When you go camping, one of the most important things to do is make sure your tent is set up properly. If it’s not, you could end up with a wet and uncomfortable night’s sleep.
One way to help ensure your tent stays dry and keep away mud during heavy rains is to dig a trench around it. The trench will effectively prevent puddle formation around and under your tent by draining water away. Besides, it makes your tent more stable under windy conditions.
Now, if you’re thinking that digging a trench sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry. It’s actually not that difficult.
Read ahead to find our step-by-step guide on how to dig a trench around a tent to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
How To Choose The Perfect Location
Before setting up your tent, choosing the perfect location is essential to make the best out of the trench. When you’re looking for a spot, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, you’ll want to make sure the ground is level. This will help to prevent water from pooling around your tent.
Second, you’ll want to find a spot sheltered from the wind. This will help keep your tent from being blown away or collapsing in strong wind gusts.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure the area is clear of any potential hazards like branches or rocks that could puncture your tent. Also, if you have an older-style tent without a floor, you can dig a ditch around it to direct rainwater away.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot, it’s time to start the digging.
How To Dig Trench Around A Tent
Here’s your step-by-step guide to digging a trench around your tent-
Step 1: Mark The Desired Area
The first step is to mark out the area you’ll be digging. You can do this by driving stakes into the ground at the four corners of your tent.
Then, use a string or twine to connect the stakes and create a square or rectangle. This will be the area that you’ll be digging.
Step 2: Get Your Tools Together
The first thing you’ll need to do is get your tools together. You will need a spade, a rake, and a trowel. Other tools that you may find helpful include:
- A hand tamper (for compacting soil)
- A garden hose (to keep your work area damp)
- A level (to make sure the bottom of your trench is flat and level)
- Measuring tape or ruler (to measure distances)
These things will come in handy for digging your trench around the tent legs.
Step 3: Prepare The Area
Now that you have your tools, it’s time to start preparing the area for digging. First, use your rake to clear away any stones or roots in the way.
You’ll also want to remove any grass or other vegetation from the area. Besides, you must make sure the ground is even before digging your trench.
Step 4: Measure How Far You Need To Dig
Before you start digging, it’s essential to measure how deep and wide your trench will need to be. For most tents, a trench about 6 inches deep and 12 inches wide should be sufficient.
However, it’s always good to check your tent’s length and width and adjust the measurement accordingly.
Step 5: Use The Spade To Loosen The Dirt
Once you’ve measured the area, it’s time to start digging. To do this, use the spade to loosen the dirt in the desired location.
You’ll want to make sure that the hole is big enough for you to fit into comfortably.
Step 6: Start Digging Your Trench
Now that the area is loosened up, it’s time to start digging your trench. Start by placing the spade at one end of the rectangle and push it into the ground.
Then, using both hands, pull the spade towards you to remove a shovelful of dirt. Repeat this process until you’ve reached the other end of the rectangle.
Step 7: Dig Shallow Trenches Around The Perimeter Of Your Tent
After you’ve finished digging the main trench, you’ll need to dig a few shallow trenches around the perimeter of your tent.
To do this, simply place the spade at the edge of the rectangle and dig a trench about 6 inches deep and 3 inches wide.
Step 8: Clear Out The Trench, Leaving It About Six Inches Deep
You’ll want to make sure that the surface of your tent is level so that you can comfortably sleep on it.
You also want to account for any rain or snow, which may make your trench deeper than usual. This means digging out a trench about six inches deep and three feet wide to ensure water doesn’t pool under your tent.
If you are using a heavy-duty tarp as an outer layer for your tent, you might consider leaving it slightly higher than the ground level beneath it (about one inch) so that water has somewhere else to go besides the middle of your tent base.
You should also keep in mind how deep the ground gets near any trees or rocks—this will help prevent injuries while digging out trenches around these items later on down the road.
Step 9: Remove Any Rocks Or Roots
Remove any rocks or roots from inside your trench. If there are large stones in the ground, remove them first. If roots extend down into the ground, cut them off as high as possible (at least 1 foot above the surface).
Fill in any gaps with dirt. You may need to move some of these rocks to one side and cover them with dirt before backfilling your trench with soil.
Step 10: Add Water And Compact The Soil
Once you’ve removed all of the rocks and roots, it’s time to add water to the trench. This will help to compact the soil and give your tent a firm foundation.
Use a garden hose to fill the trench with water slowly. Once the trench is full, use your feet to compact the soil.
Step 11: Backfill The Trench With Soil And Tamp It Down
Once the soil is compacted, you can begin backfilling the trench with dirt. Use a shovel to fill in the sides of the trench first and then the middle. Once the trench is filled, use your tamper or feet to tamp down the soil.
Step 12: Give The Area A Final Check
Now that you’ve finished digging your trench, it’s time to pitch your tent. Make sure that the area is level and free of any debris.
If everything looks good, drive your stakes into the ground and start setting up your tent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we have answered some frequently asked questions about digging a trench around a tent.
Is It Necessary To Dig A Trench Around My Tent?
It is not necessary to dig a trench around your tent, but doing so can help to keep water from pooling under your tent and cause the ground beneath it to become muddy.
Additionally, trenches can help to keep your tent more stable in windy conditions.
Can I Use A Tarp Instead Of Digging A Trench?
You can use a tarp to help keep the bottom of your tent dry, but it will not protect your tent from wind or other weather conditions.
If you are worried about these things, you should consider pitching your tent in a sheltered area or using guy lines to secure it to the ground.
Can I Use A Tent Footprint Instead Of Digging A Trench?
A tent footprint can help protect the bottom of your tent from abrasion and moisture, but it will not keep water from pooling under your tent or prevent your tent from blowing away in strong winds.
How Deep Should My Trench Be?
The depth of your trench will depend on the size of your tent and the ground conditions at your campsite. For most tents, a 3-6 inches deep trench should be sufficient.
However, if you are camping in an area with a lot of rain or snow, you may need to make your trench deeper.
What Are Some Other Ways To Keep My Tent Dry?
In addition to digging a trench around your tent, you can also use a groundsheet or tarp to help keep the bottom of your tent dry.
You can also raise your tent off the ground by using rocks or logs to create a foundation.
So there it is—your ultimate step-by-step guide on how to dig a trench around a tent. It’s not particularly difficult, but it can be tedious, so you might want to enlist the help of a friend when you start.
This method works best if you have a level, firm foundation on which to set your tent.
However, if you like to camp in areas of uneven ground, be sure to leave enough space between the tent and the trench so that rainwater won’t have any trouble soaking into the ground.