1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Catch up on the conversation about fertilization strategies for success with the experts at Koch Turf & Ornamental in the Fertilizer Application forum.

    Dismiss Notice

cost per foot to dig a trench

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by jrumbaug, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. jrumbaug

    jrumbaug LawnSite Member
    from WV
    Messages: 9

    I'm new to residential irrigation and still trying to get a grasp as to "what is standard or typical". Today's puzzle is trying to estimate the cost of digging the trench that the pipe lays in.

    I am writing a quote for my second job. My first trench was dug by hand by 2 men. When I look at the first job. It took 62 man hours to remove sod, dig and then re-fill, then replace sod on 240 feet of trench. That figures to about 1 man-hour per 4 feet. If I charge $20/hr per man, that's about 5$ per foot labor to charge for the service. Did I have slow employees or is this somewhere near reality?? Off the top of my head, I would have guessed $2/foot to be used to calculate how much to charge.

    Or secondly, maybe someone can tell me where to read about the prefered way to dig an irrigation trench? I may be working the hard way and wrong way.

    Thanks in advance

    Jim Rumbaugh
  2. CAPT Stream Rotar

    CAPT Stream Rotar LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,193

    Whats your soil like? Clay?
    I would get a trencher

  3. jrumbaug

    jrumbaug LawnSite Member
    from WV
    Messages: 9

    Ok, you caught me. Not a lot of clay here in the hills of West Virginia. It's new construction where dirt has been brought in. I will ASSUME it's an easy dig.

    By the Way. Do you think the homeowner would notice I slipped in the cost of one those trenchers under "miscellaneous supplies" ??

    Jim Rumbaugh
  4. WalkGood

    WalkGood LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,910

    Depends on what else was done ...... did they plant watermellon seeds in that trench? Or was a finished product an irrigation system put in that trench?

    Maybe they dug a too wide trench or too deep? Was it 95 degrees out and over 90% humidity?

    What was the scope of the entire job involved with that trench? Three sprinkler heads or 30 heads on 6 zones?

    More info is needed.
  5. Waterit

    Waterit LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,931

    Hey Cappy, mine's bigger than yours, but we do have some trouble getting into some folks' backyards...


    Seriously, Jim, I have never broken down a per-foot cost for trenching or laying or restoring.

    I think a better question is, how much did it cost, labor and materials, to lay in a spray zone, a rotor zone, the controls, the mainline, etc. Then you can come up with a per-head cost that should be semi-accurate.

  6. CAPT Stream Rotar

    CAPT Stream Rotar LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,193

    A few things to think about when trenching:

    1.how deep?
    2.soil climate? sand,clay
    3.what are you installing? sprinks
    4.roots and rocks?
    5.machine V hand digging? I prefer a machine
    6.Heat/Humidity as already stated? digging in the sun all day is not that much fun

    we charge 1.50 a foot with the 255 to install 1 inch NSF poly 8 inches in the ground.

    pics plz
  7. greenmonster304

    greenmonster304 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,680

    you what happens when you ASSUME don't you? I have found that on some new construction the digging is harder because the construction vehicles compacted the soil and then they just spread 2" of fluffy top soil. so do your self a favor and dig a little test hole
  8. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    You want help estimating HAND excavation and installation of lawn irrigation?

    Ok, no comment...............
  9. jrumbaug

    jrumbaug LawnSite Member
    from WV
    Messages: 9

    I agree, I SHOULD of dug a test hole.

    As to what all was done when the guys dug.
    They just dug it and covered it, about 12" deep, about 8" wide.

    Laying the pipe, setting the connections, setting the heads is a separate cost estimate in my "just learning how to do this" phase. The guys I can get to dig, I don't trust to make good connections or set the heads. Buying a machine is in the far future. I doubt if vibrating plows can be rented locally though I have not looked. ( nor do I know how to use one) I don't know about "ditch witches" I don't know about the cost and technique of mechanized digging. I have personally never seen it done locally. I do have a lot to learn. When CaptSteamRotor said, " we charge 1.50 a foot with the 255 to install 1 inch NSF poly 8 inches in the ground" , is a good starting point for me.

    Jim Rumbaugh
  10. CAPT Stream Rotar

    CAPT Stream Rotar LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,193

    hey brotha....the ditch witch 255sx is a sinch..


    any questions shout me out via pm if you would like.....also check out my manifold videos

Share This Page