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Making dirt softer for shoveling?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by aerodynamic, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. So ive agreed to help my neighbour out concreting his backyard so he can park his boat without going on bumps and lumps of dirt,

    he wants to dig out about 5m 6" deep,..im just wondering if anyone knows how i can make the dirt softer so its easy to dig out, or if anyone has done any similar jobs and come to some sort of conclusion of what the easiest way of going about it is?

  2. 5m long x what width? 3m or so for a car/boat? That's a good 3 cubic meters of dirt, which is a pretty big job to do by hand. A 6x4 flat trailer holds about 1/2 a cubic meter, so how is your neighbour planning to remove this dirt? Hiring a bobcat and a skip for one day would see it done quick.

    A mattock sounds like what you'd need to break the ground up if you're planning to do it by hand. You could also use a rotary hammer drill with a really wide spade bit if the ground is really hard and that'd soften the dirt up pretty quick.

    Is he planning on mixing the concrete up by hand? Going to re-inforce it (which I'd recommend). Get some stand-offs to hold the steel mesh about 5cm above the ground level while the concrete is poured over it.

    For 3 cubic meters of concrete, and assuming there's decent access to the property, probably better to just order in a concrete truck and do a quick pour rather than trying to mix that lot up by hand. Easy to trowel it level in one go then too without trying to level it in bits while mixing up by hand.
  3. Hope your back is strong.
  4. A mini bobcat or even a little dingo loader [ with rippers to break up the soil, they dont have to power to dig on there own ]
    They should only will only set you back about $300 inc fuel, and you'll have it done in a few hrs :)
  5. The easiest way is to use explosives :grin:.
  6. +1 on the mini digger. Took a two day digging job and finished it in four hours (including an hour due to accidentally bogging it.)
    The only caveat is that it requires careful control to maintain a level surface (but the same can be said about shovelling)
  7. thanks for the replies guys, there is plenty of access to get the concrete in, a gap that is probably a 4x4 width + half, sealed off by 2 gates that open inwards and away...

    There is 3 of us digging, im guessing we will be using "Mattocks" as above, aswell as some longer crobars we have,

    Mini-digger would be sooo good, but we don't really have the money or anyway to get it to the property...
  8. shouldn't be more then a days with 3 of you.......have dug a few holes by hand, dug out a few stumps large stumps too, they aren't as much fun......most people think i am crazy, but that 300 is better in my pocket then someone elses, that is if you don't mind the hard work and time to do it
  9. pick/mattock and a few shovels should do the trick.

    no need to waste money on large equipment unless you can't do physical work.
  10. we've tuffed up all the dirt and got rid of all the grass in 2 hours,(theres only 2 of us now). Just using the mattock to smash it all up, then some tiny shovel thing to get rid of the grass, we're doing another hour today of getting away the grass, then start to dig it out tomorrow.

    Hopefully we can do about 3-4 hours tommorow and get it pretty deep, then we can start getting it right for the cement.

    Bad thing is....the blisters are starting to get to my hands...im not a person that does much of this haha.

    I put my riding gloves on, they helped a bit...anyone have tips to help with blister pain?
  11. try not to think about it :LOL:
  12. Wear gloves, seriously. It'll save your hands. This is coming from someone who has just shovelled 2 tonnes of dirt by himself in the last two days.
  13. yeah the only gloves i have are my riding ones, will dirt break down any of the insides of them? or can i wash them and they'll be fine?
  14. Gardening gloves at Bunnings ... about $7 for a good quality padded set.
  15. You've been going through all your posts again? :p :LOL: :p

    Sorry, a bit OT. But thanks for the info on a mattock :)
  16. I said dirt, not effluent. :grin:
  17. :LOL:
  18. if u had a few days to spare before digging, neat little trick is to flood the digging area with water bout 5 days before, let the water sink deep into the soil, do this every day till the day before u dig, then digging day your shovel will feel like its going through butter..
  19. Pee on them. :shock:

    It works, it's antiseptic and toughens up the skin nicely.

    Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards though. :twisted:
  20. You could use vinegar or lemon juice instead. It seems to be the acid content that does the job.