Air Spade

The Air Spade is a digging tool which uses air blasted at extremely high speeds (1200mph) through a specially designed nozzle to break up soil without damage to utility pipes or tree roots.

The aggregate nature of soil aids the ability of the air to fracture it; while materials that are not porous like metal and plastic pipes, cables or even tree roots are unaffected.

We are offering a service providing information to developers who are planning to install, roads, drives, paths or footings within the root protection area of trees. This service includes liaising with your council tree officer, arranging for and digging an exploration trench within the RPA and writing a report with photos and descriptions of our findings.

We can also use the Airspade to install pipe/cable runs and ducts within sensitive areas. The Airspade can be used to decompact a tree’s root plate after heavy traffic has caused the tree to become stressed. There are of course endless examples of situations where this tool is extremely useful, in the photos it is being used to excavated stonework built around in the 16th century as part of the cannon industry.


Air breaks soil into small pieces ideal for transport and/or recompaction.
Air, unlike water, is cost free, readily available and doesn’t create mess.
There is no damage to objects hidden in the ground such as tree roots or utility pipes.


The Air Spade will dig through some shale and soils with a very high clay content however it is not able to dig through rock or very heavy clay so excavations are limited by the soil structure.
We have Arboricultural qualifications, we are not experts in British Construction Standards. We can simply make observations and provide information for planners to interpret.