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Can a Trencher Cut Through Gravel? Yes, Other Uses

Suffice it to say that when a homeowner calls about digging up their landscape, the last thing they want to hear is the trencher won’t get through the gravel.

Fortunately, the answer is yes, the trencher can indeed dig through gravel. In fact, the trencher can get through more than just dirt. It can also dig up hard-packed clay and a number of other materials you wouldn’t think could be trenched.

However, we can’t stress enough the need for deep excavation preparation in general and in particular for the yard.

There are many reasons why preparation is so important, but to highlight a few: it not only saves time and money, but also improves the quality of the finished job.

If you think about it, how can anyone expect to have a great looking yard without properly digging up the roots?

And, if it isn’t properly prepared for trencher installation, then how can it be expected to hold a trencher as it goes through digging the trench?

It just doesn’t make any sense.

So, the question is: are you prepared to give your yard the attention it deserves?

In order to answer the question more fully, however, we have to break down the question further: What is a trencher?

This blog post will give you more information on working with trenchers.

What is a trencher?

A trencher is a machine that is generally used for deep excavation. It can be found on jobsites and in landscaping, especially with drainage and irrigation trenches.

It is basically a horizontal cutting machine that has been adapted for use in landscaping.

It can be used to perform many other functions such as cutting trenches for pipe, corduroy surfaces and other contoured surfaces.

The machine has wheels on the bottom of each side which are typically either individual or dual caster-type wheels. This allows for the machine to be maneuvered in a 360 degree radius and also ride along the top of the ground .

There are many different types of trenchers on the market, but they all share a few basic features.

Most can be adapted for various uses and are capable of digging and cutting through a wide variety of surfaces. While some models may differ in complexity, most trenchers share these features:

  1. Trencher wheels – The trencher will have either toothed metal wheel or chain on each side. These are used for maneuvering and also to support the weight of the trencher as it works its way through the ground.
  1. Digging / Cutting head – The digging/cutting head is a large auger that rotates and can be propelled forward. It is powered by a hydraulic motor and usually mounted on the top of the trencher frame in front of the tractor or skid steer.
  1. Hydraulic motor and pump – These are used to turn the auger which powers the digging/cutting head. They are powered by the tractor or skid steer that pulls it and typically connected via a hydraulic hose .
  1. Hydraulic hoses – The hydraulic pump is connected to the trencher by hoses using a quick release coupler.
  1. Power connection – The power for the trencher will come from the tractor or skid steer which pulls it. You may also see models that run off of their own diesel or electric engine.

How do you use a trencher?

When using the machine, most of the time you will be using the part where it digs or cuts. This is called the dig head.

You can use a trencher to dig trenches that are anywhere from a few inches to several feet deep, depending on how you set it and depending upon the trencher’s size.

In some cases, you will want to dig trenches for drainage or irrigation. Other times, it may be used to prep your yard for sod or seed installations.

Some trenchers can even be used to cut trenches or channels into areas that are too hard for a plow or shovel.

Some of the most common uses for a trencher include:

  • Drainage Trenching – One of the most popular uses for a trencher is to create drainage trenches.
  • Landscape Trenches – You can use a landscaping trencher for many tasks. You can dig or cut trenches in the ground for pipes, drainage and irrigation.
  • Walls – A lot of times people have masonry walls that need to be torn down. You can use a trencher to dig holes for bricks, stones and other items to pull them out of the ground.
  • Seedbeds – If you have larger areas of ground that need to be prepared for planting, you can pull out the sod and then use a trencher to dig, remove blocks of unwanted material and then refill the area.

Can a trencher cut through gravel?

Pebble and small gravel are used around the yard occasionally, but for the most part when you buy stone or gravel it comes as a large boulder.

Dealing with this type of smooth stone is difficult. It’s too big for a shovel, but a trencher can really give you an edge in your landscaping.

As long as you have a trencher with the right attachments, gravel is one of the things it can dig and cut.

A trencher can be used to dig a hole with the blade, load it into a dump bucket and then scoop up gravel in whatever amounts you need.

Boulders can be an issue for a trencher, but you can usually leave them where they are and just make a trench around them, or break them up with a rockbreaker, marble breaking machine, or a hydraulic stone splitter machine.

Oftentimes in construction you will have one of these machines sitting idle for a few days. This is when it can be used to knock down stones and load them onto a truck to be moved.

In some cases, you can bring a portable rock crusher and crush the stone as it’s being cut.

You may be interested to know how long the work will take when using a trencher to dig up a trench.

Let’s find out.

How long does it take to dig a trench with a trencher

Numerous factors determine how long it takes to dig a trench with a trencher.

To get an idea of how much time should be spent on the project, let’s look at just a few.

  1. Length of the trench – The length of the trench determines how long it will take. The longer it is, the more time it will likely take to dig.
  1. The soil type – Trenchers work best in medium soils that don’t have a ton of clay or gravel.
  1. The attachments – Having the correct attachments is key when it comes to time-saving.
  1. The operator – This is the biggest factor in determining how long it will take to dig a trench with a trencher. It depends on the skill level of the person operating the trencher.

So, how long will it take for an experienced operator to dig a trench?

It would probably take a couple of hours, like 12 hours for 100 linear feet.

The time may be reduced in some cases where no excavation is needed. For example, if the trencher is being used to lay sod or cut a new lawn and no digging is required, it could be done in less time.

Consider this before using a trencher on your property 

Laying sod with a trencher isn’t that difficult.

If you have to dig down for pipes or something like that, then it’s going to take a little bit longer and be more difficult.

Shallow trenches can also be used for irrigation, and you don’t have to dig very deep at all to use them.

You can also go with a larger trencher that has the ability to do much more than just dig trenches, like dig up an entire field and move the soil.

When digging trenches, it’s important to be aware of any buried utilities.

Before you try to cut through a utility line, make sure the responsible parties have marked the exact location of utilities in the ground so you don’t accidently lay into them.

Cuts into utility lines can be very costly to all parties involved, so it’s best to avoid them when possible.

If you have a buried line that has to be brought to the surface, you can dig around it and then call in a trenchless pipe installation service.

When using a trencher, you have to be careful. In order to do this, you need to know how deep the trenches are going to go and what is underneath them in order to avoid any damage.

Dealing with underground cables is another area where you need to hire a professional.

A trencher can cut through underground cables rather easily, so it’s best to wait for professionals to deal with this issue.

Also, you have to think about the mess.

You are going to have a layer of soil all over your property, so you will need to get rid of it.

Use a trencher for your next landscaping project!

So, can a trencher cut through gravel? You bet it can!

Now it’s up to you whether to use a trencher for your next project. There is much to consider, such as gravel depth, width of your trencher and surface conditions.

Trenchers do have their place in the gardening world, along with many other tools of the trade.

The most important thing is to educate yourself about what each tool does and how to best use them.

Stay ahead of the daily grind with this great info!