What is a Walk-Behind Trencher?

It’s an old truism that choosing the right tool for the right job is significant in working efficiently and getting the job done right. This idea holds equally true for both simple manual tools and modern construction machinery and equipment.

To stay competitive and relevant in the field, a contracting, construction, or landscaping business can’t afford to lose time and money spending extra hours and manpower on a task that can be completed faster and with fewer hands using specialized equipment.

As a highly versatile and relevant earth-moving machine, walk-behind trenchers are a must, and every construction or utility company ought to be aware of this piece of equipment’s benefits. 

This article will serve to explain the basics of what a walk-behind trencher is, its principle uses, essential factors to keep in mind while using, and the basic maintenance necessary for keeping the machine running in top shape. 

What is a Walk-Behind Trencher?

As the name implies, a trencher is a machine built for digging trenches, though there are several variations in design that affect how the equipment will perform depending on the task at hand. Walk-behind trenchers specifically are smaller and comparatively more agile than the larger riding variety of trenchers. Generally speaking, all trenchers operate around either a toothed metal wheel or a chain or belt to do their digging, with different models being better suited to different kinds of soil composition. 

While ride-on models have improved digging depth, can better slice through rock or pavement, and are better for digging long, straight lines, the walk-behind version is superior for jobs that require short but precise digging. Generally, this refers to trenches less than 250 feet or to jobs in residential areas that feature relatively confined spaces or obstacles like landscaping features, gates, fences, or vegetation. 

Principle Uses of a Walk-Behind Trencher

As mentioned, trenchers are basically used for digging trenches. However, “digging trenches” can cover a variety of different kinds of jobs, so let’s take a closer look at the various applications walk-behind trenchers are used for.

  • Irrigation Projects: Naturally, walk-behind trenchers are often used for digging in a straight line to install sprinkler systems, underground piping, or create irrigation ditches to water large farms or properties. 
  • High-Precision Cutting: As mentioned above, one of the main advantages of walk-behind trenchers is that their smaller, lighter build makes them great for any kind of work that requires cutting precise lines. They’re especially useful in terrain that makes precision work hard, such as very rocky soil or areas with lots of obstacles.  
  • Utility Work: Walk-behind trenchers are obviously incredibly important for utilities work that frequently requires laying wires, pipes, or cables underground or when workers need to access those same underground lines for maintenance or replacement.
  • Shoveling Dirt: Even though digging a shallow trench three to four feet deep with a shovel by hand is simple enough, walk-behind trenchers can do the same job in much less time with only a single worker required to operate the machine. 
  • Cutting Through Roots: Walk-behind trenchers are also great for landscapers and lawn care professionals since they can cut through the roots of plants and small trees much more easily than is possible with traditional manual tools. Indeed, many trenchers have a built-in blade explicitly designed to handle plant roots. 

Choosing the Right Trencher for the Job

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what walk-behind trenchers are and what they’re used for, let’s take a moment to consider some of the other vital factors that come into play when deciding whether a trencher will be useful for your job. In particular, one needs to consider the kind of soil you’ll be digging and then choose an appropriate chain that will be well suited to the soil in question.

For example, cup chains have cup teeth on every station of the chain and excel at scooping through soils that are sandy, loamy, lightly compacted earth, or loosely packed gravelly soil. On the other hand, shark or rock chains have stronger teeth better suited to cutting through very compacted soil, frozen soil, limestone, hardpan, and so on. There are also combination chains built for versatility, which can break through moderately tough ground conditions and still scoop loose sand or dirt out of the hole being dug. 

Lastly, it’s important to also consider comfort and ease of use. Some models will offer better visibility or maneuverability than others, while others might boast ergonomic hand grips for long stretches of digging or specialized tracks that provide better counterbalance and traction. 

Basic Maintenance

Last of all, if you’re interested in buying a walk-behind trencher, these quick maintenance tips are essential to keep in mind.

  • Before starting work, always look the machine over and check for signs of wear and tear. Never operate a trencher if it has broken or worn teeth, as continued use with a damaged chain can severely worsen the damage. 
  • Always be sure to keep an eye on the digging chain tension, making adjustments as necessary. 
  • Apart from parts that naturally wear down like the chain, do regular checks on your engine as well, topping up oil, coolant, and changing filters as necessary. Most manufacturers call for maintenance checks at 10, 50, 100, and 500 hours of operation.

Rent A Quality Trencher and Start Your Project Off Right

At Elephant Construction Solutions, our quality equipment serves professionals and hobbyists alike with high-quality tools and accessories that you’ll need to get the job done right. Located in the Rio Grande Valley, we offer many different options for rent, such as: saws, drills, and many other power tools, professional construction equipment, as well as other machinery, including air compressors, power generators, and even scaffolding. 

Reach out to us at Elephant Construction Solutions to get a free quote for any power tools or machinery you may need for your next job or project. Whether it’s as simple as a lawnmower, as important as scaffolding, or as small as a circular saw, we have the best in high quality products you are looking for.


Get a Free Tool Rental Quote

Need A Tool Quote?