Tips for Metal Detecting Sidewalks and Curb Strips

Updated on October 2, 2019
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting for old coins and relics.

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

Curb strips are the grassy areas between the street curb and the sidewalk. These are good places to go metal detecting for old coins and rings. I've made antique finds treasure hunting curb grass on historic streets, including silver rings and coins from the 1800s.

Metal detecting curb strips and sidewalks usually doesn't require permission, and you can easily cover several blocks of them in a short amount of time. The issue with metal detecting the grass along curbs is that even though these areas are typically public property, people do occasionally get upset. I've had the police called on me occasionally, but most of the time I haven't had problems. If you decide to try detecting these areas, I'll share a few tips to help you avoid problems.

Find Out If Detecting on Curb Strips Is Legal in Your town

Before you head out with your metal detector, call the police department and confirm that metal detecting the grass between the sidewalk and curb is legal. This is very important because your town might have an ordinance against it.

Typically, the sidewalk grass is public property, but in some cases, these areas can only be dug in by the utility company or city by permit. Always know the law before digging a hole there.

If it's legal, write down the name and badge number of the officer who told you so. If someone calls the police on you, you can give the arriving officer this information to prove you called in advance to confirm the legality. You can also give this information to an angry homeowner if you're confronted while detecting.

Don't Metal Detect Sidewalks on a Weekend

Detecting the grass along sidewalks on a weekend is more likely to cause problems. Most people are home on the weekend 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.

Another option is to go late at night when everyone's sleeping. I haven't done this myself. The problem I see with this is people are more likely to call the police if they spot someone outside their home at a late hour.

Don't Metal Detect Well-Maintained Grass

Grass that looks like the homeowner's invested time and money maintaining it should be avoided. A confrontation with the homeowner is very likely if you start digging holes in well-kept grass, even if it's public property.

Weedy, neglected grass is the best place to detect and dig in. The homeowner more than likely won't care if they see you digging a hole there as long as you don't leave a mess behind.

Always Be Courteous

If someone confronts you to ask 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 one, especially if you aren't finding anything anyway. I've argued with people and wasted a lot of time that could have been spent detecting somewhere else.

Some people will confront you merely out of curiosity, but this is a good way to strike up a friendly conversation and get permission to metal detect their yard. Some people say no and some people say yes, but if you're calm and friendly, you'll get permission more often than not.

Don't Leave a Mess Behind

Regardless of where you dig, you should always make sure you never leave a mess behind. Not filling holes or 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 use a rag, you'll make a mess.

Never dig holes in very hot weather during the summer. If you do, the grass will die soon after. The best time to dig holes is in cooler weather when rain is expected. The goal should always be to make it look as though a hole was never dug.

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

You can find practically anything in sidewalk grass, including lots of garbage, but with a good detector, you can minimize trash finds. I have found old and new coins, rings, house keys, toys, and tokens, using my Garrett AT Pro metal detector. My best advice, regardless of the machine you're using, is to swing the coil very slow and listen for faint beeps.

I've returned to areas I thought were hunted out only to walk away with more stuff I missed the previous times I was there. Deeper coins and rings take a little time and patience to find.

If you want to find older coins and rings, you need to go metal detecting on historic streets. The grass by the street in an older neighborhood has been walked on for a long time, and some of these areas have never been metal detected.

Visit websites that sell historical maps. Sites like Historic Aerials are good resources for finding old maps. I found old maps of my town dating back to the 1800s. You can compare old maps with modern images on Google Maps to see which homes are the oldest. These are the best places to go to.

Metal detecting curb strips can easily lead to getting permission to 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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