Lighting around your home or yard can look great, add property value, be useful and be a security measure. If you intend to put in your own landscape lighting, choose low-voltage wiring and lights. In most locations, you don’t need an electrician to install it. Low-voltage wires can be buried easier and not as deep as high-voltage wires. In some spaces, low-voltage wires can be left above ground safely. In general, where you need or want to bury lighting wires, how deep do landscape lighting wires need to be?
How Deep Should They Go?
Exactly how deep should you bury wires for landscape lighting on your property? Even if you could let wires, cables and cords run all over your yard, sidewalk, porch or patio, it won’t be safe or nice at all.
A working rule of thumb is six inches. You should dig about six inches into dirt or mulch and bury wires and lines as best as possible.
You can dig a deep but narrow trench with a sharp spade. This lets you dig a narrow space, just enough for wires and components, then fill it in easily. You won’t create a major mess or replanting job in your yard. A six-inch deep hole is safe. It will keep the wiring from being uncovered or damaged. Digging deeper will just mean more work and unneeded mess in your yard or around your house. It is important to cover the trench with soil as it was before you dug it. You may add even more dirt and grass seed to reinforce and eventually hold the soil and turf.
Some states, counties or municipalities have restrictions and regulations about digging, so it’s up to you to check with local authorities. It is highly advised to call 811. 811 is the national “Call Before you Dig Hotline.” You must call 811 and follow the instructions and markings. You can be liable for damage if you do not. A municipal or utility representative will come to your home and mark any existing lines you must know about and avoid while digging.
If, for commercial usages, 120 voltage electric wires are used, the codes are strict and must be followed to pass inspections. A depth of 18-24 inches is usually needed for this use. This can be achieved by commercial-grade trenching equipment.
Will Wet Ground Damage Wiring?
If you use the correct rated wiring, rated to work in wet conditions, it will be fine. The layers of thermoplastic sheathing and safety cabling protect this wiring against water.
If there has been enough rainfall or flooding that buried wires become exposed, it’s recommended to get the wiring and your lighting inspected by an electrician after the bad weather is over. Flood water or other severe weather could bring pollutants or contaminants onto the wiring or parts.
If you used dry rated wires, such as NM-B, buried with conduits, it may need to be replaced in case of rain. They are not rated for wet conditions. This can result in damaged wiring and a safety hazard. Actually, running power lines underground stops them from damage from excessive rainfall and floods.
How to Bury Landscape Lighting Wires
- Contact your local utility or municipality department, and have them mark where any underground pipes, cables or lines are. This will make sure you don’t mistakenly damage neighborhood water, sewage system and electrical lines. This is a requirement by law in many states, counties and towns.
- Install the light fixtures, components and transformers. Lay the wiring out above ground. Make sure it reaches all the points you need it to. If possible, you want to run the lines along fence lines, in bushes or other areas where it can be easily buried and hidden.
- Connect all of the lighting. Turn it on before you bury the wiring. It’s easy to move and adjust lights now. It will be hard once you’ve buried everything.
- Use cable ties to tie wires together. Keep them organized and easier to bury together in one shot. Make sure to follow safety instructions about using ties.
- Place the wires, hopefully grouped and tied into bundles, in conduit or PVC pipe. This is protection for the wires and cables.
- Bury wires that are going across open yard areas first. With a square shovel or angled spade, raise the sod at a 45 degree angle to make a trench. You could use a mechanized lawn edger to create a trench if you choose. Put the wires down 6-12 inches under the surface to ensure you will not disturb them when you are trimming or doing other yardwork. Bury the cords in the trench, backfill with the dirt you removed, and the turf as best as possible, tamping it down with your foot to replace it.
- Next, bury the wires which can go through flower beds, in mulch or along areas that don’t need the same work as grass or yard areas. The wires here don’t need to go as deep. You shouldn’t need to mow over them. Burying wires under about four inches of mulch is good. You want to know or be able to find these wires easily should you work in the bed or garden, such as digging for planting new plants.
- Run the wires underground as far as possible coming up to the lights. You can run wires up trees, stapling them to the trunks or other structures you’re using, to reach overhead or suspended lights.
When is it a Good Time to Call an Electrician? Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.