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By Amy Pearson September 16, 2022

Earthworks is often considered a very heavy-duty affair that requires the use of gigantic machines and a lot of complex planning.  

The processes involved in earthworks are fairly in-depth and can become surprisingly complicated, however, the most common aspect of the process is that of excavation and there are essentially five subcategories of this that you might require.  
For many people who find that they require excavation work performed, the assumption tends to be that it is all the same; and whereas gardeners might be generally familiar with these categories, a little bit of understanding about the types of excavation available will make the process of hiring a rural earthworks company a bit easier as you will both be speaking the same language.


Starting from the top, literally, means that we should begin by considering topsoil excavation.  Topsoil is generally considered to be upto the first 20cm or so of the earth, this will vary depending on the specific composition of the ground you are working on, but it is characterised by being what many of us would consider to be soil.  Its removal is normally fairly straightforward as it tends to be loose and not highly compacted.


The earth is the layer beneath the topsoil and is usually significantly more compacted, especially in comparison to the layer above.  This layer can reach considerable depths and be pretty challenging to excavate as its composition can vary quite drastically.  

More heavy duty equipment will almost certainly be required to dig to any real depth through this layer but often only the more large scale projects, such as building foundations or underground structures, will need to do so.


Removing rock is one of the most tricky forms of excavation given how solid the material is.  The tools and equipment required to break the rock apart and remove it are some of the most powerful that get used during excavation processes.  

Depending on the type of rock that is involved, the task can become even more complex as breaking down rock safely, as well as knowing what is beneath it, can be very technical and time-consuming.

General muck

This category will undoubtedly have various different names depending on who you talk to, but the idea is the same.  Muck refers to excess water, waterlogged soil and soil that is unsuitable for any proper use.  This kind of removal is usually fairly straightforward apart from times when it is necessary to apply drainage to prevent the problem from recurring.


Many companies, will have their own rules on how they classify jobs that involve a mixture of the above categories.  

This is usually because of the rules surrounding the disposal of excavated materials, especially seeing as the general aim is to recycle as much of it as possible.  

As such, if there are extra disposal expenses involved or an increased demand for various different materials, then the cost can vary.  

There is also the added complication of having to ensure that the excavated materials are separated appropriately if so required, but these kinds of complications are the exact reasons that you would hire the professionals in the first place.

Amy Pearson