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I need to dig a 3 foot trench in soft clay to put in a new water pipe.

If I use I drain spade to dig it about 16cm ( 6 inches) wide will I have enough space to do the digger?

Is there a better type of spade to use?

About what length of trench can fit people did in a day?

(I hope I will only need to dig about 12 feet of length, but may need to dig about 30 feet if I am forced to connect to the other road.)

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2 Answers

It's physically very difficult to dig a very narrow but deep trench. You may have better luck just renting a ditch digger/trencher, which is kind of like a big chainsaw for dirt. You can dig trenches that are very narrow, and the only thing that really slows you down with it is large rocks.

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You should have utilities marked before you dig (whether using a trencher or not). In some areas, this is enforced by law (eg: in Ontario, Canada, it is law under the Ontario Occupational Health And Safety Act).

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Its probably worth mentioning that a trencher will be more than willing to dig through a sprinkler line or anything else that is in your path. That can be slowed you down in having to fix what ever it is that you brake. –  Kellenjb Jul 6 '12 at 18:52
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And having a utility company come fix something you cut will cost you fees. Have the area marked! unitedlocating.com/callcenters.asp –  Scivitri Jul 6 '12 at 18:59
    
Thanks I hope I will only need about 12 foot of trench, so will not need equipment this scale. –  Walker Jul 8 '12 at 15:55
    
I just checked and these are not commom in the UK and none of my local hire shops have them - they look like a mean bit of kit! –  Walker Jul 8 '12 at 16:00
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What do you want to bury?

In my area, 4' deep is necessary to prevent freezing. 3' deep is required by code for power; but low-voltage lines (e.g. ethernet, fiber optic, telco, television) only have to be deep enough to avoid accidental destruction as the owner sees fit.

Clay can be a bitch. We live in glacial till; so we have layers of sand/clay. When you hit one of our clay layers, you need a pick to bust out little pieces. "Digging" is not an option. The conventional wisdom is to use a "ditch-witch" as described above. They can come equipped with a spool of conduit and a blade to dispense the pipe right behind the digger. After the conduit is in place, you just "blow" a string thru it with a vacuum cleaner; and use that to pull whatever.

There is a service here (actually required by law) called: "dig safe." One calls them and within a very few days, power, phone, cable, etc. show up and mark your designated area with chalk lines illustrating the path of their lines. It makes it fairly easy to avoid with a ditch-witch.

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In our area a water pipe must be not less then 750mm deap, our clay is soft so will dig by hand with a spade. –  Walker Jul 8 '12 at 15:54
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