How to Decide When to Use a Trencher or Horizontal Directional Drill

March 28, 2022 8:26 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Making the decision to use a trencher or horizontal directional drill (HDD) can be difficult, especially when there are a number of factors like training, costs and location to consider. The first thing you should do is to become as familiar with the area you are working with as possible. Knowledge of the geography of your work area will help you decide which method is best for your next project.

Evaluating the Cost Restoration

The first step is to evaluate the cost. Trenching is cheaper than HDD, but it can also be more disruptive and cause more damage. If you have a tight budget, trenching may be your best option. Trenching works best in underdeveloped areas, such as rural regions.

You will also have to consider restoration costs when working with trenching. Such restoration is not a requirement when using HDD.

Trenching requires more work to restore the ground to its original condition, while HDD leaves a smaller footprint. HDD drilling also has higher training costs due to the necessity of a higher skill set.

Working Around Existing Utilities

Another important factor to consider is the location of existing utilities. Trenching can easily damage underground pipes and cables, while HDD is much less likely to cause damage. HDD can burrow under streets, yards and driveways while allowing people to go about their business.

When working around utilities, HDD is the clear choice. HDD can also be used in areas where trenches are not possible, such as on hills or around buildings.

Existing Conditions

Take into account the existing conditions. Trenching is better suited for working in open areas with few obstacles, while HDD can be used in tighter spaces.

HDD is your best option for drilling under or around obstacles, whereas trenching can damage these utilities. However, if you are dealing with shallow ground, you will need to use trenching.


You must also consider the project timeline. Trenching is faster than HDD, but it can only be used in certain areas. If you need to cover a large area quickly, trenching may be your best option. If you have more time and need to avoid damage to existing utilities, then go with HDD.

In conclusion, the decision to use a trencher or HDD depends on many factors, such as cost, timeline, existing conditions and the location of utilities. By taking the time to evaluate your project, you can choose the best option for your needs. Both have their advantages, but it’s important to understand when each method is best suited for the task at hand. Hopefully, this article has provided some clarity on the matter.

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