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How to Dig a Well

People have been digging wells since prehistoric times. If you're hoping to add a well to your backyard by doing it yourself, there are several ways -- both ancient and modern -- to make sure you never go thirsty.


  • Step 1: Dig a hole Dig a hole in the ground using a pick and shovel. Use a bucket to remove the soil.
  • Step 2: Dig until you reach the water table Continue digging until you reach the water table. Water will then start filling the bottom of the hole.
  • Step 3: Line the hole with stones Line the hole with stones to prevent the sides of the well from collapsing.
  • Step 4: Drive a well Try driving a small diameter pipe -- fitted with a filtering screen at its base -- into the ground as a less labor-intensive alternative to hand digging.
  • TIP: Driven wells -- like hand-dug ones -- can only reach shallow water. And both require soft soil.
  • Step 5: Hire a rig Hire a truck-mounted drill rig if you want to reach water below the water table. Drill rigs can drill more than a thousand feet into the ground, and a pump can then be installed to bring water to the surface. Now you've got your own source of water, without depending on city pipes.
  • FACT: In 230 BCE, Eratosthenes measured the first radius of the earth on the summer solstice by knowing that the sun shone directly over a well in Syene, Egypt.

You Will Need

  • Pick
  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Stones
  • Pipe fitted with screen
  • Driver
  • Drill rig
  • Pump
  • Soft soil (optional)

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