DIY: Trenching Electrical Wire

Outdoor lighting and electricity is one way to make your outdoor living spaces more usable.

Dig your trench with a sharp shooter spade.Dig your trench with a sharp shooter spade.
Most outdoor electric uses, or service for garages and other outbuildings will require running power from the main service in your home to the receptacle, electric panel or other fixtures. The safest and simplest way of doing this is to bury your wire from the house to where the electrical service is needed.

Check your local building codes before starting. Most municipalities require at least an 18-inch deep trench, while many require 24-inches.

Start your trench against the house, on the wall nearest your electrical circuit breaker box. Drive a wooden stake in at this point and one where you need the wire to resurface. Tie a piece of mason's twine between these two points to mark the line of your trench. Use a sharp shooter, or narrow bladed trenching spade to dig a trench along this string, 24-inches deep.

Lay cable into the trench, leaving enough slack at the house and the terminal end to feed through any conduit through the house wall to make the needed connections. Use UF, or Underground Feeder wire, which is rated be installed without further insulation or conduit.

Bury the trench with back fill from the dirt you removed from the trench, making sure the wire stays on the bottom of the trench. Have an electrician inspect your work and make the connection to the house breaker box and any connections up to the junction box on the opposite end.

Things You Will Need

  • Wood stakes
  • Hammer
  • Mason's twine
  • Trenching spade
  • UF cable
  • Wire cutters

About the Author

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.