Maya asked in Home & GardenGarden & Landscape · 2 months ago

Would it be possible to level a sloping yard with a shovel(no heavy machinery)?

The idea is, and this is not the best example- level the yard starting from one point like you would level the top of a cake. 

Let me give a few more details that might be important, I'm buying a house that I love but the lot it sits on is pretty badly sloped. I only want to level a small portion of the yard, just to give me a little area to let my dogs play and maybe set up a nice outdoor area at some point. The slope starts at the front of the lot facing the road, and my idea was to start at a lower point and dig forward, then build a retaining wall at the front of the lot where the leveling stops to prevent flooding and maybe use the displaced dirt to build up a bit more of the slope. Of course it wouldn't be right up against the road, but a bit farther back in my lot.

Honestly I have no experience with this kind of thing, and I know using a shovel to do all this would be hard, but I'm willing to put in the work. So, considering I first contact my utility providers to make sure there are no lines I would be hitting and make sure to pack down the soil to prevent settling, is there any reason this wouldn't work?


Thank you all for your answers! I appreciate the help!

5 Answers

  • 2 months ago
    Favourite answer

    My previous house was built on a slope. To provide some level ground for my wife to have a garden I hand dug and leveled an area about 35 foot by 35 foot. I took my time and did not try to do it all at the same time. It really isn't difficult if you take in small bites. You will need to have a place to put the soil you dig out and probably a retaining wall on one end or maybe two ends of the leveled area. If you put a wall on the down slope portion of the area you can put the soil you dig out in there to bring that portion up and not have to move any of the soil any great distance. 

  • 2 months ago

    There are earthen dams in China that were built entirely with shovels and wheel barrows. With enough work and time, your idea *may* work.  One unknown is how deep the soil is that you need to move.  If it's a thin layer of soil over hard pan or bedrock, you may be getting into more than you bargained for.

    Here's another idea. Stick a sign on your lawn, or advertise, for "clean fill wanted". Speak with your town highway crew.  I know that in our town, they are always cleaning out ditches and looking for nearby places to dump the mud and gravel. There may be sticks and branches mixed in, but I think it would be easier to level a pile of debris than to dig it, lug it around, and build a retaining wall.

  • k w
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    maybe, but it would be quite labor intensive

  • y
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    It is possible to move tons/yards of material by hand in the manner you are describing. I have moved 100's of yards of material with a shovel and a wheel barrel.  They only concern I have with your project is the slope, how big it actually is and will you need retaining walls and such. There is a point when it becomes dangerous to install them properly, by yourself.

  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 2 months ago

    They built the Pyramids in Egypt thousands of years ago with no power tools.  Certainly a yard can be leveled by moving some dirt with a shovel.  The question really is do you want to spend the time and labor to do it that way or hire some machinery and get it done quickly and easily. You admit you have no experience.  I'll tell you up front there's a lot more work involved then you are thinking there is.  Odds are, now I don't know you so I'm generalizing, that you will get tired part way through and bring in equipment anyway.

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.