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What is the easiest way to dig up dirt for a water garden?

I have been digging a hole in my yard for a water garden that I am going to construct, but the soil is rock hard and in-organic and because of the hole's location in between two huge trees there are thousands of roots from small grass roots to huge 6" thick or bigger roots from the trees. I've been using a hoe to loosen the dirt for shoveling and to cut the roots, but it's becoming an extreme physically enduring project. Are there any other low-budget methods to get a hole dug? Remember, I need to dig a hole to match my measurements and designs for a water garden, not just a big hole. Note: A water garden, in my case, is a small man-made pond with fish, aquatic plants, frogs, etc.


  1. In this case since your space is so restricted and you're looking for a low cost option, I would suggest renting a "Ditch Witch" from your local hardware store. It can dig a straight line trench to precise measurements and eliminate the need to get around and through the roots. The extraction is going to take elbow grease since the cheapest way to remove the loosened dirt is your own elbow grease and a shovel.
  2. A ditch witch is defiantly not what you want. Sorry to the other answerer. You could ask around and pay a back hoe about $150.00 an hour ,it should only take an hour. I think this is your best least expensive option. A ditch witch would be more expensive to rent and you would have to operate it. The Back Hoe would probably be cheeper than $150.00 an hour and it wouldnt take so long. I over shot it.
  3. Your idea sounds great, we did it a couple years back but have you thought out the location? Under two huge trees, ah, huge trees have huge amounts of leave and leaves come down in the fall. You are going to be constantly tring to get them fished out. We put ours on a lawn away from the trees and they still get blown in there. And what about the damage to the trees??? I would rethink location.
  4. There are some other things you need to consider. 1. The location is not the best under trees because the leaves and limbs could get your pool dirty. 2. Large roots from the trees could gouge your preformed pond and puncture a whole. Find a better location and soak the soil thourghly a couple of days and you can use a good sharp shovel.
  5. When I have to dig in dirt like that I leave the hose on and just soak it down till I can dig it out. The tree roots can be cut with a pair of pruners with long handles for leverage and an ax. Just keep thinking how beautiful it will be when you are finished and you can do it!
  6. Either rent , or have some one come in with a machine called a Bobcat .Its a very small bucket loader , that will do the job in minutes ..I use one all the time in my line of work ( landscape design ) Here's a link to view one ... http://www.bobcat.com/worksaver/99bc/ws_99bc_loaders_453_01.html