How Do You Dig For Landscaping? (Explained)

When planting a garden, you’ll often have to dig holes for new plants. Although there are many ways to do this, it’s important to know how and where not to dig. 

In this article, we explore some of the best practices for digging in your yard or garden so that you can get the job done quickly and safely without hurting yourself or damaging your property.

Start out no dig – one method with cardboard and compost

Sure, here’s the Takeaway table without dash at the beginning:

Key Takeaways
Landscaping requires proper planning, skills, and creativity to transform an outdoor space into something functional and appealing.
Knowing how to build landscapes and install borders are key components of landscaping.
Finding the right suppliers for necessary materials such as sand is essential to the success of a landscaping project.
No-dig gardening techniques are growing in popularity as an eco-friendly and low-maintenance approach to cultivating a garden.
Building a supportive community after experiencing grief and loss can help individuals find strength and comfort during difficult times.

Choose Tools Appropriate For The Job

You need to choose the right tool for the job. If you’re digging holes, don’t use a shovel. It won’t work well and it’ll be a waste of time and energy.

Also, if you’re digging trenches or removing tree roots or rocks from your yard, keep in mind that even though a shovel is good for some digging tasks (like digging holes), it’s not going to be ideal for other tasks (like trenching and removing tree roots).

Planning your home renovation project can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance and tips, it can turn out to be a rewarding experience that yields a wonderful outcome.

Know The Differences Between Types Of Soil

You need to be aware of what kind of soil you’re working with. There are four types of soil: sandy clay, loamy clay, heavy clay and sandy loam. Sandy clays are sandy soils with high amounts of organic matter (such as moss and other decaying plant matter). 

Loamy clays have higher levels of clay than sand in the soil content. Heavy clays contain much more organic material than sand or silt; they’re typically found near rivers or lakes where water runs through them regularly. 

Sandy loams are made up mostly of sand but contain some clay as well; they may also include some organic material from decomposed plants or animals that decayed there previously. Heavy sands tend not to have any organic material at all—they’re just pure sand particles!

Different Types of Soil

Type of SoilDescription
Sand SoilA type of soil that allows for easy drainage and is ideal for plants that prefer a drier environment.
Clay SoilA heavy soil that retains water for long periods and is ideal for plants that thrive in wet soil.
Silt SoilA soil type that has excellent moisture retention and is ideal for gardens that require a balance of moisture and drying periods.
Peat SoilA type of soil that is made up of partially decomposed organic matter, which makes it perfect for acid-loving plants.
Loam SoilConsidered the perfect soil type, loam contains a balance of clay, silt, and sand, which is great for the majority of plants.

This table provides a quick reference guide to different types of soil, their description, and the best use case for each type.

Pick the Best Time to Dig

  • Don’t dig when it is wet.
  • Don’t dig when it is too hot or too cold.
  • Don’t dig when it is windy, as this can cause soil erosion and damage to your plants and trees.
  • Don’t dig when it’s raining or snowing, because you won’t be able to see where you’re digging and could accidentally damage the roots of nearby plants or trees in your yard.

Sand is an essential component in landscaping and picking the right supplier can make all the difference when it comes to cost, quantity, and quality.

Use Your Knees Rather Than Your Back

When you’re digging, you should use your knees and not your back. If you’re digging with a shovel or spade, keep the blade of the tool straight up and down at all times. If it’s curved in any direction, that means that weight is being put on one side of your body.

A mattock is like a pickaxe but has two handles instead of one. The advantage to this tool is that it allows for more leverage when loosening dirt within tight spaces such as between rocks or tree roots and since it doesn’t require much effort to swing around, it won’t wear out your arms quite as quickly!

The hoe was once used for many different purposes (weeding crops and excavating soil), but nowadays its use has been limited primarily to gardening chores like weeding flower beds or chopping down grasses before planting seeds in them; however there are still some instances where these tools will prove useful when landscaping your yard too! 

For example: if you have an area where there are weeds growing out from underneath some loose stones then using either one could help loosen up some dirt without damaging anything else nearby–but only if done properly!

Don’t Remove All The Soil Around A Tree

When digging around trees, don’t remove all the soil from around the tree.

This may seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to remember. When you’re trying to figure out how deep and wide you need to dig around your tree, keep in mind that removing all of the existing soil around a tree will harm its roots and/or can lead to root rot.

Don’t cut into the trunk of a tree or remove any more than about an inch or two under its canopy (the area where leaves meet branches). 

If you do, it will weaken and stress your plant by depriving it of nutrients; this could kill off portions of your landscape even if they appear healthy on the surface. 

Also keep in mind that when planting anything near your home including landscaping plants you should leave at least ten feet between them and any utility lines so they won’t interfere with their function later down the road (like causing power outages).

Whether you’re a seasoned landscaper or a beginner, knowing how to build a landscape is key to creating spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly functional.

Digging and Planting in Sandy Clay

A digging fork is a pitchfork with the prongs removed and replaced with sharp tines. It’s used for digging in soil that holds together well, like sand or clay.

A digging bar is an ax-like tool with a flat blade on one end and a pointed tip on the other. It’s used for loosening hard soil, as well as breaking up rocks and paving slabs so they can be moved easily.

A digging stick may seem like it wouldn’t work very well for digging in soil, but it actually does quite well! The reason why: you’re using your weight to push down on this handy little tool that has a sharp point at its end (which means you won’t have to worry about stabbing yourself). 

When taking care of your garden project, this method will save time by allowing you to move through tough material quickly and not having to stop every few minutes because something got stuck underneath where there shouldn’t be anything allowed!

Digging and Planting in Sandy Clay

Here is a table that provides some tips on how to approach digging and planting in sandy clay soil:

Tips for Digging and Planting
Add organic matter to the soil to improve its texture. Compost, manure, and leaf litter can be tilled into the soil to enrich it.
Dig only when the soil is dry. Wet soil compacts easily, making it challenging to plant and encouraging hard clods to form.
Create raised beds or mounds if your soil is sandy clay to improve drainage. This is especially important if you live in an area with lots of rainfall.
When planting trees or shrubs, make the planting hole twice as wide as the root ball but no deeper. Avoid planting too deep, which can cause root rot.
Water plants deeply and less often to encourage deep root growth and prevent the soil from becoming too waterlogged.

By following these tips, you can improve the soil quality and create an environment that’s healthful for your plants, even in sandy clay soil.

Digging and Planting in Heavy Clay Soil

Now that you’ve found a spot to dig, it’s time to get down to business.

When we think of digging, we tend to think of using a spade or shovel. But when you’re working with heavy clay soil, these tools can do more damage than good. 

Instead, use a digging bar or spading fork a tool with multiple tines that break up the hard soil without damaging it. 

After breaking up the ground using your digging bar/spade/fork combo tool thingy (or whatever), use a trowel to replace the loose dirt back into your hole along with some compost and mix them together thoroughly so there are no clumps left behind by any means necessary even if this means getting dirty!

Installing borders is an integral part of a landscaping project that can elevate the look and feel of your yard. Check out our guide on how to install landscaping borders to learn more.

Digging and Planting in Loamy Soil

Loamy soil is a mixture of sand, silt and clay. It’s great for gardening because it’s not too wet or too dry, making it easy to dig and plant. 

Loam has good drainage so if you accidentally leave a hole in your yard that fills with water during heavy rains, loam won’t become an hourglass-shaped puddle under your feet when you step on it!

Never Leave Holes Open Overnight

When it comes to covering holes, there are a few options:

  • Plywood
  • Tarp
  • Plastic sheeting (like the kind you buy in big rolls)
  • Wood (usually in sheets or planks)
  • Cardboard boxes

Landscaping is more than just digging and planting; it requires skills, creativity, and hard work to transform an ordinary outdoor space into something extraordinary. Learn how to find good landscaping employees and build a dream team for your next project.

Never Leave Holes Unused

  • Leave holes open for water to drain. If the ground is saturated, you can’t get good drainage if there’s no space for it to go.
  • Leave holes open for air to circulate. The more air movement, the better your plants will grow and thrive.
  • Leave holes open for roots to grow into. Roots need soil in order to flourish, so don’t fill up your holes with dirt until they’re ready!

Leave holes open for soil to settle and settle down (if you know what I mean). When freshly dug out, loose clay soil tends to be heavy and sticky, not ideal conditions for growing anything! 

Letting time take its course will help improve this natural state of affairs by allowing the soil around each hole to shift slightly over time as new layers are added or removed from each side of its circumference (or whatever fancy word people use today). 

This should happen naturally as long as there aren’t any strong winds blowing through since that would cause disruption too quickly; just make sure not too much rain falls during this period either because then there won’t be enough oxygen left inside these little pockets where all kinds of things might start growing later on when everything’s ready again (you never know!).

Always Fill In Any Holes That You Make

  • Fill any holes that you make with the native soil.
  • Use a tamping tool to compact the soil.
  • Make sure that the edges of your holes are level, and then compact them again with your tamping tool for good measure.
  • Water this area well to help settle it in properly.

Don’t Use Garden Chemicals On Or Near Open Holes

  • Don’t use garden chemicals on or near open holes.
  • Why? Because the soil is likely to be loose and unstable, exposing yourself to the potential for serious injury. The last thing you want is a broken leg or arm while trying to dig up your lawn!
  • How do you do it safely? You can create a barrier with plastic sheeting around the hole, but make sure it’s not too small so that animals won’t be able to slip underneath it.


As you’ve seen from this article, there are some key things to keep in mind when digging for landscaping. For example, it’s important to always use your knees when digging and not your back. 

You also need to be aware of the type of soil that you have before you begin any digging at all! We hope this article has helped answer some questions about what kinds of tools should be used when digging up dirt around your house or yard.

Further Reading

If you want to learn more about landscaping, gardening, and related topics, here are some useful resources to check out:

Country Living has an article on no-dig gardening methods that can help you create thriving gardens without resorting to tilling or digging.

Bob Vila offers insights on no-dig gardening techniques that can be adopted by beginners in gardening.

Gardeners World shows how to follow an environmentally friendly and productive gardening which is no-dig gardening in a simple and clear guide.


What is no-dig gardening?

No-dig gardening is a technique where you don’t disturb the soil with tools like tilling or digging. Instead, you use a method where layers of different organic matter are added to create a healthy area for plants to grow.

What are the benefits of no-dig gardening?

Some benefits of no-dig gardening include better soil structure, less compaction, improved drainage, and increased soil fertility. It also reduces weed growth, saves time and energy.

How do you start no-dig gardening?

To start no-dig gardening, you need to lay down several layers of organic matter such as compost, cardboard, and straw over an area of your garden. You can then plant directly into the organic material.

What kind of organic matter is best for no-dig gardening?

Organic matter such as compost, straw, and manure is ideal for no-dig gardening. These materials provide nutrients to the soil while also protecting it from erosion.

Can anyone do no-dig gardening?

Yes, anyone can do no-dig gardening as it’s a simple, low-maintenance technique. It’s perfect for beginners, elderly gardeners, or anyone who wants an easier way to cultivate their garden.