Sorting gravel from soil?


Hi all,
I've started to clean off my driveway - the previous owners of my house were kind of eco-nuts, and didn't use it. They apparently put down wood chips on the driveway and let them decompose, which makes great topsoil, but there's already 12" or more of good topsoil over the whole property so I don't need any more. I've already given away quite a bit, but there's a lot more left to go until the whole driveway is uncovered.
My problem is this; I think I've already gotten through all the "easy pickins" - the one large pile that remains seems to have a lot of gravel and rock mixed in with it, like at some point there was a gravel mulched flowerbed that got covered over. I'd like to somehow separate the topsoil from the gravel so I could use the gravel and rocks rather than having to give the whole mess away as "fill dirt." I'm envisioning some kind of coarse screening - window screen is too fine - is there something readily available that would let me sift this quickly? Maybe even something that I could rent for a couple of days? What would I ask for?
thanks,
nate
(uncovered almost eight feet more of driveway this weekend, only another 16 or so to go!)
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There a misnamed product called hardware cloth which is not cloth at all, but metal mesh with 1/4" square holes, perfect for sifting soil. Call some real hardware or farm supply stores. You'll have to build a frame out of wood and staple or screw the cloth to it. Your imagination should tell you the details.
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http://www.umaine.edu/sustainability/images/Compos5.jpg
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Bingo! The contestant from somewhere wins 3 cases of virtual beer and 1200 bags of Fritos!
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Thanks guys, that is perfect, I just didn't know what it was called. That'll help quite a bit!
nate
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Duh. It's called a thing, obviously.
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On Mon, 09 Apr 2007 13:51:09 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

My sister calls it a thingy.

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If you build such a screener, you can use 1/4 or 1/2 inch hardware cloth wire depending on how fine you want to screen the dirt. I have used expanded wire (stucco or plaster) lath and found the sharp edges help to clean the material. Don't build a square that you have to shake by hand, build it on a slope and long enough so that a wheelbarrow can fit under it to catch the bulk of the good soil. The screen on a slope, about a 45 degree angle, will allow you to shovel the material onto the top area and allow gravity to pull in down the screen cleaning the material with the gravel dropping off the bottom. If the material is sticky you may need to shovel it back over the screen a few times to get it cleaner.
Shaking a sieve or screen by hand is backbreaking and very slow. Shovelling on a slanted screen is easy especially if a wheelbarrow can catch much of the good soil. You will be able to much more work with less effort.
I have used one for hundreds of wheelbarrow loads cleaning old junk, rocks and roots from good soil for my gardens.

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The back of a straight metal rake works well, too.
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EXT wrote:

The next upgrade to make it easier is to make a hanger frame to suspend it from, sort of like one of the cradle rockers. Then you only provide the energy to shake it back and forth and the frame supports the weight.
Another upgrade from that is to connect your Sawzall to it to provide the shaking action at which point you just have to shovel the materiel into it at a reasonable rate and periodically empty it.
Pete C.
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Useful for a lot of things. Bottoms of rabbit cages (holes could be a bit larger for that purpose),
Screening cat litter - I cut the bottom out of a half-height plastic bucket and inserted a circle of hardware cloth. Set over empty bucket and pour the litter through it. Of course you throw the lumps away :)
Screen for my downspout drain. Another circle in the "funnel" leading to the underground drain line. Just pick it up once/year and dump all the leaves/trash rather than having them go down the drain to eventually plug it up.
Harry K
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Archaeologists and crime scene investigators hang them with chains from frames then rock them to sift evidence and artifacts from dirt.
Steve
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I've done something similar to get the dirt out of a lot of 3/8 inch marble chips.
Made the box myself, it's not hard.
My advice, throw the stuff out, it's not worth the effort.
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wrote:

There's too much to throw out, is the problem! The girlie advertised "free topsoil" on Craigslist and the response was incredible, but I still have several truckloads already hand-sorted stacked up beside/ behind the garage, and still more driveway to clean off. The previous owner was a composting machine, apparently. It'd take several months, two trash cans a week, to even make a noticeable dent in this stuff.
The good thing is, I'm apparently making several gardening enthusiasts very happy, as everyone who's come by to take some has raved about how dark and rich the stuff is.
nate
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You can rent a machine like a bobcat skidsteer. A special attachment called a landplane can also be rented for your problem. The attachment has holes in it allowing you to sift material. You fill the attachment with material and then bump it up and down to sift. Other attachment can do the same job.
Any Bobcat dealer will rent you these things and will deliver them as well as pick them up. A skidsteer is simple to operate if you don't know how then you can learn. They don't care how much experience you have just how much money. links:
http://www.bobcat.com/loaders/product_lines
http://www.bobcat.com/attachments/landplane
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Get a hod trough. A shallow trough, or even a wading pool. Float the crud and the rocks sink. Shovel off each.
A little messy, but works like a charm. Run a hose in there to flow lots of gook out of it. All the stuff that goes to the bottom can be run through hardware cloth stretched over a 2 x 4 frame to get out the little rocks. You will use the hardware cloth frame for many other things over time, too. As the last step, when you run the rock over the hardware cloth, spray the rock, and you got nice clean rocks.
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wrote:

use two or more layers of 1/4" screen(offset) if you need a finer screening. Staple them to a 2x4 box frame,sit that atop a trash can or 55 gal drum,or make legs for it.
"chicken wire" has huge holes,about an inch in diameter. it would let rocks thru.
--
Jim Yanik
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Jim Yanik wrote:

I just used 1/2" - I figure for free, the end user can screen out the small stuff if they really want to. I don't think it hurts anything anyway, as it's a small fraction of the soil I have that's "infested" with gravel.
nate
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N8N wrote:

Well, thanks for the advice guys, I stopped by my friendly local hardware store on my way home from work and got some 1/2" hardware cloth and some "seconds" 2x4s, knocked together a little frame, worked like a charm. Good thing I did too because a guy showed up with a full sized pickup and loaded it to the rails. Actually made a dent in my little topsoil collection! Only have about 10 feet on one side of the driveway to finish, but now I have a big pile of rocks and gravel sitting in the middle of the drive :(
nate
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N8N wrote:

This thread is starting to look like "challenge of the century". Try putting a shovel-full at a time into a bucket, shake it a bit so's the stone (hopefully) goes to the bottom. Lift out the mulch, the stone should separate.
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