Best Tools to Dig a Trench

Tools to Dig a Trench

Equipment like trenching shovels, mattocks (pickaxes), hoes, and rakes are essential for converting labor-intensive tasks into simple work when you need tools to dig a trench in your lawn or garden. It would be best to use a walk-behind trencher to complete a long trench (more than 250 feet) because it will make the job go faster.

Use caution when using any manual or electric trenching gear, and verify with nearby utilities to be sure your trench won’t break any underground water, sewer, or power lines.

Best tools to dig a trench

The trench-digging equipment you use will depend on the project. The ideal method for creating the first excavation for most backyard trenches is using a trench shovel and pickax. After that, use a drain spade or hoe to form the trench. Finish the trench by raking out extra soil to complete it.

Use a border trenching tool to cut precise borders.

The best way to excavate deep trenches on challenging terrain is using a walk-behind trencher. In gravelly soils, hand digging can be very taxing. For small, precise trenches, use border trenchers. Selecting the appropriate instruments for the task makes your trench-digging process quick and simple.

A standard trenching tool kit consists of a drain spade, a rake, a pickax, and a trench shovel.

A walk-behind trencher might be needed if the trench needs to be dug on very hard or rocky land.

General-purpose trench shovel Corona SS

A trenching shovel is essential for hand-digging a drainage trench or installing a water line. The Corona SS Trench Shovel, which has a triangular point and a sturdy design, is the best in its class. This shovel has received five-star evaluations and may be readily used to dig trenches up to 230 feet long manually.

Mattock Pick Tabor Tools

A vital trench-digging tool is a pickax like the Mattock Pick Tabor Tool. The mattock side of the pick slices through tree roots and scrapes out soft soil, while the pick readily breaks up hard rocky ground. Your trench dig will be safer and simpler thanks to the fiberglass handle of Tabor Tools’ 35-inch pick mattock, which helps to reduce weight and boost durability.

Eye Hoe by Solidtools

Even the best trench-digging shovels could have trouble dislodging dirt from a trench and breaking up the ground. The Solidtools Eye Hoe is designed to withstand demanding soil-moving and excavating jobs. The five-star reviews gush about how it handles heavy soils quickly and holds up where other tools fail. As you clear the way for your new trench, a tool like this can cut through challenging roots.

Drain spade made by True Temper

The True Temper Drain Spade is the ideal trenching shovel in terms of design. The comfort step spreads widely enough that you can quickly drive this point into the earth, and the circular nose naturally shapes your trench to lay drainage pipe.

Saw-Tooth Border Edger by Ames

For narrow trenches to lay a border around your flower bed or garden, the Saw-Tooth Border Edger by Ames is the tool for the job. Its design allows it to cut through thick sod, soil, and roots and easily carve out a detailed and winding path. It’s the right choice to create the trench you need before lining your garden with a rock, brick, or another border.

True Temper Bow Rake

Any set of trench-digging tools is ideal, complemented by a good garden rake. Once you’ve completed the preliminary work using a shovel, ax, or motorized trencher, you’ll be able to remove loosening dirt swiftly and effectively from your trench using this rake from True Temper. Instead of removing loose dirt with a shovel, using a rake will be quicker and easier. With this one, you’ll save a ton of time.

Safety Precautions Before Digging a Trench

Identifying any utility lines in your yard before you start digging is essential. Use the Call Before You Dig program to inform your local utilities about your upcoming trench project if you live in the United States or Canada. The utility companies will label subsurface utilities on your property so you can dig safely without damaging water or power lines.

The nationwide “call before you dig” hotline is 811. Before beginning any digging project, phone 811 or visit the website of your state’s 811 centers to request that the approximate position of any subsurface utilities be marked with paint or flags to prevent unintentionally damaging any lines.

Tips for Trenching

  • When trenching, wear foot, eye, and hand protection.
  • When operating a walk-behind trencher, wear hearing protection.
  • Make sure there are no obstacles in the way of your work that could be dangerous.
  • Always dress appropriately when utilizing trenching equipment, including long pants, supportive boots, and work gloves.
  • Tools used for trenching are sharp and dangerous if not handled properly. Please make sure everyone using the equipment does so without putting anyone else or themselves in danger.

Can You Use a Chainsaw to Dig a Trench?

Never dig a trench with a chainsaw. Rocks and dirt are not intended to be in contact with chainsaws. Chain, bar, and engine damage will result from using a chainsaw to dig a trench. Chain breaks caused by contact with underground rocks can be quite dangerous.

Chainsaws are designed specifically to cut wood. Avoid using your chainsaw when the chain and bar need to be forcefully cut through the ground.

Can You Use an Edger to Dig a Trench?

Don’t buy a trencher and edger tool just for digging trenches. These tools are excellent for edging yards but useless for digging fresh trenches. They frequently have shallow blades that can’t cut sufficiently broad or deeply for trenching.

Industrial walk-behind trenchers, available for rental, are the ideal power trenching instruments if you are not digging a trench by hand. Cheaper edger/trencher sets are only good for excavating shallow, narrow trenches.


  • Marji

    My great-grandfather planted and maintained a large garden when I was a small child. He grew enough to feed many of our neighbors. His love of gardening is what sparked my lifelong interest in gardening. My grandparents continued his direction, as well as my parents. It was natural to have a garden of my own and continue the process, enjoy the results, and to share with others.