Allow exposed clods to dry partially in the air on the soil surface. Using a spade fork, break apart the dry clumps into smaller pieces and moisten them with hose water. Allow the clumps to dry a second time before raking them uniformly throughout the soil area where you are working. This will help ensure that the soil is well-drained and ready for planting.
The type of soil you have influences what kind of tools you will need to break up the clods. For example, if your soil is heavy clay or hardpan, a rototiller is the best tool for breaking up large clods. Otherwise, hand tools such as a shovel, pitchfork, or axe can be used instead.
Soil testing companies may also use thermal imaging cameras to detect areas of the yard that need work. They will then suggest treatments to improve drainage or add organic matter to raise soil pH. These services are usually affordable and can help your yard be more productive even without adding any money out of pocket.
Finally, keep in mind that broken up soil is better than compacted soil. Compacted soil cannot absorb water and nutrients as easily, which can cause plants to suffer from lack of oxygen and moisture. This can lead to dead spots in your garden where plants die prematurely. Breaking up clods helps get rid of this problem immediately by improving drainage and allowing more light to reach the soil's surface.
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Rake the ground to make it even more level. Spread the soil uniformly throughout the plot by moving the rake forward and backwards over the ground. Break apart any remaining clumps using the rake's teeth. Level areas that are particularly uneven with the back of the rake. This will help water drain and reach all parts of the garden.
Muddy soil is difficult to plant in because seeds can't germinate properly until they become root-free, which can take a long time if the soil is too heavy or compacted. If possible, try to get your garden on a solid base of dirt instead of grass or mud. That way you won't have as many problems with poor drainage and soil compaction.
If you need to get into some shallow trenches or holes for planting, fill them first with some of the same material you used to level the rest of the garden. That will give your plants a better start and help them grow faster once they come out of the ground.
Leveling your yard may not look like much of a job, but it requires careful attention to detail and a steady hand. The more you use this tool, the easier it will be to level other areas.
Spread 3 inches of new topsoil on top of the old dirt and till it in. Spread 3 inches more dirt and rake it into a level surface, sloping away from the house. Place a 4-foot carpenter's level perpendicular to the house on the ground, with one end butting up against the foundation. Draw several dozen 2-foot sticks, about 18 inches long, across the yard. The sticks should be evenly spaced apart from one another and at least 3 feet away from the house. Use the carpenter's level to make sure the stick you're working with is horizontal. If it's not, pull it out and try again. When you've got a stack of sticks, mark where the top one ends by taping a piece of paper to each stick. You'll need these marks when you build a fire under the house to burn off the soil vapor retarder.
Now get some friends or family members to help you lift the house onto the trailer. If the house is too heavy for you to move alone, ask someone to stand behind you as you push down on the house with your shoulders. This will allow you to keep your arms straight while pushing up with your legs. Or you can hire someone to help you move the house.
Once the house is on the trailer, go ahead and burn off the soil vapor retarder. It's safe to walk on after it has burned.