Electric Drill Earth Auger:

I have been substantially laid up with this back (slipped disc then back op. – basically since July dammit!). Slowly getting better I hope (?) Meanwhile however my daughter Merrin and I have planted about 300 trees mainly using this method which costs at most a couple of dollars ($A) and at least A$1 when you get to re-use the conduit a couple of years later when the tree has grown enough so that the sheep will  not bother it any more.

This evergreen alder has already grown a foot in the month since we planted it. In the background you can see the tree guards we used to use (last year’s planting) which cost over $20 each instead of $2.


Some of those we have put in we will be able to re-use the conduit next autumn! Willows, poplars and evergreen alders (for example) really get up. We have growth out the top of the plastic guards (5’ up!) already in less than a month! We expect similar results from some other trees eg prunus (esp suckers), elm suckers, pawlonia (suckers), ash…I will add to the list). Mostly we are using plant material we can get for free eg from roadsides and other bits of rough or wild, so the total cost of those planted trees is $A1 and our labour – and it is fun planting trees with your daughter – when she can get a break from her infant son.

Japanese Maple. It’s amazing how much growth you can slip the tube over when the branches are bare. Of course she may have planted this the other way, ie slipping the root ball through the tube. In either case, this is quite a tree given that it has only been in the ground a couple of weeks. (Aside: the thistles are out of control this year due to my not being able to spray them. We have a contractor coming next week – and hopefully a couple of inches of rain too!)


I bought a 2” x  9” (long) earth auger from these folk (because I wanted it in a hurry) which cost me around $A50 delivered. I believed it would have a standard hex head which I could attach to a drill extension, but it ended up being a much larger hex head which I could not buy an extension for (locally) so I cut off a length of a long M12 bolt and welded the two together to give me a drill around 18” long, which was about what we wanted for the hole. (PS: It would have cost me closer to A$200 for one that long!) If the soil is nice and moist at that depth it will give the cutting a good start and leave pretty close to the 5’ of conduit (and plastic tube) sticking out of the ground to protect the growing plant from maraudering sheep. We have been using an 18 volt  rechargeable Makita Drill Model DHP 481. It is very suitable for the purpose as it has a long handle which is great for resisting the turning force of the auger.

The Makita DHP 481, hole punch from Officeworks, roll of protective tubing and the poorly welded auger – which nonetheless works perfectly well!


We have pruned quite a variety of other (potted) trees (mainly tube stock and bare-rooted trees) to a single leader and planted them in the tubes too. Lots of them are doing well. The longest has been in the soil for less than a month. Others we planted just yesterday. They included English Oak, Holm Oak, Black Walnut, Chestnut, Red Oak, Pin Oak, Lilypilly, Magnolia, Maple…

The old blackwoods are near the end of their life. This one has fallen down. Winter wood for next year. When all those tree tubes have grown their trees Merrin will have quite a little forest there just above our bottom dam.


It is as simple as this: Drill the hole to 16-18”. Put the conduit in the hole. Give it a couple of taps with a mason’s hammer to secure it in the bottom. If planting a cutting place it in the hole next to it. If a potted tree dig a big enough hole right next to the conduit so you can fit the tree (pruned back to a single leader) inside the plastic tube, refill the hole making sure that there is loose moist dirt the full length of the hole. Slip the plastic sleeve over the tree and conduit (carefully so you don’t snap the tree). Pull the sleeve out in the middle (not the edge as the tree will get more air this way) and make three double rows of holes with the hole punch. Secure the plastic sleeve to the conduit with three cable ties. (Water in if necessary when you finish). Move on to the next tree.



This Magnolia and Japanese Maple arte already above their protective tubes after less than a month. These trees will be over 10′ high (3 metres) by autumn. Instant forest. This planting will both beautify and stabilise this old slip above our top dam.


We are going to have some very nice walks right here on our home farm – and in the bush up the creek behind us where there is a waterfall, fern gullies, giant mountain ash forest, eagles’ nests and etc.

PS: These earth augers are brilliant for planting tube stock trees.

I have been looking up some other (cheaper) earth augers you might also use. A couple from the States which typically cost less than $US20 plus maybe $US10 (max) delivery to a US address. If you have to use Shipito to get it to Oz you are going to be set back another $10-20 – but you have a drill closer to 2’ long.

 Yard Butler 1 3/4″ Roto Digger: https://www.yardbutlerstore.com/product/roto-digger-garden-auger/  & Jisco 1/3/4″ x 2′ Earth Auger: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000LNTO8A/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

You may be better with these offerings from Aliexpress. This one for example is 43mm x 370 mm and costs US$20 inc shipping (This will be long enough if you give the conduit a couple of taps with the hammer): or you can buy 5 for US$90 – and sell four to your friends for $22.50ea and get yours for nothing!:

If you want a longer one (800 mm) you could buy this one US$36.67: Note that you will need the electric drill adapter for US$ 13.32 Also free shipping to Australia. You might want a longer hole (then backfill) to get the plant’s taproot down to where the groundwater is in a hurry or you might want to drill for water (adding a few extensions). It is an appealing idea drilling a water well with your electric drill! For some tips on drilling your own water well see my post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hand-drilling-water-wells/

Those links again:







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