Here in California after several years of drought, we have ripped out the lawn and installed a drought tolerant landscape. Because of this, our trees have suffered. So I needed to install root feeders. The easiest way to do this is to bore a hole into the earth and fill it with pea gravel to provide a path for water to get to the roots. A couple of standard drip lines should provide more than enough water to nourish the tree.
Here I'll show you how to make an auger that is perfectly suited to this task.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Cutting torch
- Arc welder
- Angle grinder
¼" plate steel
¾" emt conduit
- 1½" pipe
Step 2: Metal Prep
Cut a piece of quarter inch plate steel as wide as the width of your intended hole. It should be at least 12" long. Weld a piece of 1½" pipe onto one of the short edges of it. This pipe will be your twisting handle. Use caution when welding to galvanized pipe. The zinc clad of the galvanize it quite poisonous when it burns so use adequate ventilation.
Step 3: Twist!
Clamp the remaining short end into a vice. Just enough to get a secure grip. From here heat the entire plate of steel. When it's nice and hot, grab the pipe and twist anti-clockwise. Doing this will make for an auger that digs when rotated in clockwise direction.
Many factors come into play here. How hot you can get the plate steel. How secure your vise is. How strong you are. I wasn't able to get my plate very hot and my vise is not very secure because it's free standing on an old table base.
The result is I was only able to get about one full twist into the metal. It also went off at a weird angle, so I was only able to salvage a small bit of the twist. Luckily, it was more than enough to do the job.
Step 4: Cut Out the Auger!
Cut the auger away from the pipe twisting handle and put a crude point on it. Hit it with the angle grinder to give it a nice clean edge. And remember, that steel blade guard is there for a reason. Leave it on the grinder.
If you didn't get enough twist on the tip of the auger blade (like I didn't), just heat it up some and bend it with a big wrench till you like the angle. Quench the blade in water while it's still hot to harden the steel.
Step 5: Attach the Auger to a Handle
Slot a piece of ¾" EMT conduit and wedge the auger blade into it. Weld it in place. Clean up the twisting handle from where you separated it from the blade and weld it on to the other end of the ¾" EMT.
Step 6: The Auger Is Now Complete! Start Digging!
The auger is pretty easy to use. Just stick it in the ground and twist. It took about 15 minutes to dig a 2' deep hole.
We really love our trees, so these root feeders were essential.