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How Long Does It Take To Dig A Trench By Hand

Digging a trench is not easy because it follows a process and correct tools. The proper trenching tools are required to dig a trench swiftly and easily by hand. The job will be quick and easy using a trenching shovel, pick mattock, and hoe.

You have t make sure your intended trench won’t interfere with any subsurface utilities after you have the tools.

This is how you must dig a trench using tools, but it is also possible to dig it by hand. Now, you may question how long it will take to dig a trench by hand? What will you need to dig shallow trenches?

How Long Does It Take To Dig A Trench By Hand

When Digging A Trench By Hand, How Long Does It Take?

The approximate labor period is 1 hour per 10 feet or 3 meters of digging shallow rough trenches. Although this amount varies depending on soil type, depth, and the number of obstacles encountered, 10 feet per hour is a decent starting point—plan on spending the entire day excavating a trench that is 100 feet or 30 meters long. A longer or exceeds 100 feet trench may take many days to complete. (Learn How Soon Can You Grout Tile)

7 Steps to Digging a Trench by Hand

Digging trenches by hand may appear complicated, but it can be completed quickly and easily with accurate tools and processes. Digging by hand saves money over renting a machine trencher, and it’s not as complicated as it appears. With these digging process for trench digging by hand, you can avoid paying for labor and make a deep trench drain through hand digging.

1. Before you dig, make a call.

Make sure your trench won’t interfere with subsurface, power, water, or gas utilities before digging up any part of your yard. Use the Call-811 website or phone line to notify utility companies of your planned project in America or Canada. They will come to your home and label drainage and utility lines or drainage ditch in your yard for free.

  • Call 811 ahead of time to let them know you’re going to start digging.
  • Call 811 for a free service to come to your home and label utility lines.
  • This helps avoid damage to underground services, which could be dangerous and expensive for you.

Call-811 will save you money because it is free. Knowing where utilities are located is far preferable to inadvertently destroying your line of gas with a shovel.

2. Assemble your equipment

When digging a trench warfare, having the right tools is crucial. Attempting to break ground with inadequate equipment will increase your work and make the job appear more impossible. Gather the following items before you begin.

  • Paint for marking
  • shovel for trenching
  • Pick a mattock (garden hoe) or a grubbing hoe (grubbing hoe).
  • Tape measure

You can complete your trench project quickly with the appropriate tools and a good pair of work gloves. You’ll be blister-free and have a new trench by the end of the day.

taking notes

3. Make a note of your trench path.

Mark the trench’s course using this marking paint. You may make a straight, uniform trench by drawing a clear line for yourself to follow. You can also make your curves and bends to make a trench. It will be more difficult to dig a trench that follows your planned course without a clear indication. (Learn How To Fix A Low Spot In Concrete Patio)

  • Make a clear trench trail using chalk or paint.
  • Calculate the length and width of your trench. Is it going to be a narrow or a type of wide trench? What will the depth be?
  • Dig 18 inches deep by 9 inches wide trench for drainage trenches (45 by 23 cm).
  • Dig a ditch at least 5 to 6 inches deep and 4 inches wide for electrical cables (15 by 10 cm).

It’s a good plan to start making the trench dimensions as soon as possible. Drainage trenches containing a pipe must be 18 inches deep and slope downhill to carry water. An underground electrical line must be at least 6 inches below ground level.

4. Begin by using the Trenching Shovel.

Start digging with this trenching shovel once your trench path has been marked. It has a triangle point that allows it to pierce the soil easily. With this shovel, you can dig a trench line much faster than you can with a standard spade. It can even break down hard clay soil quickly. This is what you’ll use to dig the first trench.

5. Clear Obstructions with the Pick Mattock.

Have you come across roots, rocky dirt, or uneven terrain? It’s time to put your pick mattock to work. The pick side is fantastic for getting under boulders and pulling them out of the ground, while the mattock side is excellent for chopping through tree roots. The mattock helps shape and enlarge deeper trenches and powering where a regular shovel might struggle.

6. With a Hoe, Clear the Trench.

After excavating and loosening the earth with the shovel and picking mattock, you’ll be given a trench that’s still full of loose material. Save time and energy by drawing wobbly soil out of the trench using a hoe instead of the backbreaking task of scooping it out with a shovel. (Learn How To Remove Glue From Engineered Hardwood Flooring)

A hoe is an excellent tool for moving dirt and shaping the trench to your desired depth and width. It can create the proper trench depth and shape trench walls.

7. Make sure the dimensions and slope you want are met.

Go over your trench again now that it has been delved and cleared. Check numerous spots along the path using your metal measuring tape to confirm they meet your intended width and depth. If your trench is for drainage, ensure it has a smooth downhill slope with no flat or high areas.

To prepare your trench, use your desired pick mattock and hoe to rectify any flaws. Your trench will be ready to use once this is completed. You can proceed by laying electrical wire, installing a drainpipe, or anything you have in mind.

digging a trench

What is the Quickest Method for Digging a Trench Using Hand?

If you’re digging a trench by hand, a trenching shovel is the most efficient instrument for the job. These shovels feature long heads and sharp points. You can excavate to the desired breadth and depth with a single scoop. Trenching should not be done with round-nosed shovels or spades. Your shoveling time can be cut in half with a trenching shovel.

  • The day before excavation, water the soil for an hour.
  • To quickly dig the trench, use a trenching shovel.
  • To dig up boulders and breakthrough thick mud, use a pick mattock.

You can easily dig straight a wet soil than a dry dirt. Your job will be slowed if your soil is too dry. Set your sprinklers to rinse the area where you will dig the trench to make the process simpler on yourself. The before you decide to dig the trench, water the ground for an hour. This will help you work more quickly.

Tools and Shovels for Hand Trenching

using a hoe

1. Trenching Hoe

It’s also known as a Grub Hoe. The trenching hoe is designed to dig trenches with a flat bottom up to a depth of 24 inches and 5 inches broad.

The simplest way to describe how to use a hoe is to look at these photographs. It’s the same motion as a power trencher, but it’s done more slowly and “one bite at a time.” A trencher creates an inclined ramp in the earth, constantly irritated and dragged up and out. Trenching with a hoe is the same thing; substitute “chops” for “abrades.”

2. Spade for Drainage

It’s also known as a Tile spade or a Sharp Shooter shovel. The drainage spade was designed to dig shallow, rocky trenches up to 12 to 13 inches deep and 5 inches wide.

The thin circular point is ideal for cutting through hard soil, sod, and earth-containing boulders. The blade’s considerable length makes digging small ditches for drainage and public utility simple. The long-handled variant is used by construction crews, while homeowners and plumbers prefer the short-handled version.

3. Shovels for Trenching

When digging a trench, shovels are used to dig narrow flat-bottomed ditches up to 18 inches deep with a 4-inch width. They’re also known as step trench shovel because of how the upturned back surface allows you to press down (step on) the shovel while it’s in the trench with the toe of your boot. Their handles have steep lift angles, which aid in raising soil from the trench but make them a little hard to use. (Learn Can You Paint Foam Insulation)

4. Bottom Digger

The unique bottom digger can also remove the loose soil from the bottom of any trench dug with a powered trencher. It’s unique in that it collects and removes loose and light dirt from the trench’s base using a pull and lift movement. It is significantly more ergonomic, quick, and causes lesser back injuries compared to a shovel-style clean-out tool.

5. Clean Out Shovels

These are used to get rid of the loose and light soil, also known as crumbs or spoil, that is left at the bottom of every power trencher-cut trench. This creates a firm, level surface on which drainage and pipes can sit.

Without using expensive machines, you can dig a trench for your drainage or any other reasons rapidly utilizing these tips and cheap tools. A trenching project in most backyards may be done in a single day using machines and right equipment. However, if you plan to do it by hand, it might take days, depending on how big and wide it is.

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