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Tips for Metal Detecting Sidewalks and Curb Strips

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Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting on the weekend for old coins and rings.

A silver ring I found while metal detecting sidewalk grass.

A silver ring I found while metal detecting sidewalk grass.

Tips for Metal Detecting Curb-Strip Grass

One of the best places to go metal detecting for old coins and rings is the grass between the street curb and sidewalk in older neighborhoods. I've treasure hunted many curb strips with my metal detector and found everything from skeleton keys and tokens to silver coins and valuable rings.

Metal detecting curb strips and sidewalks doesn't always require permission because the grass on the street side is typically owned by the city. However, even though homeowners don't own the grass there, they maintain it, and occasionally you'll run into problems. I've had the police called on me, but most of the time, you can avoid confrontations by following some helpful guidelines.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid an unpleasant run-in with law enforcement and the homeowner:

Always know the law before you head out with your metal detector. Call the police department and ask if metal detecting the grass between the sidewalk and curb is legal where you live. This is really important to know because your town might have an ordinance against it.

Sidewalk grass on the street side is typically for the public, but your town might only allow the utility company to dig in it. When you speak with the police, keep the badge number and name of the officer you talked to on hand. That way, if the police show up, or the homeowner, you have that information to show that you already spoke with the police department in advance.

Don't Metal Detect Sidewalks on a Weekend

Treasure hunting the grass along sidewalks on a weekend is far more likely to cause trouble because people are home, and they'll see you doing it. The best time to go, if possible, is during the week—preferably Monday after 9 AM but no later than 3 PM. Out of sight, out of mind.

Don't Metal Detect Well-Maintained Grass

Well-kept grass that the homeowner's obviously worked hard to maintain should always be avoided, or else you will end up with a confrontation if they see you digging in it. The best curb strips to metal detect and dig in is neglected grass full of weeds and bare spots.

Don't Argue With People

If someone confronts you and asks what you're doing, be nice and move on if they ask you to. It's easy to argue, but it usually isn't worth risking a call to the police when you could simply move on to the next curb strip. I've argued with people in the past and wasted time that could have been spent metal detecting somewhere else.

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Some people will confront you out of curiosity, but this is actually a good way to strike up a conversation and get permission to metal detect their yard too. I've actually had people next door invite me to metal detect their house too.

Don't Leave a Mess Behind

Regardless of where you dig, always make sure you don't leave a mess behind. Not filling holes and leaving dirt crumbs all over the grass is a big no-no. When I dig a hole, I always place the dirt plug on top of a rag so dirt crumbs don't fall over the lawn. If you don't put a rag underneath your dirt plugs, you'll leave a big mess behind.

Never dig holes in hot weather too, or else the grass will die soon after. The best time to dig holes is in cooler weather when rain is expected. The best time of year for metal detecting in grass is spring and fall, not in the middle of the summer.

A skeleton key I found near a sidewalk with my metal detector.

A skeleton key I found near a sidewalk with my metal detector.

Finding Sidewalk Grass to Metal Detect

Sidewalk grass gets heavy foot traffic, and if you go to an older neighborhood, you can find some amazing coins and jewelry with some patience. Most of what I've found metal detecting curb-strips are new and old coins, but I have also found silver rings, keys, toys, and tokens, using my Garrett AT Pro metal detector. My best advice for finding the good stuff is to swing the coil slow and listen for faint beeps to find deeper targets.

If you want to find older coins and rings, you need to focus your efforts on metal detecting curb grass in front of old homes. Some of these areas have never been metal detected and can be loaded with coins. I found one in my town that was full of silver coins, and I returned to that spot a few times and recovered multiple coins again.

Visit websites that provide access to free historical maps. Sites like Historic Aerials are good resources for finding old maps. I found old plat maps of my town and county dating back to 1872. I've used the maps multiple times to find places to go metal detecting. Take a look at maps for neighboring towns too. You can compare old maps with modern satellite images on Google Maps to see which homes are the oldest and what's there now.

Metal detecting curb strips can lead to getting permission to metal detect private property. Private property is one of the best places to go metal detecting for old coins, rings, and relics.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Matt G.

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