How Do You Trench A Sprinkler Line? (Explained)

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Irrigation can be a complicated process that requires a lot of tools, patience, and know-how. Trenching a sprinkler line is just one way of making it more efficient.

Trenching a sprinkler line involves digging holes in which to bury the pipes and the sprinkler system units. The first step in trenching a sprinkler line is to map out the plan for it. Then dig the trench either with hand or using a trencher.

Control valves for irrigation system

How deep do you bury sprinkler lines?

Irrigating a lawn or garden can be done with a sprinkler system with lines buried or on the surface. A buried sprinkler line has been seen to be more efficient as the pipes are protected from surface impacts. The trench for a sprinkler line is usually about 8 to 12 inches deep.

The width of the trench should be between 4 and 6 inches. The trench may contain two pipes. One for the water and another to contain the sprinkler wire. It is not compulsory to have two pipes as the wires may not be put in a pipe.

The depth of the trench for the sprinkler line is dependent on the climate of the area. For a mild climate environment, 8 to 12 inches is enough depth. But in places with freezing climates, the trench needs to go deeper than 12 inches.

In such climates, 18 inches deep trenches are more appropriate. The increased depth is to allow the line to convey water without it freezing up. The digging should put the pipes below the frost line. It may be instrumental to contact environmental authorities for the recommended depth below the frost line.

How do you trench a sprinkler line?

A sprinkler line is buried in trenches below the soil surface. The course of the sprinkler must first be decided through mapping of the area. This can be done by first deciding the capacity of the sprinkler head and how much area is to be covered by each.

The mapping must clearly indicate the number of pipes that will be needed and the path each will follow. To make the trenching easier, paint makers can be used to mark each line course. Once this is done, the trench digging is the next process.

The trenches can be dug by hand or using a trencher. In the case of digging by hand, the ground can be prepare by wetting it a day before. This will make the process easier than working with dry and hard ground. The wetting can also be done few hours before the digging.

It is best to dig by hand after a rainfall if there is any. Digging by hand is the better choice if you have plants already on the field. A trenching machine may destroy the plants and even some underground utilities. Using a trenching machine is the fastest and easier option, so it is best to confirm its suitability before use.

The trench should be about 8 to 12 inches for a mild climate region. It can be as deep as 18 inches in places with freezing climates. The digging can be done using a shovel, ensure to avoid destroying sods if you have grass cover already.

The sod can be gently lifted with the shovel and placed on one side of the trench. The soil excavated should be placed on the other side of the trench. This will allow for easy replacing of the soil and sod after the digging.

To use a trencher, you can rent one from a gardening store or lawn supply store nearby. All underground utilities must be confirmed to be out of the trench network. A vibrator pipe can also be used in colder regions. Do not use a trenching machine near buildings or on a steep slope.

Once the trenches are dug, it is time to bury the pipes or hoses. The trench must be deep enough in places where the sprinkler heads will be placed. This is to allow the head to be level with the floor for effective sprinkling.

Ensure to lay the lines on an even gradient for an effective flow of water through them. This is particularly important when the water pressure may not be so high. Before covering the lines, they can be secured. Secure the lines in place using U-shaped gardening spikes.

Gently replace the soil and sod after laying the lines for the sprinkler.

How long does it take to dig a trench by hand?

Trench digging by hand can be an arduous task especially if the course is long. The time needed to dig the trench will depend on the length and depth. The shorter the length and depth, the shorter the time needed.

Averagely, digging trenches may take up to 2 or more hours. Consider that the planning of the course is also an important part of the process. For about 10 feet long trench digging, about an hour of work is needed.

The time is better determined based on length and depth. It is also necessary to consider the soil consistency. It will generally take longer to dig a hard soil than when it is soft. There can be obstacles on the trench parts too, increasing the work time.

How do you bury a sprinkler line?

The sprinkler system needs to have the pipes and the electrical wires all well buried. The best way to do this is to use a PVC pipe to cover the wire. Both the water pipe and the wire pipes can be buried in the same trench.

Each trench with a depth of about 10 inches and a width of 4 inches is enough to contain both components. If there is no PVC pipe for the sprinkler wire, it can be placed about 2 inches away from the water pipe. Putting the wire in another PVC pipe is still the safest thing to do.

Placing the wire away from the water pipe will protect it if there is a need to repair the water pipe later. The wires should go under the pipe to prevent damage during later digging. The wires are connected to each of the sprinkler valves when multiple sprinkler heads are used.

The trenches are covered with soil. Medium-sized pebbles or sand can be used to lay a bed under the pipes before finally covering them with soil.

Man Digging Trench to Replace Sewer Line Pipes and Lawn Sprinkle

What tool do I need to dig a trench?

To trench a sprinkler line, the digging can be done manually. This will require simple tools like a shovel. The only major tool required may be a shovel when dealing with a soft soil consistency and an absence of obstacles.

Obstacles like tree roots on the trench path may require the use of other tools. A pick mattock or pickaxe can be used to clear such obstacles. In dealing with soil with hard consistency, the pickaxe or mattock can be used to break up the soil.

Another tool that is needed is measuring tapes for accurate length measurements. To know when the right trench depth and width are reached. It is also needed to know the length of the whole trench line.

Garden hoes can also be instrumental in the evacuation of the soil when digging. The shovel may be too big for the width. The garden hoe is good to remove loose dirt and soil particles from the trench.

Pipes for conveying the sprinkler line and the water pipes are primary for the job. To end the day without blisters and cuts, hand gloves are advised.

Final Words

Trenching for a sprinkler line can be a daunting task when not well planned. It can be easily done with the right tools and first with the right information. The soil consistency and the length of the trench are factors to tell if digging is best with a trencher or by hand.

The depth of the trench is fine between 8 and 12 inches for a mild climate. The width depends on the size of the pipe or pipes going into the trench. It is best to bury the wires in a PVC pipe to elongate its life span.