How to use a trenching shovel is a question most first time gardeners ask. Find out here the proper way to do it

How To Use A Trenching Shovel

If you’re a gardener, then a trenching shovel is one of the best tools to have at your disposal because it is designed to help you dig and clear trenches. 

The trenching shovels come in different types and make; while some are specially made to have pointed, slim, and long blades, others are made to have a taper mouth blade designed to have a slightly narrower edge compared to the shoulder.

What Is A Trenching Shovel

The trenching shovel is a unique garden tool that is ideal for making trenches. As against the more frequently used digging shovel, the trenching shovel is designed with a narrower head, and most of these trenching shovels come with straight handles, but there are some models also with the D-handles.

Here are some common types of trenching shovel available 

  • The Square blade shovel
  • The Round blade shovel
  • V-Shaped shovel

Depending on what the shovel is meant for, you can opt for the straight head or the inclined head. If you decide to go for the straight head, what makes it noticeable is the blade head because it follows the same direction of the shaft, and this is ideal for working on cuts and edges of soil.

The inclined head is meant to remove the soil, and you can find different types of shovels in the market, with the most common being then 28, 35, and 90 degrees inclined shovels.

Also, it is right to say here that there are still some trenching shovels that come with a box-shaped head so that the soil scooped from the ground will not have a chance to escape when removing. Its design is meant to allow for more significant soil volume collection in a single sweep than other models.

Uses of A Trenching Shovels?

As mentioned earlier, different types of trenching shovels will make your garden activities convenient. If you’re using the shovel for the first time, here are some tips on how to use the trenching shovel 

Cutting and Edging

The straight blade trenching shovel is used to cut the ground so you can easily trace the trench path on the surface. The round blade and the v-shaped blade can also be used to perform this task as well.

Just place the blade tip in the right place you want it and insert pressure on the step with your foot – this applied force will help the shovel to have better ground penetration and easy scooping.

And once the blade is firmly inserted deep in the ground, turn the shovel shaft a bit – this gives you a chance to release the floor with perfectly clean vertical cuts.

When the job is completed, these blades are also handy if you want to do some edging so you can correct the last details that are left in the trenching walls.

Removing Loose Soil

After breaking or cutting the ground, the inclined trenching shovel will come handy to remove the loose soil. 

Square and V-Shaped Blades – are the perfect tool to handle soil removal from the ground. The tips of the blades can be used either pointing forward or backward. How to do this depends on the user and the condition of the area. 

The Box-shaped heads are the most widely used and most efficient for this case because they are specially designed to remove more soil from the ground in less time than any other types of trenching shovels.

Using the regular flat-shaped shovel will not be as effective because it will allow the escape of part of the soil, making you remove the soil several times.

Long slender blade with a ‘V-shaped’ edge – The blades design in a slimmer V-shaped point, and the pointed tip is meant to dig and plant on soft and already prepared soil.

It is essential to mention that some trenching shovels come in different blade lengths, up to 400mm, and is ideal for digging a deep path for a vegetable garden. Its slim blades mean that less soil will be removed and given your vegetable garden, such as a neat finish to your digging.

Taper Mouth Blade – this blade looks like a tapered mouth where the cutting edge is narrower at its shoulder. This type of shovel is best suited for dense and hard-packed soils that require more force to get penetration, and the slightly wider blade is most ideal when you want to carry large quantities of unwanted materials out of the way.

The blade and the socket make a full head and can be forged from one steel piece, meaning that the shaft-to-socket connection is one of a reliable socket or the less commonly used strapped socket connection.

Again, using the cheaper open socket blade continually is prone to break easily. However, whatever design you choose to use, you need to find a trenching shovel with a sharp blade and square sides to reduce the edging of the surrounding soil and make perfect neat trench walls.

So remember that a solid socket connection comes in a much studier shaft while the open socket easily creates a weak point at the neck after several and continuous usage. The solid socket helps prevent water from damaging the shaft by preventing water from entering the open ends.

Using a steel shovel gives high-quality welds on the metal joints. This means that the metal joint does not have any open points to allow water to enter, and it will lessen the risk of internal damage and rust. This means that there shouldn’t be any fragment seams – meaning the welds must be immaculate and as smooth as it can be, and the shaft should still maintain its standard length of 700mm.

However, if you need a much longer shaft length, you can contact the manufacturer to explain your requirements. If you’re digging around a live cable, it is advisable to use an insulated shaft to perform this task.

And if you want to install underground pipes, trenching shovels are convenient tools to have. If you’re going to work on your garden and try to establish some kinds of irrigation facilities, you will need to do some digging, which standard shovel might prove a bit difficult in this context. Although most people have this notion that all shovels are meant to dig holes in the ground without a problem, however, if you are using the regular shovel for the first time or you don’t have enough skill on using the shovel, it might take much longer to complete a task than expected. 

How To Dig A Trench

Here are some tips on digging a trench around your garden

Step 1

Use a pickaxe to soften hard soil because using a shovel to break hard ground will quickly tire you. The shovel is only meant to excavate loose soil once it is broken up.

Step 2

Use the point of your shovel to define the sides where the trench will be. and you can cut the sides of the trench with the shovel, so it looks vertical

Step 3

If the trench’s bottom gets too deep for the shovel to pull out more soil from, use the grub hoe. The reason is that the handle of the shovel and the blade are both inline, and therefore, the soil tends to fall back when you are scooping soil out of the deep hole. However, using the grub hoe with a blade that is perpendicular handle makes pupping the earth out easier.

Step 4

Ensure that all soils excavated from the ground are placed on one side, making it easier to access the other side of the trench.


Trenching shovels are quite an important tool to have as a gardener, and they are most useful when you need to dig holes around your vegetation. All you need is to choose the right shovel that will make your garden activities to become more comfortable and fun to do. 

Selecting the right blade type and the right inclination head goes a long way in helping your garden work to be more efficient, and the ones with ergonomic handles make the shovel smoother and give you a firm grip so that you won’t feel tired quickly and you can perform your tasks faster. 

Also, remember that protective gloves will help prevent your hands from getting blisters. Just follow the above steps to become a master at using the trenching shovel anytime you want to work on your garden.