I recently bought a farmette with an old barn that was pretty much used as a run-in shed for 2 horses. Among other upgrades, I finally got around to making it into the stalls, digging up the old poop/hay, etc. I went to level the dirt floors to place gravel and mats on top....
turns out they're practically concrete. They are extremely uneven; I'm talking maybe a foot difference from one corner to another, just dug up over the years from no maintenance. I live in the south; the soil around my property is very sandy, but the dirt in the stalls just looks like dirt that has been pounded down over the years.
Any suggestions for how to break it up without serious machinery? I threw my shovel tip into it, thinking if I could just chip through an outer shell, it would would be much softer underneath. My shovel just "gonged" against it and bounced up.
Would soaking it with water help? Or just cause more problems for me?
Been there, done that..... Red clay which became concrete. I feel your pain.
Alas, only hard equipment will make it doable without killing yourself and using up every manly-man favor you could call in.
Best to just save up, pick a weekend and rent either a jackhammer and/or skidstear with a front-end loader. If you go with the skidstear, have your M-10 delivered a few days before so you can use the FEL to load it into the newly leveled stall.
Then pick another day to rent a tamper.
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I've been considering asking this very question. My stalls floors will also need to be resurfaced but we're not sure how to go about it because of the rock-hard, uneven floors. We've considered leveling by adding stone dust, then matting on top, but I hate mats on non-draining floors and want a good, draining floor instead. If the OP's floor is like mine, soaking does nothing to soften it up - I've had a flood in my barn and I had use a sump pump in the stalls to remove the water because it just sat there, like it was on concrete . I left one to soak, intentionally, and after a week, went in and removed the water. It evaporated a little, but I don't think it seeped at all in to that floor!
To do it manually the only tool to use is a digging bar aka Texas toothpick. It's a steel bar about 5' long, heavy, with one pointed end and one chisel end. You just chip away at your spots that need it and you'll get there - digs holes where a shovel won't do a thing and a pickaxe is too hard work.
If I had a large area to do I'd rent machinery though.
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If it is really that solid, can you simply add stonedust to the low spots and bring it up, rather than try to lower the high spots?
Might be easier if you are going the mat route and it will all be covered, right?
Yes, I am going the mat route, but unfortunately that won't work. The high spots are above the concrete "wall" (only a couple inches high) around the edge of the barn. I was hoping to level the dirt/mud so it was a few inches below that "wall" and raise it with gravel and such for drainage.
I will definitely check out something like the Texas toothpick. I only have an 11'X30' area to do, and it's only a few places where it's really high. I think if I can just get underneath the thick crust, it'll be easy. The soil is all very sandy and very loose around the barn.
I use a 3 bottom plow on my arena at times if it gets really packed hard. You can adjust how deep you plow with the lift. Break it up then go back over it with a cultivator. Works for me. Your ground sounds like mine.