in one-gallon pots are just about the perfect match for the hole made by a posthole digger.

You jab the posthole digger down into the ground a couple of times, pulling up just enough soil so the shrub fits snugly in the hole.

Push the extra soil firmly down around the edge of the hole.

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Posthole diggers are excellent tools for tight spots where you do not wish to disturb established plants. The posthole digger lets you get right to the point.

You could use a posthole digger to plant lots of daffodils in a perennial bed, for example, dropping two or three bulbs in each hole.

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Posthole diggers also make quick work of planting a line of a dozen or more shrubs. Paul Saunders, owner of Saunders Brothers nursery near Charlottesville, Virginia, suggests this technique for planting boxwoods — or any small shrub you're using to create a hedge.

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After you plant, make a watering ring with any dirt left over, about a foot from the central stem of the shrub, and water well. Then spread a light mulch around the shrub. Small shrubs will make a quick and easy transition from a nursery pot to the garden.

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Of course, posthole diggers are also the perfect tool for digging post holes, and a deep hole provides the best support. Builders suggest digging a hole one third to one half as deep as the post is tall. For a sturdy post standing up four feet, buy a six-foot post and dig a hole two feet deep. A posthole digger will dig a hole like that in no time.

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