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Getting the base level

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by environment, Aug 25, 2004.

  1. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Posts: 146

    I keep screwing up, I have a Plate Compactor, I have a Tamper, I have a few levels, but I just cant get it right, any tricks of the trade from the experienced.
  2. HayBay

    HayBay LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 846

    you have not mentioned what you are trying to level up.

    If its a patio would it be best to angle the base away from the house for rain drainage.

    my trick for leveling is as follows:

    Depending on the size of base.

    Get 2- 1" pieces of galvanized conduit say 14 feet long.
    Lay conduit down on ends of base at the approximate level you
    want to end up with.

    Drag a 2x4 piece of wood or something similar along the 2 pieces of conduit. Backfill low spots, and the 2x4 will level out the high spots.
  3. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    use string and 18" 1/2" metal stakes. use LOTS of them if you don't have a lazer transit. make "X"s between stakes and fill in the low spots then tamp it.
  4. NNJLandman

    NNJLandman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,306

    Transit, costly but in the long run will help you out big time, makes leveling go faster n easier.

  5. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Posts: 146

    thanks guys, maybe its time to invest in that transit
  6. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    A decent "dumpy level" starts at about $300 with a tripod and a rod (measuring stick). A dumpy level is often called a construction level or mis named a "transit". But a transit turns horizontal and vertical angles while a dumpy level looks across a horizontal plane. You will need two people to use it.
  7. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073

    Best investment for a starter......


    Think they are around $300, can probably get a rod and tripod to go with it and still be close to $400.

    Don't even mess with a regular transit these days......technology is way beyond that and has made lasers just about the same price.

    When you grow out of it,,,,throw it out and invest 1k or so in a decent laser that will last you a few more years.....or until one of your guys knocks it over with a machine!

    One note though....you still need the basic understandings....for walks and small patios, a laser should not be needed. Larger, more complex projects with varying elevations, steps, walls, etc is where they become invaluable.

    Key is to just take your time, set up the string lines, and keep checking. Over time, you will develop a eye for level, but starting out takes patience.
  8. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    Steve is correct.

    Don't even both with a transit. We use a Topcon self-leveling laser. A laser can be used by one person a transit is two or more.
    A major portion of our business is preparing subbase for concrete companies. This is how we do it.

    1. establish perimeter of pad, establish amount of fall or drainage usually 1" in 10'. using laser mark stake indicating fall mark on stake, layout one string line on one side of pad. excavate excess material. We typically use 4" of 3/4 crushed roadbase as our subbase. lay in gravel, wet gravel (5 to 7% is optimal for material we use). Lay out stakes on perimeter of pad as needed. If the pad is to be 4" concrete we bring the subbase to 3.5" then compact with plate or vibratory roller depending on size of pad. We then run string lines across pad (to the stakes you pounded earlier) checking for correct depth. We have found that we get about .5 to 1" of compaction so we are usually close at initially setting it at 3.5 ". If you take your time and are anal about accuracy you'll never be off. A laser is a necessity.

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