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?
(uncovered almost eight feet more of driveway this weekend, only
another 16 or so to go!)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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"
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
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 :(
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
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
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