Five Tips for Searching Urban Home Sites
By Jerry Eckhart
From Page 18
October, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. All rights reserved.

Most experienced coin hunters have their own special techniques for searching urban homes. Each probably approaches the yard differently, depending on which technique works best for them.
On the other hand, there are many, many beginners new to metal detecting who don’t have the slightest idea how to begin searching a yard. Most have long wanted to begin searching for coins and are only now getting into it. They either bought their first detector or received it as a gift.
In most cases, these beginners have only a slight idea as to what this wonderful hobby entails. They have more than likely been told by someone at some time to begin searching in their own yard. That is where beginners have the most luck. As a result, the beginner stands out in his yard and wonders just where and how to begin.
It isn’t as hard as it looks. It doesn’t matter whether you begin in your own yard or some other site - the techniques are much the same. I have developed these five techniques as a way for the beginner to get started. They are a little different than what most experienced metal detector users recommend, but I have learned they work best for the beginner. 
Both new and experienced searchers really want to find something at the start of their search. This is especially true in the case of the beginner who just might lose all interest in coin hunting if it takes a long time to make that initial find of something interesting.
Hidden Areas
Begin by searching areas that are not readily visible. This would include shrubs, bushes, hedges and out of sight corners. Remember, children love to get out of sight of their parents, and they seek out those spots in their own yard where no one can see them. This is even truer for kids in the past. They had no TV, no commercial toys, nor instant entertainment. The children of yesteryear had to create their own entertainment. It was in those hidden places that they could do what they wanted without too many prying eyes.
Back when I was a child, my cousin and I would sneak our pennies out and use them to build fences and pens in the dirt. Inside those, we would place the dried skeletons of locusts (cicadas) and play like they were our cattle. Invariably, we lost a penny or two in the dirt. I can imagine other children in the 1940’s playing games with their coins also. 
As time flew by, and I had my own children, I discovered that children are selectively deaf. I could call and call until I became hoarse and still receive no answer. When I went searching, I would find them hidden in some out of the way place playing whatever they chose to play.
When I began the hobby of metal detecting, it was invariably those hidden places I used as a child that I found the most goodies. Many of those finds were older than me so I knew the same places had been used by generations of children. The older a home site is, the greater its chances are of having been used longer and having a larger number of lost coins. 
Don’t just think you might find coins underneath hedges and around shrubs, expect them. Search those places closely and work your searchcoil as far under the hedge or shrub as you can get. Those brushy areas were not as large in the past. That means children would be playing in places that may be covered by leafy branches now.
Although technically not a hidden area, flowerbeds traditionally produce rings. Homeowners, working in their flowerbeds, or vegetable gardens for that matter, tend to lose rings. Those not wearing gloves would have rings slip from their fingers as they planted or tended plants. If they did wear gloves, often when they took their gloves off, a ring would slip unnoticed from their finger and fall into loose soil. Many homeowners have specifically asked me to search for rings they lost while gardening.
Wear Patterns
Unless the lawn is carefully manicured, watered and fertilized, many yards will have a pattern of wear where people walked on the grass instead of using the sidewalk. It might be when taking the garbage out or walking around tending flowers and such. Although the clothesline may be gone, the wear pattern beneath where the line was will often still show.
At other times, especially on corner lots, the wear pattern may have been established by children walking home from school and cutting across a lawn. Other wear patterns occur because children like to rough and tumble or play ball in a large yard. 
These overused spots quickly show thinning grass and are virtual hot spots for lost coins. Drive around after school lets out for the day and take note of where children play in the yard and how they are playing. Then, select those same areas in the lawn you are searching and see what you find. I’ll bet you find enough lost coins to buy a set of batteries.
Along Sidewalks
Change is often lost when pedestrians walk along the sidewalks, both going to and from the house and walking along the sidewalks from street to street. Unfortunately, most modern housing areas have eliminated sidewalks along the street, allowing their lawns to extend right to the curb. 
Pedestrian traffic has also decreased tremendously. Except for children walking home from school, you seldom see anyone out taking a stroll. If you do see them, they are walking in the street at a brisk pace. This is how many get their exercise.
Concentrate your searching in areas which have sidewalks, the older the better. That is where you will find most of your coins. Modern areas will seldom have old coins unless they are built on top of an older site. 
The rationale for losing coins along sidewalks is two fold. First, when people park along the curb in front of a house, pocket coins will become entangled in keys, gloves or other items.
If coins are tucked into pockets, even coat pockets, some will usually drop on to the ground when other items are taken from that pocket. The heaviest concentration of coins will usually be right in front of the sidewalk leading to the house. That is where most people park their cars. 
Other coins will be found all along the curb, because not everyone gets to park in front of the entrance. The same goes for the sidewalk leading to the house. Folks going to and from the curb will invariably reach for their keys before they reach their car. As they do so, an occasional coin will slip out also.
The second reason is completely different. It might seem unlikely, but many men and boys run around with holes in their pockets. Often they don’t even know there is a hole until it becomes large enough to lose a large item, such as a set of keys or a pocketknife. Up to that point, single coins, especially dimes will drop through the hole, down the leg (you don’t always feel them) and roll into the grass without being seen.
Mow the Lawn (Lane Pattern)
No, I don’t mean to actually drag out a lawnmower and mow the grass, but set up a back and forth search pattern similar to how you mow the lawn. Professional searchers, even the oceanographic surveyors, use this lane pattern. It is a highly efficient pattern that covers a lot of ground thoroughly. Be warned, this is a very slow process.
Start at the edge of the lawn and work in a straight line toward a selected point at the other end of the lane. When you reach the end of the line, turn and work back the way you came. Take your time and work slowly. Overlap your swing and also slightly overlap your previous lane by about a foot.
If you have trouble keeping track of where you are, try using a small flag similar to those surveyors use. You don’t have to run out and buy these and you don’t need a lot of them. Your markers can be made by straightening a few wire clothes hangers and taping a bit of cloth or plastic to them so you can see them. These will keep you on a straight line.
Although this is a very thorough search pattern, it does take time. If you want to make quick finds to start out, I suggest you try the first three methods to begin with. Once you have searched the hidden areas, the worn spots and the sidewalks, then work the lane pattern.
Grid Pattern
The grid pattern is much the same as mowing the lawn, but more thorough and still more time consuming. Once you cover the entire lawn with a series of lanes in one direction, start another lane pattern at right angles to the first. That way, you will overlap your original search pattern with one in a different direction and cover the spots you missed originally.
I doubt you will be able to use all five of these techniques in one day of searching. If you do, you are probably searching entirely too fast. Slow down and use each technique until you are sure you have exhausted it. Then go to the next. 
By the time you use all five techniques on one yard, you will have pretty well cleaned it out. Now, that does not mean there are no more coins there. It just means you will have found the majority of them. Each year, coins turn up in worked out areas because of changes in temperature, moisture and earth movement. That, my friends, is another story for another time.
Thirty-four years of personal metal detecting experiences.

The most productive area is usually between the sidewalk and curb. 
Get as far under bushes and shrubs as possible. 

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