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Question DetailsAsked on 7/22/2016

how much would it cost for me to hire some to dig 4 feet 7 x 11 sq ft in my back yard using power hole digger.

it would 4 feet below the ground; 7 by `11 feet sq ft. it has to be done manually using a power hole digger and the soil that was dig must be carried out to the track to be thrown away somewhere in the community. I need two people to do the job. this is a project I have for dog pools. I have 3 dogs and i want them to have a small pool to swim and play around at my backyard. Any thoughts?

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2 Answers


I don't see why manually with a power posthole digger- do you have a non-removeable fence that a bobcat or such can't get past opr such ? Or lawn you don't want messed up ?

You are talking about roughly a good sized dump truckload of dirt coming out IF straight sided hole (more about that later) - possibly 50% more if you have to slope the sides for stability. Probably generally in the $400-600 range for your dimensions IF bobcat or utility tractor could get to the hole to dig - by an Excavation or Landscaping contractor.

If HAS to be hand-dug, unless in clayey soil or similar soil that is hard to dig AND will stand basically intact during the digging, one would normally not use a power hole digger - normally shovel with maybe a touch of help from a pick, or with a jackhammer with spade blade if a stiff soil that does not collapse easily when digging it - and probably about 40 man-hours work by hand with one-two guys digging while another wheelbarrows (power wheelbarrow if able to get past obstructions) to the truck or (more likely) to where the bobcat or loader can drive to to dump the wheelbarrow into the loader bucket and haul away the material and load the truck, then swap off every half hour or so. Probably about $1000 ballpark cost in that case - more if quite hard digging or a lot of cobbles or any large boulders. Same contractor categories, plus some Handymen.

A couple of thoughts -

1) if you can find a nearby spot with easy wheelbarrowing to dump the stuff on your property, would save you some bucks in having to load a truck and dispose of it - especially the hauling to truck and loading it issue might go away, even if it means getting some landscape timbers and building a large planter box or strip planter berm with the pile of dirt - or using it to build a berm to control yard runoff or such.

2) if can get a tractor in there save some $ too - most wood/vinyl/metal fences can be partially disassembled in quick order to make a big enough opening (typically 1 panel wide) to get a tractor through, if wheel scuffing on lawn/drive/walks etc is acceptable. Another option would be to dump the wheelbarrow into a larger size utility tractor (or backhoe) backhoe bucket reaching over the fence, then turning to load into the truck parked by the fence. Or rig straps to the wheelbarrow or to a lifting box for the backhoe to lift and dump in the truck. Another labor cost saving alternative might be a contractor with (rare) or a rental (easy to find) conveyor reaching over the fence to the truck to load it.

3) On the pond - unless you have pretty clean soil, dogs will be a muddy mess after this in most soils - you might have to line with sand then gravel then rounded cobbles to make it "clean" - or shotcrete or concrete it in with traction grooves or such on the ramps and edges, though of course concreting adds quite a bit more than a couple hundred $ more to the cost.

4) Also on pond - you need serious ramping/sloping on the sides for the dogs to get out - if one panics or gets exhausted he/she is not going to necessarily be able to climb out over a sharp edge - you at LEAST need a good wide ramp at each side for them to get out. Abd ramp should be something their claws will dig into easily - well pounded-in rock or gravel that will not roll excessively under their paws, or treated timber cross-slats enbedded in the ground or some such. Also, consider a panicking dog - not likely to head to the ramp, may try endlessly to get out over the edge - so the edge would have to be good traction, and the water level would have to be close to the lip elevation so it could get itself up and over the edge. And this assumes dogs are in good physical lshape, not real old, unless you intend to supervise them the same as you would kids.

5) Consider that the dogs will be pretty active in the pool, so the sides and bottom have to be wear-resistant or they will in short order have the banks broken down and all piled in the bottom of the pool. Very few soils would stand near-vertical after digging even if dry - in wet condition, basically only bedrock, so you are going to have to slope the sides about 2H to 1V (30 degree slope) anyway to have any chance of stability - far flatter than that in soft clays, silts, sands.

6) 4 feet deep sounds like a pretty deep pool for the dogs - most dog exercise pools are about 2 to not more than 3 feet deep.

7) I commend what you are doing for your dogs (or is this an exercise pool for a doggy day care ?) - but bear in mind that legally it will be treated as a swimming pool for kid safety (and you have to consider dog safety too - probably don't want them in there unattended if deeper than the shortest one's leg length) so will probably have to have a legal (4-6' in different areas) and in some areas spike or barbed wire topped, and definitely self-latching and locking safety fence around it. You would have to check in your area how high the fence has to be and how deep the pool can be without needing a safety fence - different states have different requirements but generally 4 or 5 foot and in some areas 6 foot minimum "unclimable (see brochure link) fence height is required. This "pool" definition applies to any water-holding feature including hot tubs, saunas, etc exceeding typically 18 or 24" maximum depth of the "hole" - maximum possible water depth NOT what it is usually kept at but some communities have stricter regulations or codes.

Here is a CPSC guideline (not Code) document on the subject -

Another consideration - how you are going to frequently drain and disinfect the pool - because it will accumulate dog hair and shedded skin in profusion, and dirt they track in, urine, possible xxxx at times as well as tending to go stagnant - so ease of cleaning it out should be a major consideration, also where the water will go when drained needs to be considered so it does not cause problems to your yard or neighbors, because you are talking about 2300 gallons of water - or more like 4000-5000 if flattened sides. That is a pretty good sized flood for a yard.

My bottom-line thought - if you keep it real shallow some concerns go away, assuming you have full locking perimeter fence around the ayrd for the dogs and no small children visiting your house. Also, just a water trough in the yard a foot or a bit more deep and 5 or so feet in diameter would keep most dogs quite happy, and you could possibly provide it with a large-diameter drain pipe with valve at the outlet so you can drain the water out periodically and use a hose to flush out the pool - though drainage may have to be very slow to avoid drowning out your neighbors' yards. I know our neighbor's 3-6 dogs (depending on if grown children's dogs are over) have a great time in about a 4-5 foot diameter by maybe 8 inch high flexible plastic wading pool in the hot days of summer - though claws are hard on the plastic liner.

Easier alternative- depending on how often you intend to have them play in it and somewhat on size of dog - just get a hard (to avoid nail damage) rigid plastic wading pool at Walmart or similar box store for about $35 (I saw a 6 foot diameter one that price the other day at a box store) and fill it only at play time, then dump out onto the lawn when done and put it up somewhere where they cannot chew on it. Or even maybe a gravel-lined hole in the yard or some built-up railroad ties or landscape timbers to make an enclosure that you throw one of the infamous blue tarps into when ready to fill, then to empty just grab two corners and pull to the other end to empty out the water. If done with built-up berms or wood frame with drainage under the bottom boards would minimize the muddy hole issue when it is empty too. Would have to have fairly low angle ramp at ends of course for them to get out if not long-legged, and tarp might only last a year or two before it leaks too much but a reinforced 12x12 or 12x14 tarp from Amazon or Harbor Freight is about $20 or less. Could go through a lot of tarps or wading pools before you reached $500-1000.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


BTW - one other consideration if water is expensive in your area - you size hole would be about 2000-5000 gallons depending on whether your dimensions exactly, or significantly sloped out on the sides which is more likely. (that is about 300 to 770 cubic feet if you pay for water by the cubic foot - or about 3-8 ccf or hcf (hundred cubic feet) if your rates work that way. Cost per hundred cubic feet can run from around $0.20/ccf in very low cost areas to more than $10/ccf in high cost areas, so to fillthis pool could run from as low as a dollar or two to as much as over $30-80 - possibly a consideration in the sizing, depth, and especially whether you line it to prevent leakage or not which could greatly add to water use. Of course, if one a well, unless your well is short of water price of water is not a significant consideration - a few cents of electricity to run the pump is all in that case.

Of course if in a drought area with water use restrictions on pools and ponds, you would have to abide by them too.

One other thing - be sure not to put anywhere near a significant slope or such and potentially cause slope instability due to water getting into the ground - again especially if not lining it because you have relatively impervious soil.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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