What Kind of Trencher Do You Need?

Things to consider when determining if you need a walk-behind or ride-on trencher for your irrigation crew.

Ditch Witch C CX Series Walk Behind Trenchers 56bb61fb356dd

When it comes to installing irrigation systems, contractors have a lot of choices with respect to trenching equipment. Here we'll examine whether you could get by with a less expensive, more portable walk-behind trencher, or if you need to go bigger with a ride-on unit.

Trench length and overall job size. While power is always a consideration, comfort is what counts. For trenches shorter than 100 feet, operator time spent standing and operating controls will be minimal. A walk-behind trencher can be very productive in these conditions, especially on smaller projects that call for a more compact machine to maneuver around tight jobsites. For smaller jobsites, a walk-behind trencher is also more cost-effective. The new Ditch Witch C- and CX-Series walk-behind trenchers simplify routine maintenance with easy access to the machine’s components and no daily grease points, a Ditch Witch exclusive.

When a job calls for a larger trench of more than 100 feet, a ride-on trencher is recommended. Landscapers will find the ride-on trencher ideal on larger jobs because it offers increased comfort and improved production over a walk-behind trencher. A comfortable operator’s station with user-friendly controls takes less effort to use, and allows the operator to work until the job is done. Therefore, choosing a ride-on trencher is ideal for long/big projects since it helps operators stay productive throughout the day.

Landscaping obstacles. Even though a larger irrigation job usually has a larger jobsite, physical constraints are another important consideration. An open yard without many fences or a pool to navigate makes the ride-on trencher more efficient since it can be used consistently. But when an operator needs to move around obstacles, the maneuverability of a more compact walk-behind trencher design will enhance performance.

Ground conditions are also a factor when selecting between walk-behind or ride-on trenchers. In addition to the length of the trench, harder ground conditions or heavy tree roots encourage a landscaper to use the more productive ride-on trencher. With the added weight and a larger engine, the ride-on trencher is typically more productive when digging through tougher ground conditions than a walk-behind trencher.

Insights from Andrew Schuermann, product manager - trenchers, Ditch Witch

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