How Deep Can I Dig in My Backyard?

How deep can I dig in my backyard

Last year we had an extension built onto the back of our house. The builders dug some very deep holes in the backyard. This naturally led on to my son wanting to know if we could dig an underground bunker! Being a big kid myself, this appealed to me, but meant I just had to find out just how deep I could dig in the backyard to achieve this.

How deep can I dig a hole in my backyard? In the United States, you are legally allowed to dig hole in your backyard up to 5 feet deep. However, you must firstly call 811 to seek permission. Any hole deeper than this will require a special permit. 

It doesn’t matter where on your property you dig. Similarly, if you want to dig in your front yard, you can dig 5 feet deep but need permission after calling 811. 

Now, it might not be an underground bunker you want to dig deep into your backyard, it could be a pet you want to bury. 

How deep can I dig a hole in my backyard?

That’s the quick and easy answer above, but there are other factors to consider as well. Keep reading if you want to learn more about digging deep holes in your backyard. 

How deep can I dig a hole in my backyard
Know where you can dig in your backyard before you get too deep.

How deep is it safe to dig on your property?

Before you start digging make sure you call 811 or speak to your local building authority so you do not break any laws. This rule applies regardless of how deep you want to dig a hole in your backyard. 

Despite this, in the interest of science, an individual could potentially dig a hole around 300mm deep (12 inches) without encountering any underground utilities. Any deeper, and they would risk hitting a water pipe or internet cable.

What happens when you call 811 about digging a hole in your backyard or front yard?

Calling 811 is a straightforward process. My friend recently had to do it when his grandparents asked me to help them carry out excavations on their property. There are two ways you can get in contact with them. 

Firstly, you can visit the CGA site, pick the state you reside in, and then submit an online application. They will then give you a ticket so you can check up on the progress of your application.

How deep can I dig in my front yard
You can dig deep in your front yard or backyard providing you have permission.

Secondly, you can just give them a call on 811. From here, they will get in contact with any local utility operators in your area. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that this process can take a few days, depending on the state you live in. Once this has been completed, a team of inspectors will visit your property and mark out any areas where there are buried utilities.

Hopefully though, you will get the approval and can dig your own backyard without any concerns over hitting pipes or electrics.

How do you know where you can dig in your backyard?

When digging a hole in your backyard, it’s important to know where to dig, or more importantly, where not to dig in your backyard. Without doing so, you could potentially cause issues for the whole neighborhood and be landed with a huge fine. 

Although it can be tempting to risk it, all it takes is one little mistake to end up in hot water. 

As I mentioned earlier, you need to call 811 before starting any excavations in your backyard. Their services are extremely helpful and will help you understand where you can dig in your backyard. They do this by locating and marking underground utilities on your property. 

Can I dig in my own backyard
By the time you get this far it might be too late get permission!

This includes stuff like fiber optic cables, gas pipes, electricity cables, telephone wires, and water pipes. 

Once this work has been carried out, you will need to be careful to give any areas the utility workers have marked a wide berth. 

Don’t remove any stakes or rub out any markings. What’s more, it’s a good idea to take pictures of the markings in case they fade over time. 

What rules are there for digging in your backyard?

It’s always a good idea to follow the rules when digging deep holes in your backyard. Thankfully, these rules are simple enough to follow. 

Firstly, you must avoid digging too close to utilities and their markings. In general, a safe distance is between 18 to 24 inches away. 

Additionally, you will need to avoid using heavy mechanical equipment like excavators near these utilities as well. 

If you have no choice but to dig close to one, maintain your distance and use a smaller hand tool instead of a shovel. In certain cases, you might be required to use a scanner to figure out how deep service lines and water pipes are located. 

More on digging deep holes in your backyard

Below, I have provided some answers to other important questions you might have about digging holes. 

How deep can you dig a hole in the UK? 

Laws for digging holes in the UK are different than in the US. In general, the rules are stricter and licenses are pretty much a requirement for anyone who wants to dig a hole in their garden. 

According to the information I’ve found, UK residents are only allowed to dig 100mm or less. Any deeper and they will need to obtain a permit. Helpfully, this permit is called The Permit to Dig. 

Unfortunately, this includes the digging involved in many common garden tasks, such as installing signs, fence posts, post boxes, and planting shrubs beds. 

However, strangely enough, UK residents are allowed to dig to 300mm if they are carrying out essential maintenance on an existing shrub bed. 

How do you dig a deep hole in your backyard?

Knowing how to properly dig a deep hole in your backyard is key, as there are certain strategies you should follow. Here’s how I’ve done it in the past. 

First, grab a can of white spray paint and outline the area where you wish to dig. This will help prevent you from accidentally digging the hole too wide. 

Next, it’s important to find an appropriate shovel for the job. I find the sharper the shovel, the better. Similarly, make sure you are wearing the correct boots, so you don’t slide around while digging. 

Once your preparations are finished, grab a mattock, and begin getting rid of the topsoil. Mattocks are handy tools designed to tear out roots and other nuisances commonly found on the top layer. 

After this task has been completed, you can start digging with a shovel. Start from the perimeter first and work your way inwards, making sure not to dig too fast to avoid injury. I also like to use a tape measure to keep track of how deep I am digging. It’s also a good idea to keep a wheelbarrow close by where you can easily dispose of the soil. 

What is the deepest hole you can dig?

During the Cold War, the US and Soviets both created ambitious projects to drill deeper than ever before.

The Soviets won the “competition” for digging the deepest hole with their effort known as the Kola Superdeep Borehole.

According to some, this is the entrance to hell. This is the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the deepest manmade hole on Earth and deepest artificial point on Earth. The 40,230ft-deep (12.2km) construction is so deep that locals swear you can hear the screams of souls tortured in hell.

BBC Future,

The Kola Superdeep Borehole SG-3 was dug in 1989, and still holds the world record for the deepest artificial point on Earth.


The bottom line is that you won’t know how deep you can dig in your backyard until you’ve sought the correct permission to ensure there are no hazards.

Call the 811 number, consult with them, and then you can dig deep until your heart is content.

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Categorized as Backyard