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Can I Use An Edger To Dig A Trench?

If you need to dig a trench but you've only got a lawn edger in your garage, you might be wondering if it could get the job done. We're curious too, so we did some research, and here's what we found out.

Yes, you can use an edger to dig a trench, but the depth of the trench will be limited to the depth the edging tool can reach. An edger can only dig a trench between 1-6 inches deep and 1-3 inches wide.

If you want to dig a trench to lay down wires or lawn sprinklers, then a shallow trench should be enough and a lawn edger could be helpful. However, if you need a deep trench for major projects like the installation of utility lines or drainage systems, then an edger may not be the right tool to use.

If you're using a manual edger, it can also make the task longer to finish, so it's not a recommended tool if you're under time pressure to accomplish a project.

Would you like to know the steps on how you can use your edger to dig a trench? Read on below as we show you exactly how it's done and how deep an edger can dig into the ground.

Can I Use An Edger As A Trencher?

Cutting the lawn with cordless grass trimmer edger

Yes, you can use an edger as a trencher if you apply the right digging technique. If your goal is to dig a long, narrow hole in the ground, an edger can get the job done. The only difference is that an edger digs shallow holes while a trencher digs a much deeper hole.

So before you start digging, you need to be clear about your reasons for digging a trench. If you're only digging for property boundaries, then an edger will suffice. However, if you intend to lay down utility lines or install a drainage system, then an edger may not be the right tool to use.

Why so? Based on installation code requirements, the proper depth trench to install direct burial cables in a residential area is around 6 to 24 inches deep. An edger simply cannot dig a hole that deep.

An edger will be helpful if you're only laying down wires for lawn lighting or small PVCs for sprinkler systems. Otherwise, you will need to use a trencher which can dig deeper and wider holes.

Below are examples of how some people successfully used their edgers to dig up a trench.

Converting Edgers Into Trenchers

To maximize the use of his edger, one homeowner used his DIY skills and converted his edger into a trencher. However, you can only do this with some models of motorized edgers. Here's a video below of how it was done.

Using Edgers To Install An Invisible Fence

According to online forums, Many have successfully used an edger to install invisible fences on their property to help manage their pets. According to discussions, running two blades side by side can help cut a wider hole.

How Deep Does An Edger Dig?

A standard lawn edger can dig 2-6 inches deep and 1-3 inches wide into the ground. This is the average depth, whether it's a manual or a motorized edger. A landscaping trencher, in comparison, can dig 12-48 inches deep and 3-16 inches wide.

Types Of Lawn Edgers

Landscaper using edger to edge sidewalk, Can I Use An Edger To Dig A Trench?

If you want to use your edger to dig a trench, you need to understand the capacity of your edger. What kind do you have and how deep can it dig?

There are six types of edgers which can either be manual or motorized. Which one is yours?

Manual Edgers

Man using an old edger tool to create a neat vegetable plot in the garden

  • Spade-based - standard semi-circular blade with a flat top to allow the user to step on it, push down and move the blade in a rocking motion to dig into the ground
  • Roller-based - operated by pushing a push-roller wheel on a flat surface adjacent to the lawn ground to make edging easier and faster
  • Edging hand shears - comes in single-hand ground-level edgers to ones with long handles with adjustable lengths

Manual edgers are very helpful if you have small projects and uneven sidewalks. However, it would be tedious to use if you have a large lawn because the job will take longer. Roller edgers are the easiest to use especially for long distances.

Check out this popular AMES Saw-tooth edger with T-grip on Amazon.

Motorized Edgers

Grass flying in the air after being cut by an edger on a sunny winter afternoon

  • Adaptable string trimmers - the head of the trimmer is vertically attached
  • Single-wheel purpose designed - specifically designed for easy maneuverability intended for ending longer lawn distances
  • Multi-wheel purpose designed - functions like the single-wheel but built for heavy-duty work

Motorized edgers are ideal for those with large lawns, and those who will use the tool for landscaping services or doing big projects.

Check out this Lithium-ion cordless string trimmer on Amazon.

How Do You Use An Edger For Trenching?

Electric 56V cordless mower, blower, trimmer and edger

Before you start digging a trench in your lawn, make sure the area is clear, the weather is appropriate for outdoor work, and the ground is not too dry. Here's what to do:

  1. Trim the grass and remove any leaves and twigs in the areas where you're planning to dig the trench.
  2. Using a garden hose, water the entire length of the area where you're planning to dig. This will soften the soil and make it easier for your edger to dig into the grass and make deeper holes.
  3. Outline the area where you're planning to dig so you will have a visual guide once you start digging. You can use a rope or landscaping spray paint to mark the area.
  4. Once the soil has softened, you can start digging using your lawn edger.
  5. Follow the outline. Go back a few times and repeat the areas where the trench seems too shallow or not properly run through by the edger.
  6. Use a spade to dig into the trench and dig out some of the loose soil to further deepen the hole.

Check out this video below on how to dig a short trench using a manual edger and a spade.

Digging tips:

  • If you're using a rotary lawn edger and the blades start to cut slowly, you can back up the edger several times until it moves smoothly again.
  • Manual lawn edgers can easily cut through roots by stepping on and putting more weight into the edger.
  • To increase the width of the trench, hold the edger at an angle when you dig.

Are Lawn Edgers Worth It?

A lawn edger is one of the best tools to keep your lawn and garden looking pristine, trimmed, and tamed of unruly grass and weeds.

Edging tools can last for years, especially manual edgers if it's used properly and the blades are not dulled by frequent contact with hard surfaces. Nevertheless, the blades can be sharpened using a bench or angle grinder.

Edgers can be expensive, but if you have a lawn to maintain, the cost will be worth it over time. You will probably use it four times in one season, so if you compute the cost and the years it will last you, then it should be well worth the price.

Buying your own edging tools is much more economical and practical than frequently hiring lawn maintenance services. Buy a manual tool if you have a lawn edge of fewer than 50 feet. Use a motorize one if you have a bigger lawn to avoid back-breaking work and to get the job done faster.

Lawn Edger and Trenching Tool In One

If you're in the market for a trenching tool and can't decide whether to buy an edger or a trencher, then you don't need to think any further. You can have them both. There are now multi-purpose lawn tools available like the product below.

Check out this BLACK+DECKER 2-in-1 edger and trencher on Amazon.

Wrapping Up

Landscaper using edger to edge sidewalk

You can use any type of edger to create a shallow trench. If you don't own an edger or a trencher, and only need it for some minor digging, you can ask a friend or a neighbor if you could rent one. Chances are, there are a lot of people who own edgers that they hardly use, and would be glad to rent them out for a fair price.

Thank you very much for reading through. If you want to learn more about how to maximize the use of an edger on your lawn, check out these other articles below.

Can You Use An Edger Along A Fence [Without Causing Damage]?

Can You Edge Wet Grass? Should You?

Should You Edge Your Lawn Or Mow First? [What You Need To Know]