My friend cannot currently allow his dogs in his backyard because they dig under his privacy fence. I wanted to fix it for him and just planned on digging a trench (8-10inches deep, 6-8inches wide) and burying chicken wire. Then covering the chicken wire in gravel.

Cost of rental not being a factor, mainly just time, what is the easiest way to dig that trench? It's a long enough fence that digging it manually seems like a bit much. Is there an excavator that can dig right next to the fence? Anyone solved this issue before?

Thanks in advance

  • Are the fence posts set in concrete, and if so, how deep?
    – mmathis
    Jan 30, 2018 at 18:01
  • A Ditch witch will make the job easy only digging 8-10" down could be done with the smallest model available. You won't be able to get within a few inches of the fence because of the tracks or tires, and you will only be able to cut in 1 direction , the dirt will be piled next to the trench away from the fence (the blade is usually offset) even when digging shallow make sure to call and request a locate (some times phone wires are closer to the surface than they should be. Cut a deeper trench then it would be easy to put some of the dirt next to the fence into the deeper trench and cover wire
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 30, 2018 at 18:59
  • This doesn't directly answer the question, so I am leaving it as a comment. I've read about a solution that seems to work very well. Inside the fence, lay down some chicken wire or welded wire that is about 1 or 2 feet wide, parallel to the entire length of the fence. You can anchor it with some landscape staples. You can leave it exposed or cover it with an inch of soil. If you leave it exposed, large parts of it will eventually be pressed into the ground anyway. This wire makes it impossible for the dogs to dig down.
    – Itsme2003
    Jun 24, 2020 at 17:17

3 Answers 3


In my experience, the easiest way to dig the trench is to let the dogs do the digging.

My former neighbor had dogs that would dig under her privacy fence. Putting a few bricks in the places they had started to excavate was enough to dissuade them from digging further in those locations. We used enough bricks to block the light through each hole they started.


I've used a trenching machine to install a sprinkler system. Obviously, one does not need a particularly wide trench to bury plastic pipe, but the concept applies here. The machine resembles a lawn edger in that it consists of a spinning blade and engine drive assembly.

If you picture a lawn edger, the blade rotates in the plane of the blade. This trenching machine rotates the blade 90° to the edger types, a flat scraping type motion. The device also covers the blade with a housing to direct the dirt excavated to one side and protects the operator as well.

EZTrench is one such product. I was able to rent the device for a reasonable fee in order to complete the sprinkler system installation. Based on the video, it appears that you would have a trench about six inches from the fence line, as clearance is required for the discharge chute. If the fence is not open construction, the excavated dirt will build up at the trench edge and may fall back in somewhat.

There are narrow trenching shovels that are handy for cleaning up the trench after excavating.

  • I was looking at trenchers but the "6 inches from the fence line" is what I was trying to avoid. Ideally, the chicken wire I'm burying is stapled to the bottom of the fence and is a straight line into the ground.
    – Dylan Buth
    Jan 30, 2018 at 17:30
  • I expected that the distance involved would make this answer less than ideal. If one is adventurous, one could either remove the safety guard (wow!) or construct a similar device from an edger, although the latter would have very limited depth. The "chain saw" type trenchers are going to permit closer cutting, but are going to be more expensive to rent.
    – fred_dot_u
    Jan 30, 2018 at 18:50

I think you should lay heavier wire than chicken wire. The dogs will dig at first and the chicken wire might damage their paws.

Rather than dig a trench, what about laying wire on the ground and staking it in place with U-shaped stakes which hold it down?

  • The thought with that was, they will just dig under the wire. One of his dogs it pretty determined to escape. Thought he would have a pretty hard time digging 18inches down though.
    – Dylan Buth
    Jan 31, 2018 at 14:12
  • So will you . . . What about a hot wire electric fence? Jan 31, 2018 at 22:05

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