How To Use A Trenching Shovel

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Though it is believed by the mass that all shovels are meant to dig holes in the ground it is not wholly true at all. Each shovel is designed to perform different job according to the users need.

The most common activity we perform with a shovel is digging trenches usually for underground pipe installation.

To assure the water supply and drainage system works smoothly in your garden you must need a trenching shovel.  So you must know how to use a trenching shovel for digging trenches or performing other activities in your garden.

Do you know how to do those? Don’t worry; we will guide you through this article how to use a trenching shovel.

What is Trenching Shovel?

You may wonder what a trenching shovel is. Actually among the many tools you use in your garden ranching shovel is one of them that use for digging trenches. In terms of regular digging shovel are trenching shovel have a narrow head. You can choose between the D-shaped or straight handles.

In the market you may find many trenching shovels of different models and types but most common types are:

  • Round blade
  • V-shaped blade
  • Square blade

Shovel heads will be straight or inclined depending on the use of it and also the tip of the blade maintains the same direction of the shaft. For edging and cutting soils straight tips are ideal and on the other hand to remove soils the inclined heads are the best to serve.

You can choose any inclination angles while buying perhaps the most common categories are 28, 35 and 90 degrees. The box shaped shovels are designed to collecting a greater soil volume in a single movement.

Drain Spade Vs Trenching Shovel

The term spade and shovel are differentiated by the experts according to their work and performance. Common people always mix these as one product.

By the way the drain spades are actually a D shaped spade mostly used for removing the loose soil or to cut a thin layer between gardens or for simple upper ground work.

The handles are straight but a little bend for better grip. It can be used for digging also but not perfect for perfect sized trench.

In contrast the trenching shovels are the ones with V shaped tip and straight handle known as trench digging shovel. Many handle contains triangular grip zone.

The best use of a trenching shovel is you can dig trenches very easily. You can remove the soil with box shaped shovel very effectively. So they both are designed for different purpose, you have to choose which one you need.

Uses of Trenching Shovel?

According to the models and shape there are different uses of trenching shovels can be found? Here are the main functions of a trench digging shovel are given below.

Cutting and Edging

For ground shaping or cutting you can use a straight blade trenching shovel for best performance. To trace the trench on the flat surface of ground it helps the most. In this case you may have to choose a round or V Shaped blade as they offer maximum support in these types of job.

Place the shovel tip on the ground and press it with your foot, use the body weight and now turn the shaft as it goes completely in.

You will get a perfect vertical cut by releasing the soil. They can help to correct the wall alignment as well as edging tools.

Removing Loose Soil

Square and V shaped blades are most suitable to remove the loose soil after cutting the ground as an inclined trenching shovel. According to the soil condition and surroundings the user can use the tip pointing backwards or forwards to loose or remove the soil from the trenching area.

The only model with box shape can remove a greater amount of soil than any other mode in the market within a very short time. On the other hand regular flat shape blades may bother you by removing the same soil again and again as it can gather less amount of soil at a time.

Easy Way to Dig a Trench

For many reasons you may need to dig a trench on your area for instance you maybe lay a pipe or electrical wire on your property or to remove water from your garden even for construction you need to dig a trench.

Depending on the need of the trench you may need a simple shovel or heavy machinery equipment for enormous excavations. According to your need you have to choose the easiest way to avoid back pain, time loss and hard work. Two ways are discussed here:

By Hand

Step 1 : To break the hard soil it is wise to use an axe pick and once the soil is loose use the shovel to remove the soil other ways you will become too tired while breaking hard soil.

Another reason is that while you punch the hard soil with your trenching soil the tip may become bending or it may lose its sharpness.

Step 2 : By using the pointy part of your trench shovel you can define the sides of your trench digging shovel. To keep the wall side vertical you need to trim the sides of the trench. Don’t make the trench too narrow because it will make your digging more difficult.

Step 3 : Pull soil out of the bottom of the trench with a grub hoe once it becomes too deep to use a shovel. Because the blade of the shovel is in line with the handle, the soil tends to fall off of it as you try to pull it out of a deep hole.

A grub hoe has a blade that is perpendicular to the handle, allowing you to pull it out of the trench with soil on it.

Step 4 : While removing the loose soil place them all in one side of the trench instead of putting here and there. Thus you have one side open for easy access and further work done.

With a Machine

Step 1: If you have to do something that may take several days of months you should use a machine instead of a shovel. The long and intimidating works as well as for very narrow trenches for pipes or wires a machine works best.

An abrasive chain goes inside the ground to cut the expected trench within very short time.

Step 2 : In case you are digging a trench for a house foundation you need to rent a backhoe for three or four feet wide and five or six feet deep trench digging at once. It is almost impossible to dig such trenches by hand because it will take a massive amount of time and hard word.

One more thing, do not try to operate the machine by yourself if you do not have any experience instead hire a professional for better job and to prevent any precaution.

Step 3 :  Before using such heavy equipment you may need to take permission from your local municipal authority to know there is nothing under the ground.

There may be gas lines, water pipes or internet wires in the area where you are digging your trenches. If you damage any of these you will need to pay a huge penalty for that. So be careful while doing so.

What is the easiest way to dig a trench?

Actually it depends on the types of work you need to complete. If you have some simple digging or removing soil then doing it by hand is the best option. On the other hand if you need to dig for construction or in huge quantity then using a machine is the only option. So it varies.


As you have learned about the different types of trenching shovels and their various use now you are ready to choose the appropriate one for you. Before buying any of the digging shovels make sure for what types of work you need it.

Choose the shape and the inclination of the head wisely and select a comfortable handle for better grip. Wear garden gloves to protect your hands from swelling and following these guidelines you will become an expert on digging trenches.

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