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I have a small ditch that I dug to route some water. It turns out that it does not work, so I was wanting to fill it back in. The ditch is about a foot deep in some places. Can I compact new topsoil with a large block of wood and a sledge hammer?

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    How wide and long is this ditch? The right tool is called a "tamper", but often getting the soil damp and walking on it can work if the ditch is small. – JPhi1618 Jun 5 at 15:08
  • At the widest point, it is about 2 feet wide. It is about 15 to 20 feet long. – Chad Jun 5 at 15:59
  • Thank you very much for your help. – Chad Jun 5 at 16:11
  • Based on that size, I agree with Ecnerwal. That's really not even worth buying a tamper unless this is the sort of thing you will do often. – JPhi1618 Jun 5 at 16:28
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If your available tools include a sledgehammer, just use that, held vertically, head down, pick it up and drop it, repeatedly, every 2 or 3 inches of soil fill (you cannot effectively tamp thicker layers of soil with hand tools.)

Forget the wood block.

  • Right. Gravity is your friend. Your own boots would work better than whacking a board. – isherwood Jun 5 at 15:27
  • Thank you for your help. – Chad Jun 5 at 16:12
  • Another question: Should the ground dirt and the topsoil be wet or neither or both? It seems like when I use the tamper I bought it just splashes mud when wet. Thanks again for your help. – Chad Jun 5 at 20:26
  • damp, not wet ... just mist the dirt lightly – jsotola Jun 5 at 21:55
  • Thank you for that. – Chad Jun 5 at 22:05

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