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How To Dig a Trench By Hand (6 Easy Steps)

Essentially, digging a trench by hand would save you the cost of paying rent for a power teacher tool which is a reasonable alternative to hand digging.

You might easily get overwhelmed if you believe that there are too many complicated processes to dig a trench. It’s not that hard, and anybody strong enough can do it. And if you don’t know how to dig a trench by hand, we will show you how in today’s guide.

This complete guide has worked for us and many of our audience. So, let’s quickly get it started!

How To Dig a Trench By Hand: Step-by-Step

1. Don’t Dig Until You Call

Contrary to what you thought, you don’t just pick up a shovel and start digging. Just as it is crucial to get your essential digging tools like the trenching shovel, marking paint, and picking ax, it’s also important to call 811 before you start digging.

This call will save you from lots of trouble as it would help you ensure you are not digging up your gas, power, or underground water.

Homeowners within the US or Canada can Call-811 or visit their respective webpage to call the attention of their utility provider to your plans of digging a trench.

In most cases, they would come to your property to inspect and show you where your underground utility is.

2. Map Out Your Trench Path

With marking paint, you can map out the chosen path for your trench. This would give you the accuracy and precision you need in building a usable trench.

Your mapped-out path would act as a guideline. As a result, you can expect to dig a uniform trench with custom twists and turns when necessary.

The disadvantage of not having a path mapped out is that you might end up with a not-so-fit trench because mistakes would happen, and there’d be nothing to keep you in check.

While mapping, you’ve got to be sure how narrow or broad your trench should be. You’d also decide which dimension is more fitting for whatever your purpose of digging a trench is.

3. With a Trenching Shovel, take out your first dirt

After mapping out your trench path, start digging right away. Please make use of your trenching shovel, and with it, take the dirt with the sharp end of your trenching shovel.

A trenching shovel is more appropriate because it makes your job faster, and it’s more efficient than spades or any other equipment of that form. A trenching shovel allows you to dig your way through hard clay.

4. Use Pick Mattock to Remove Obstacles

Too often, when digging a trench, there’s always the possibility of hitting debris, rock soil, roots, and rough grounds. When that happens, you’d need a mattock tool.

With the ax, you can break complex environments or debris in your path to digging a trench. The mattock tool essentially has two sides: chopping the hard ground and taking these problematic parts out of the soil. A task your regular trenching shovel would struggle with.

5. Digging Trench with a Hoe

The hoe is a better alternative to shovel or mattock in some conditions. After digging and taking out some of the loose soil present within the trench, there’s a possibility that you’d leave out some of the loose soil.

Using a shovel might not be appropriate for this residual loose soil. But a hoe seems just right, given that it is shaped with handles that make dragging out the loose soil relatively easy.

6. Check for Dimensions and Slope

You aren’t done just because you think you are. That’s pompous. Go over the trench again and clarify that you’ve used the appropriate measurement for the dimension and slope of your trench.

If your trench would have water run through it, then you’ve got to ensure it slopes downhill enough to make water run through it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best tool for digging a trench?

Some of the best tools you should get your hands on if you need an effective means for digging a trench includes; a pickax, a trenching shovel, and a hoe.

Can I dig my trench?

Yes, Everybody can dig a trench. But not everyone can do it manually. Understanding your strength, landscape, and the approach that works for you is the best way to get started whenever you want to dig a trench.

What is the fastest way to dig a trench by hand?

Your speed and how fast you dig a trench would depend on the tools you use while digging. Many of these tools are pretty promising, but it’s always efficient and presumably fast when you use sharp tips and long heads.

Can I run all utilities in one trench?

Yes, technically, you can run all your utilities through one trench. These scenarios are usually referred to as joint trenching. And unlike trenching that runs a single utility, joint trenching must run on some specification to keep it safe.

Water and electric lines should have a 12 inches spacing, same as communication and electrical lines. Gas and electric lines should have a 24 inches spacing similar to sewer and electrical lines.

How deep should a sprinkler trench be?

It is advised to dig your trenches for sprinklers at 8-12 inches deep. But if you stay in a colder climate where the ground freezes, you should keep them at 18 inches deep to ensure the sprinkler gets earth warmth to function correctly.

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