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What are some minor leveling methods for urban derelict land



For very small areas, such as vegetable garden beds, a hand cultivator, a board, and a carpenter's level is all that is needed. Soften the surface with the cultivator, run the edge of the board over it to flatten the contours in two perpendicular dierections, check with the level, repeat if necessary.
For mid-size areas, around 5,000 sq. ft., a short stepladder, a bucket, a spool of clear plastic tubing, a number of 6 ft stakes, and some colored water are useful. Drive the stakes in in a rough grid pattern, set the ladder (or a table) in their midst, set the bucket on the ladder, fill it with the colored water--keeping extra handy, just in case--unroll the tubing and submerge one end near the bottom of the bucket, and tape it in place, siphon enough water into the tubing to fill it, and hold up the free end, so the water won't pour out. The level of water at the end of the tubing is now the same level as the height of the water surface in the bucket. Go from stake to stake, marking the water level on each, and you now have a guide to leveling the soil surface below, using shovels, wheelbarrows, and landscape rakes. Note that you may have to build retaining walls at the edges to safely complete the job.
Hope that this helps, Terry! :)

2 Jul, 2020


Wow, isn't that ingenious!!

3 Jul, 2020


I saw it on a PBS show years ago, where they were using it to make small terraces to slow runoff to produce a woodlot for an African village.

4 Jul, 2020

How do I say thanks?

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