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Simple Guide to Digging a footing

digging a footing

Digging a Footing

Whether you’re an experienced professional or a home DIYer, Digging a footing is simple with the right information equipment and know-how.

If you are looking to build an extension on your home or build a wall, procedures are needed to do the job correctly and to the regulations.

Digging a footing can be hard work if you haven’t got the correct tools, machinery, and equipment, and it can be a hard laboured task if you’re digging the footing with a shovel and spade, dependent upon the size.

Digging a footing for a garden wall

When digging a footing for a garden wall, you want to get the levels right so the concrete base is strong enough and level to build a garden wall.

Start excavating the soil from the ground making the footing 100mm wider on each side of where the wall will sit.

You can dig the footing 12 inches deep for a garden wall, which should be sufficient for a front garden wall with an 8-inch base. For a dwarf wall or small wall, 6 inches would make a suitable concrete base to build on.

Once you have dug the base, you can find the height that your concrete wants to sit.
Measure from the bottom of your footing to the top of where your concrete needs to be and knock in a footing pin or a wooden stake.

If your footing is 12 inches deep, the stake should measure from the top to the bottom of your footing 12 inches, making sure your footing pegs sit below ground level.

Once you have your first footing pin established, use a spirit level and transfer the level from the first footing pegs to the next, giving you 2 level footing pegs to fill your concrete to carry on till your footing is pegged out ready for concrete.

footing pegged with wooden stakes
Footing Pegged Out with Wooden stakes Level, Ready for Concrete.


Once the footing has been dug and the footing pins put in place, the next step is to concrete the footing.

If you are building an extension or large wall, you would be better getting the concrete supplied, the mix will be more consistent, and you only pay for what you need. On the other hand, if it’s a small garden wall or dwarf wall, you can mix the concrete for the footing yourself.

Mixing concrete for the footing is easy to mix the correct concrete mix combine sand cement water, and aggregate.
To get the correct sand, cement and aggregate ratio, mix 1 part cement to 2 parts sand to 4 parts aggregates.

You can add more cement if need be.

When mixing the concrete, the concrete needs to be mixed to a pliable consistency so that it can be smoothed off to the height of the footing pegs creating a level base for the structure.

concrete footing
Concrete filled to the height of the level footing pegs.

Once the concrete has been poured into the footing, you will have a level footing and base to build a wall on.

Let the concrete cure for at least 48 hours before building on.

Start Building the Wall


Tools for Digging a Footing


A shovel to dig the footing and bottom it out.

shovel for digging a footing


A spade to excavate the footing and penetrate the ground.

spade for digging a footing

Builders Line

Builders line to mark out the footing.

builders line to mark out footing

Tape Measure

Tape measure to measure the width and depth.

tape measure

Footing Pegs/Pins

Footing pins to knock into the footing to give height for concrete.

Lump Hammer

Lump hammer to knock in the footing pegs.

Lump hammer

Spirit Level

Spirit level to transfer the level for the footing pins/pegs.

ox spirit level

Groundworkers Tools and Equiptment

Cement Mixer

Cement mixer to mix the concrete.

belle cement mixer
best groundworkers tools and equipment

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