How Much Does It Cost To Dig A Trench?

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated February 1, 2022
Excavator digging a trench
© sonsam / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

The typical cost to dig a trench that is 100 linear feet is $800.

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Many home improvement projects, such as reviving a dried out lawn with a sprinkler system or installing new drainage pipes for your yard, require you to dig a trench. The average cost of a trench sits between $400 to $1,200 per 100 linear feet, but what you’ll actually pay depends on what project you’ll be tackling.

How Much Does It Cost To Dig a Trench Per Linear Feet?

Unlike many other projects you’ve probably done before, digging a trench requires you to measure your project in linear footage rather than square footage. Most projects will quote you the trenching cost per 100 linear feet.

As an example, say you’ve hired a local landscaping expert to solve a drainage problem. They say it’ll cost $800 per 100 linear feet, and the job needs 300 linear feet of trenching. The cost to dig a trench in this scenario is around $2,400.

Trenching Cost Breakdown

Beyond linear footage, you’re also going to want to think about equipment, labor, and possible permits. The cost to actually dig a trench is relatively inexpensive but the real money comes into play when you’re done trenching and need to start installing pipes, wiring, or anything else your project requires.


Labor costs around $5.75 per linear foot. So if your home project requires a trench that is 200 linear feet, then you’re looking at spending around $1,150 in labor costs. But this often means that all the hard work is taken care of for you, so you get to sit back and relax.


Equipment costs around $3 to $5 per linear foot, on top of labor costs. If you own your equipment or if you hire a local backyard landscaping company that does, then you might be able to get this price down. Otherwise, renting equipment tends to jack up the price.


You’ll need to get into contact with the city or county when it comes to pulling permits. While you might not need a permit to dig a trench yourself, you’ll likely need a permit to install a utility like water or sewage. Permits typically cost around $500 to $2,000, depending on your city.

How Much Does Trenching Cost by Project?

The true cost to dig a trench comes from the price of the project you’re working on after you’ve dug the trench. Installing wires, pipes, and other materials requires permits and specialized equipment, so you might be in contact with your city more than ever before.

Keep in mind that many utility companies or specialists will insist that they dig the trench themselves, so these prices include the cost of digging the trench plus the installation of the project.

Drainage System

The trenching costs for a drainage system sit around $1,900 to $5,000, depending on if you do the trenching yourself. Those with yard drainage issues like excess flooding and soggy yards can opt to install a drainage system to help save their yard..

Underground Electrical

Installing underground electrical can help you out during natural disasters, as they tend to be more shielded from the elements than above-ground wires. Electrical trenching costs around $600 to $2,100.

Water Lines

Looking to upgrade your water lines or adding a new addition like a bathroom? Installing new water pipes will run you from around $600 to $2,100, including the cost of the trench.

Sewage System

A sewage system project costs around $1,400 to $4,600. This project typically costs more than some other common projects because the city needs to hook you up to their system without causing problems to other people’s sewage systems. You need to ensure that your new pipes don’t cause your neighbor’s pipes to back up and cause a sewage flood, so installing sewage pipes requires careful construction.

Gas Pipes

Want to finally take the leap into cooking with a gas stove, but need the pipes laid first? Hooking up new gas lines will cost around $300 to $800 to install.

HVAC System

Not all HVAC systems are in the walls of the house. Some are buried underneath and around the house to keep the ducts from being exposed to harsh weather. A new system will cost around $3,800 to $7,200, depending on the type of material used for the ductwork.

Add Foundation To Property

Adding foundation to the property can range anywhere from $4,300 to $13,300. If you only need a section added or replaced, you’ll be on the lower end of that cost. But if your entire foundation needs replacing, expect to pay the higher end.

How Much Does It Cost To Dig a Trench Yourself?

Digging a trench yourself is a fairly easy process if you don’t mind getting dirty and can dig effectively. A micro-trencher rental will cost around $125 per day, but if you have your own, then you’ll save money there.

Other items you want on hand are:

Sheets of plywood$20 per sheet
Shovels and spades$12–$100
Diaphragm hand pump$90
Flagging Tape$5

As for the installation of utilities, you should definitely leave that to the utility company or to any pros that you hire.

FAQs About Trenching

How long does it take to trench 100 linear feet?

On average, you’re looking at about 12 hours to dig 100 linear feet. Your actual work time will come down to how many twists and turns there are when digging.

How deep are trenches?

Trenches are typically 24 inches deep and 8 inches wide. However, your city or county may have specific ordinances that clarify the dimensions needed for the project. For instance, a water pipe may need to be 24 inches deep, but a drainage pipe may need to be 36 inches deep.

How long does it take the yard to look back to normal?

You may need to sod the areas you dug up once you get the “OK” from the contractor. It will take about 30 to 45 days for the sod to take root.

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