What Is the Difference Between Excavation and Trenching?

November 21, 2020 12:12 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Need to cut a hole in the ground? Unless you’re getting out in the backyard with a shovel and some elbow grease, you’ll choose between excavation or trenching. The difference between excavation and trenching largely depends on the size, depth and shape of the hole. Whatever option you need, don’t try to do these yourself—they are dangerous and difficult jobs that require professional expertise.

Here’s what you need to know when you’re looking for excavation or trenching services in Roseville, CA, and how to choose between the two services.

Size and trench shape

Any type of excavation is designed to make a hole in the ground with tools or other human action. In construction, the size and shape of the tools and holes vary, which means the methodology changes, too. Size and trench or hole shape make the difference between excavation and trenching.

That is, excavation creates a hole in the ground of any size, shape or depth. On the other hand, trenching creates a narrow surface cavity, often used for laying utility lines and pipes and creating foundation footing. In other words, all trenches are excavations, but not all excavations are trenches. Knowing the terminology will help you accurately communicate your needs to your contractor.

The equipment used

Another major difference between the two is the type of equipment used to achieve the goal. If you’re excavating the earth, a whole variety of heavy equipment can be used, from jackhammers to backhoes. The type of equipment used depends on what kind of excavation you need.

Trenching requires specific equipment. They’re called power trenchers, and they have a digging blade like a large chainsaw. Alternatively, dirt-scooping backhoes can be used to create larger trenches. It all depends on whether you need something like a canal versus a simple utility line.

As you might imagine, the type of machinery used to complete a project has a big effect on how long it takes to accomplish the job. Often, large backhoes can dig canals quickly compared to other options—their large scoops help them move dirt quickly.


With any construction and excavation project comes a need for safety precautions. When you’re working with heavy equipment, the possibility for injury to person and property is high. Trenching is an especially fatal line of work, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For this reason, there are plenty of safety standards issued in an attempt to protect workers and bystanders.

If you’re planning on any type of excavation project, make sure you talk to your contractor about the safety standards they adhere to. Not only will it reassure you that your workers are protected, it will also help ensure that you and your property are protected. The safer and happier your contractors are, the better—especially if they’re doing a dangerous job on your behalf.

If you need excavation or trenching services in Roseville, CA, Es7 Comm-2 U, Inc. is ready to help. Reach out to us today to learn more.

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