Skip to Content

How To Dig A Trench for Drainage (6 Simple Steps)

Water is life, and it’s essentially something we all can’t do without – but sometimes we have to do away with it, especially if you have too much of it flooding your space or environment.

In most cases where doing away with this excessive water flow is necessary, drainage is the only solution we can think of, and by many standards, there are ways to go about it.

Digging a trench for drainage is the best solution anyone can think of. By many standards, there are different approaches to it.

There are three unique finesse options you could use (more on this later!) for trench drainage. But regardless of which of these options you choose, digging a trench is the first important part of the puzzle.

This article will teach you how to dig a trench for drainage in 6 easy steps!

How To Dig A Trench for Drainage

1. Making a Digging Plan

Before digging, you have to be sure you know what you are doing, and there is no other way to guarantee that except by having a fully fleshed-out digging plan.

It should consist of everything, and to ensure you leave nothing out, it remains your duty to write out these plans as it forms.

A digging plan should entail:

  • Dimensions and Slope
  • Finishing
  • Digging schedule

Dimensions and Slope

For a drainage trench, the dimension and slope are very crucial. You do not want to end up with a trench that doesn’t empty out. So, you should first determine the slope of your plot and build a trench in the direction of the slope or build a trench that’s 1 inch deeper every 10 feet.

After determining the slope, you should move on to choose a suitable dimension for your trench. Your dimension should consider proper length, width, and size for the trench.

Usually, a width of 9-12 inches is appropriate for a traditional drainage trench, and it is a width you should consider.


With every other plan in place for your digging, you should never leave out finesse. How you plan to finish the trench or how you generally expect it to look.

There are 3 unique finesse looks you can choose from. They include:

  • Drain and pipe
  • Dry Well
  • Gravel

Drain and Pipe

Suppose you want a cleaner drainage system that runs perfectly underground; the drain and pipe system work for you. It involves digging your trench, laying your pipe, and sealing the trench.

Dry Well

The dry well system is essentially an in-ground barrel with holes that dries the drainage water that empties into it. It’s a classic system and could also work in compilation with the drain and pipe system.


If your water drains quickly through the soil in your homes, then a gravel finesse can work for you. It does not involve much.

After digging, you can cover your trench with gravel, and this would permit the water to slip through and get soaked into the soil.

2. Choose your Equipment Wisely

After setting a digging plan, it’s the right time to choose your equipment. Here’s is everything you need to dig your trench successfully.

With all these in your arsenal, you can be confident nothing could go wrong.

3. Call 811

Now that you are prepared to start digging, place a call to your utility company. They should show you where your gas and electricity are placed underground. This measure would ensure you don’t run into trouble digging.

4. Water the Ground a Day Before

If you’ve been cleared on where you can dig, take about an hour to water the ground the day before you explore. This will ensure the soil is easy to dig.

5. Measure and Mark out the path you Intend to Dig

Mark and map out the outlay of what your intended trench should look like. This would give you foresight into what you expect when digging your drainage. Setting these landmarks is the best way to start yourself up on these fronts.

6. Start Digging

If you’ve followed through, there’s nothing to be scared of now. You are ready to dig, so dig! Please start with the shovel and jam it through the dirt to make the soil loose and take them out of the drainage until you get to your desired depth and then move forward with it.

Get one inch deeper after digging for a length of 10 feet and continue until you’ve got to your desired length.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fastest way to dig a trench?

If you want to dig a trench fast, you should start with watering the dirt for 1 hour the day before you trench. Follow up using a trenching shovel to remove the dirt and have an ax around if you hit hard soil or rock.

How deep should a drainage pipe be buried?

A standard drainage pipe is meant to be between 13-18 inches deep. If you are digging a trench for a drainage pipe, then you should consider how deep you want to bury your utility pipe and dig a suitable trench.

Can you trench when the ground is wet?

Water would make the soil sticky but easier to dig through. So, it’s always best to dig your trench with some moisture in the earth.

What is the best tool for digging a trench?

The trenching shovel is the best tool to have in your arsenal when digging up a trench. It’s powerful because it can quickly get you in and out of the way. But even at that, it still has its limitations, and as a result, it’s always best to use it alongside essential trenching tools like an ax.

How do you dig a trench with a shovel?

It’s straightforward. Use the pointed end of the shovel and make sure to get the hard and tight soil loose for removing then; all that’s left is to move the soil out of the way. However, you cannot just start with digging because you feel like it.

You have to call 811 to find out where you can or cannot dig in around your home. Then you can proceed with making landmarks on the areas you intend to dig.

Related Articles: