Learn How To Level A Garden With A Mini Digger

Do you have an uneven garden? We know it can be a headache for every homeowner. It can give you a hard time, especially when you want to build a new feature in your garden, like a patio or gazebo, or even use your lawn mower. Don’t worry, though; we are here so you can learn how to level a garden with a mini digger to make your life easier and your garden more appealing!

mini digger levelling soil in a garden

A mini excavator, also known as a mini digger, is a piece of equipment that can be used for either digging or demolition. These excavators are smaller than other types of similar equipment; that’s why they are generally used for small to medium-sized projects. And your garden is the perfect place to use one! These excavators are remarkably versatile, compact, light, and very powerful, able to work anywhere. All you need to do is know how to use them to level your garden in no time. Keep on reading to find out all you need to know!

Why level your garden?

Before we explain the DIY procedure of levelling your garden, it’s essential to understand why you should have a flat garden. A garden with slopes and bumps can be quite an eyesore. Creating a flat garden will help restore the garden’s beauty, promoting its aesthetic appeal. But there are many other benefits of having a levelled garden, that include:

  1. A sloped area isn’t comfortable to sit on and may even cause soil erosion and flooding problems. By levelling slopes, you will have more space to work and relax. By levelling this slope, you will have enough room for relaxing.
  2. It’s a lot easier to maintain your garden when it has no hills or slopes. For example, it’s a bit challenging for lawn mowers to reach steep inclines. On the other hand, it is much easier to carry out the overall mowing process with a levelled ground.
  3. A levelled garden helps grass, plants, and flowers grow faster since they quickly absorb moisture and essential nutrients.
  4. An uneven garden is not ideal for kids to play on as it offers limited spaces and it’s prone to various hazards, like falling. You don’t have to worry about these hazards having a levelled garden, as it helps to eliminate these kinds of risks.
  5. An uneven garden doesn’t have better drainage and can turn into a swamp during heavy rainfall. This can also lead to stagnant water that may become breeding grounds for insects like mosquitoes. And who wants to have to get rid of mosquitoes?

mosquitoes flying in a garden

What makes your garden uneven?

Before you start looking for a remedy, it is essential to understand the source of the problem. So, what causes your garden to have slopes and bumps? The most common reasons include:

  1. Your garden may have a thin top layer of soil that is prone to erosion, especially during the rainy months. This is a problem hard to notice on a dense and thick lawn.
  2. The soil may heave as a result of freezing during the winter months. This is likely to leave some bumps behind, which you can’t see in naked eyes if you are at a distance. You will only notice them when you walk into your garden.
  3. Earthworms’ castings have a vital role in enriching your garden topsoil but can also make your garden have bumps. Therefore, you should seek advice on dealing with these worms without eliminating them from the garden.
  4. Lack of a proper drainage system and water accumulation can cause slopes and bumps in your garden. 
  5. Your pets can cause uneven gardens if they indulge in certain activities during particular seasons. That’s why it is advisable to restrict them from the garden.

german sepherd digging in the gardenStep-by-step guide: How to level your garden with a
mini digger

You don’t need to buy your own digger for levelling your front garden or back garden. You can contact a mini digger hire company and even hire an operator for the task. An approx. idea of how much to hire a digger for a day is £70.00 ex VAT. Some homeowners get the operator since they want their work to be done without any mistakes, but you can also do the job yourself if you want to save money. If you get the operator, the only thing you will need to do is direct the machine and save the hard work. Keep on reading to find out the best methods for preparation and how to level your garden using a mini digger!

Step 1: Plan

Do you want to lay a new lawn, dig foundations for a new retaining wall or maybe create a patio area? Depending on what you want to achieve, you’ll need to mark out where your work will take place. When levelling your lawn, you need to decide whether you need to raise the area or whether it requires levelling down. In most cases, both are necessary. In all cases, you have a choice of 3 measuring methods; a string method, a laser level or the carpenters method. All will give the same results, so it’s up to your personal choice.

  • If you use the string method, you’ll need to take 4 stakes and insert them into the ground in a square to mark out the area you want to level. Then connect these stakes with a string’s line and pull it tight. The next step is to measure any areas that need to be levelled to determine how much you need to do. Take measurements at each square’s side to ensure accuracy. It’s also essential to keep notes to remain consistent throughout your job.
  • Alternatively, if you opt for the carpenters method, take a piece of lumber and lay it along the area you want to work on. Use a spirit level to determine how uneven your ground is. 
  • You can mark where the trench will go using a surveyor’s level or a laser level. The alternative way is using a can of spray paint.

surveyor’s level in a big garden

Step 2: Soften the ground

Does the area have grass on it? Then you may need to remove it to complete the levelling. If you are going to do this, you will benefit from thoroughly watering your area first

If you have time and want to ensure that the area is fully saturated, water the site for a few days. But keep in mind that you should avoid applying too much water to avoid ending up with a muddy mess that will be almost impossible to dig.

Step 3: Remove the grass 

This step is for those that want to remove grass from the area. If you are just beginning a new garden, feel free to skip this step.

You will need a flat shovel when taking out the grass. Remember not to go too deep but deep enough that you remove the grass and its roots. Place your shovel into the ground between 3 and 6 cm. Then slide it under the grass and lift out the soil beneath it. The time that this part of the job will need will depend on your garden’s size, so make sure to put aside enough time.

Step 4: Level the ground

You are now ready to start levelling the ground. The best way to do this is by filling in areas that are lower or bringing down larger hills. To fill in the lower regions, use some nutrient-rich soil, apply it to the ground, and take a rake to even everything out. 

If you’re going to use your digger, here’s how to use it after you’ve pointed out where you want the trench to go, as mentioned in step 1:

  • Stay close to your target but also keep all the safety measures in mind. When you walk the machine to the target, your track marks will be set, keeping you in line.
  • While you are digging, you’ll have to do 2 tasks at one time. You’ll need to keep your upper house square and point hire undercarriage toward where you are targeting. You can do this by lining up the cab’s bottom with the grouser bars. You’ll need to turn 180 degrees most of the time, but you can also view the target properly if you turn 90 degrees.
  • Digging towards the inside of the track is the only task left. The most effective digging is done when it is done in layers, and it is slow. Later, you should remove the top layer of soil, and the rest of the work should be done steadily. Keep in mind that when you are digging back the v-ditch, you need to keep track of the centreline. This line must always be deeper than the slopes.

Workman using a mini digger to excavate a hole for extension footings in a garden lawn

Step 5: Compact the soil

After you are done with the levelling, you’ll need to compact the soil to protect it from natural erosion. Depending on your garden’s size, you may need to use a soil compactor. You can hire one if you don’t have your own or if you have a smaller area, you can use a pair of heavy boots. Just wear them and stamp over the area until the soil is compacted.

Also, you shouldn’t plant anything in the new soil for a few weeks as this will give your area a chance to settle. If there is not a lot of rain, it’s a good idea to water the soil periodically during this time. You can then add fresh grass seed, plants and flowers if you want.

What work is suitable for mini diggers

These diggers are highly suitable pieces of equipment for working in small spaces. They can also be adapted with several different attachments, tracks or wheels for various jobs. Here are some of the jobs you can use them effectively for:

  1. Breaking down the ground and small constructions, like when planning a gazebo site or flower bed.
  2. Digging footings, holes and trenches, like when you’re building a conservatory or patio.
  3. Excavating and digging ponds.
  4. Levelling out and terracing landscapes, small areas or larger ones.
  5. Removing tree stumps from trees that have been cut down.
  6. Repairing sewage lines.
  7. Installing a pool or hot tub.
  8. Ploughing snow in preparation for other work.
  9. Use the mini digger to demolish existing structures like sheds or greenhouses.
  10. Creating fence post holes quickly and nicely for your landscaping projects.
  11. The micro digger has the right size to create drainage ditches or trenches for utility lines.
  12. Filling garden beds. The mini digger can easily move the dirt from a truck to a garden bed. However, it shines when moving the dirt from the truck to a wheelbarrow since it can easily move from one place to another.

two workers digging the ground with the help of a wheelbarrow and a mini excavator

6 benefits of a mini digger

The full-size diggers don’t have as many advantages as mini excavators. Their size is reasonable, so it offers a unique set of benefits. Here is why people should opt for the smaller diggers’ versions:

1. Easily breaking ground

If you plan a new gazebo site or flower bed, a small digger is there for you since it can easily break through the tough grass. You want the grass to be dug well so that you can lay the right foundations.

2. Demolish small existing structures

You can easily get rid of small structures like sheds and greenhouses with the help of a small digger. With its help, you can even demolish metal and concrete.

3. Smaller footprint

A regular size digger will need more space as compared to a mini one. A pickup truck’s back can make a place for the latter because it is simpler to transport. You don’t need to haul the digger to your garden with the use of special equipment.

4. Fuel efficient and quiet

Most smaller machines are quieter and more fuel-efficient than the larger ones. That’s why a mini digger is ideal for residential areas since you won’t hear any complaints from your neighbours.

5. Waste management

Most small diggers not only level your garden but also work as mini dumpers, moving your rubbish and wastes quickly. All you need to do is move the filth to a more accessible part of your lawn so that you can easily remove them. 

6. Less damage

Large machines usually tear up your ground when doing the work. A small digger will only affect a small path and can pass through narrow spaces.

Workman using a mini digger to excavate a hole for water pipes in the garden
Perfectly levelling your garden with a mini digger takes practice since all heavy equipment tasks are hard. This is not a skill that you learn in a classroom, but you can develop it over time. Follow our instructions to get it done easily and with no problems! With observation, practice and patience, you can even become an experienced operator someday! But for now, enjoy your new levelled garden and all the landscaping projects you can work on!

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