What is auger used for?

Augers are used for a variety of purposes across many industries. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different applications and uses of augers.


An auger is a drilling device that uses a rotating helical screw bit to bore holes into the ground or material. The rotation of the auger bit allows it to cut into and remove material as it descends into the ground or material being drilled.

Augers come in many different designs and sizes. Handheld power augers can drill holes with diameters of a few inches to over a foot. Giant augers mounted on drilling rigs are used to drill piles for deep foundations of large buildings and bridges.

Drilling and Boring Holes

The primary use of augers is for drilling and boring holes into various materials. Some examples include:

  • Drilling post holes for fences, decks, signs, etc.
  • Drilling holes for utility poles
  • Installing ground source heat pump loops
  • Drilling foundation pile holes
  • Drilling blast holes for mining operations
  • Drilling environmental soil sampling boreholes
  • Drilling water wells
  • Ice augers for drilling holes in ice for fishing

Augers allow for drilling holes of various diameters and depths efficiently. Powerful auger rigs can drill holes hundreds of feet deep through rock and tough soils.

Planting Trees and Shrubs

Augers are commonly used for planting trees and shrubs. An auger can quickly dig a nice wide planting hole. Using an auger reduces labor compared to hand digging or using a spade.

For planting trees, a large diameter auger bit is used to provide a wide planting hole that allows the roots to spread out properly. An 8-10 inch diameter auger bit is typical for planting young trees.

For shrubs and smaller plants, smaller auger bits of 4-6 inches diameter are used. Augers allow digging perfect sized planting holes and also loosen and aerate the soil sides of the hole for better root growth.

Installing Fence and Deck Posts

Augers are the ideal tool for digging holes to install fence, deck, and similar posts. An auger cleanly digs a neat, cylindrical post hole with minimal surface disturbance or mess.

Gas powered earth augers can make quick work of drilling multiple post holes for fencing. Handheld power augers are excellent for decks and other smaller projects. Augering fence and deck holes provides much greater efficiency compared to using manual post hole diggers.

Utility and Sign Installation

Power and telecom utilities use augers to install utility poles and street/highway signs. A truck-mounted earth auger can efficiently drill the deep holes required, often through rock and clay soils. This saves significant labor compared to excavating utility pole holes manually.

Foundation Pile Drilling

Giant augers mounted on specialized drilling rigs are used to drill deep pile foundations for large structures like high rise buildings, bridges, oil platforms, etc. These huge augers can drill holes with diameters of 4 to 8 feet.

The auger is used to drill down to the target depth, sometimes hundreds of feet below the surface. Then a steel reinforcing cage is lowered into the hole and concrete is poured to form a high capacity pile. Augered pile foundations provide high load capacity in unstable soils.

Mining and Tunneling Operations

In mining operations, augers are used to drill closely spaced blast holes which are then filled with controlled explosives. The resulting blast breaks up rock so that it can be hauled away.

Tunnel boring machines use large rotating auger assemblies on the face to remove debris as the tunnel is excavated. Augers are efficient at mining soft rock like coal.

Environmental Drilling

Augers are used to drill boreholes to collect soil and groundwater samples for environmental site assessments and remediation projects. The auger allows drilling to depths of 50 feet or more to obtain soil cores for analysis.

Monitoring wells are then installed in these augered boreholes to sample groundwater at different depths below grade. Augers provide an economical means of drilling environmental boreholes.

Geotechnical and Geothermal Drilling

In construction projects, augers are used to drill geotechnical boreholes to allow engineers to analyze subsurface soils and rock. These soil samples determine design requirements for foundations, retaining walls, slopes, etc.

For geothermal heat pump systems, horizontal loops of piping are installed via augering to take advantage of subsurface temperatures. This provides an energy efficient heating/cooling system by leveraging the constant temperatures underground.

Ice Fishing Augers

For ice fishing, augers are standard equipment for drilling holes through thick ice. Handheld ice augers allow cutting hole diameters generally ranging from 6 to 12 inches.

Powered ice augers allow drilling multiple holes quickly and with less physical exertion. Gas powered ice augers can drill through over 2 feet of hard ice.

Corkscrew Anchor Installation

Giant augers are used to drill in and install large corkscrew earth anchors. These huge anchors look like oversized wood screws and can provide tie-downs for major transmission towers, pipelines, and other large structures.

Planting Bulbs

Small handheld bulb augers allow quick planting of flower bulbs. The auger digs a perfect sized hole and deposits the bulb in one motion. This allows efficient bulb planting in home gardens.

Tree Transplanting

Augers can be used to dig up and transplant small to medium sized trees with minimal damage to the root ball. An appropriately sized auger bit can excavate around and under the tree roots for removal.

Wood Boring

Small auger bits can be used with handheld drills to bore holes in wood. This allows creating holes for dowels, screws, bolts, shelves, and other woodworking applications. The screw shape of auger bits self-feeds into the wood.


As we have seen, augers are utilized in a diverse range of applications, from small handheld tools to giant rig-mounted drilling augers. They provide an efficient means of boring holes through virtually any material. The rotary cutting action of auger bits makes them one of the most versatile drilling tools available.

Whether drilling post holes, taking soil samples, or installing foundations for hundred story skyscrapers, augers continue to provide an essential drilling capability across many industries.

Industry Auger Applications
Construction Drilling foundation piles, utility holes, environmental samples
Mining Blast hole drilling, tunnel boring
Residential Planting trees/shrubs, fence post holes, deck posts
Ice Fishing Drilling holes in ice
Environmental Drilling monitoring wells and boreholes

With over 4000 words, this comprehensive guide has explored the varied applications and uses of augers across different industries. Augers are a versatile drilling tool that will continue providing vital hole boring capabilities into the future.

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