Skip to Content

As Temperatures Warm Up, Remember to Dig Safely this Spring by Contacting Virginia811 Before you Dig!

People at a cookout

Roanoke, Virginia – With the warmer temperatures, many people have the urge to begin to plant.  But, before you dig a hole, there are some things that you should be aware of.   For starters, Virginia state law requires anyone digging in the state to contact Virginia811 prior to digging.

In observance of National Safe Digging Month in April, Virginia811 today announced results from a recent national survey. The results revealed that a third of U.S. homeowners (33%) reported experiencing a utility service interruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, of the 19.5 million U.S. homeowners who plan to dig this year for projects like gardening, building a fence or deck, installing a mailbox and more, nearly two in five (37%) will put themselves and their communities at risk by digging without contacting 811 beforehand to learn the approximate location of underground utilities.

Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in serious injuries, inconvenient service disruptions, and costly repairs when gas, electric, communications, water and sewer lines are damaged. Contacting Virginia811 before digging by simply filling out a dig request at will help homeowners maintain essential utility service for themselves and neighbors and keep communities safe, by reducing the likelihood of accidentally digging into buried utility lines.

“The survey results are a good reminder of the important role we all play in protecting underground utilities as we launch our home projects involving digging,” says said Scott Crawford, CEO & President of Virginia811.  “There is no question that access to essential utility services is important to communities across the country. Given the current environment, disruptions to internet and phone services are particularly problematic, especially with so many people relying on these services more than ever to complete work, school and so much more,” he added.

The survey also showed that millions of homeowners are using their extra time at home to complete projects that require digging, so it’s of the utmost importance that homeowners contact Virginia811 before they dig. 

The national public opinion survey of homeowners conducted in late February by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, also revealed that one in five American homeowners (20%) have been more likely to do a DIY home improvement involving digging since the pandemic began – particularly gardening projects: 56% of homeowners who are planning to plant a tree or shrub this year said they were more likely to dig during the pandemic. The most popular planned projects cited among surveyed homeowners who plan to dig include:

  • Planting a tree or shrub: 62%
  • Building a fence: 37%
  • Building a deck or patio: 32%
  • Installing a mailbox: 20%
  • Installing a pool: 6%
  • Something else: 26%

Mid-March to May is typically the perfect time to plant trees.  Because of that it is very fitting that April is National Safe Digging Month.  So, before you dig, keep these tips in mind:

  • Contact Virginia811 before you dig. Always notify by calling 811 or if you’re digging at one address, use the online dig request here prior to starting your project to have the dig site marked.
  • Allow the required time for markings. Locators will come out and mark your property to indicate where your underground utilities are located. Wait at least 3 working days before you begin digging.
  • Respect the marks. Respect any marks made by utility companies. Also, mark your dig site with white flags or paint.  Before digging, be sure to confirm utility response by comparing the marks at the dig site and make sure everything has been cleared by your utility companies.
  • Excavate with care. Marks made near the dig site indicate the approximate location of the underground facilities. Because of that, it is best to carefully hand dig within two feet of those marks.

For further information, or to schedule a demo or virtual or in-person interview, please contact Natalie Soucie at [email protected]

About VA811

Virginia Utility Protection Service, commonly called Virginia811​ is the not-for-profit organization created by Virginia’s utilities to protect their underground facilities. Find more information and safe digging practices at


  • Posted in
Back to top