Digging footings and piers is the first major phase of work when it comes to building your backyard deck.
And there is no easy way to get around this.
It's pure hard work, but its a lot easier and less messy if you have the right tools
What's Required For The Job
Here's what you should have before you get your feet and hands dirty:
Post hole digger (clamshell style is best)
A clamshell-style hole digger is the best tool for digging holes quickly and efficiently because you can go straight down. Use this tool in conjunction with a long steel pry bar to loosen any rocks along the way.
You will need a good stable large size wheelbarrow to mix concrete
in as well as haul away any excess earth.
Set your tarp around the hole and toss the dirt onto the tarp. It's effortless to shovel the dirt into the wheelbarrow then and haul it away from the site.
When you are done, spray and clean the tarp, and you are left with a cleanly dug hole and a clean worksite. Plus, you don't have to rake up hard to pick-up pieces of clay that fall onto your grass.
This is your workhorse shovel and will be used in all kinds of areas - not just digging holes. You can't get by without a pointed shovel.
Square Nosed Shovel
A square nosed shovel is excellent for cutting into sod as you lay out the perimeter of your deck. It is great for scooping up material from flat surfaces. Be sure to have one at your disposal.
Mixing cement with water in a wheelbarrow is a hassle and ineffective unless you use a hoe. Mixing water into the pre-mix requires effort, but it takes half the time using a hoe than any other type of shovel. Get one.
A trowel is handy when you are at the final stage of pouring the concrete into the piers. Pour a little extra cement into the sonotube so that you can create a bit of hump - flat out the top for the post anchor and slope the edges to promote water flow.
Heavy Garden Rake
A heavy rake is indispensable on a building site. Use it to slope soil, level or move gravel, clean debris from soil, and anything else that comes to mind.
Get Out There and Start Digging
Having useful tools for digging makes the entire process of building a deck much more efficient, enjoyable, and leaves you with a spotless work site. A clean work site impresses your wife or your client or your neighbors and maybe even yourself.
Attention to detail in every phase of construction shines through in the end product - a beautiful, well-built deck.
So you have no excuses, get out there and start building that backyard deck today!