Why Make a Metal Detecting Test Garden?

Why Make a Metal Detecting Test Garden?

Like many other sports Metal Detecting requires practice. Being well prepared before your next big hunt can give you an extra edge that may just lead you to some great finds.

One way that you can become a better metal detectorist is to create a test bed, or test garden. This is an area where you plant coins and other targets at various depths. Then practice your swing, or pinpointing techniques with your metal detector while training your ears to differentiate between the various tones each target makes.

Setting up a test garden is easy, and below Clark Rickman explains how to prepare your test bed without spending a dime for materials.


Excerpt from Clark’s article “ New To Detecting: Quick Start Guide

Setting up a Test Garden

A test garden is a controlled area with known targets you can detect to practice and regularly check the performance of your machine.

1) First you’ll need to find an area of your yard free of any metal objects. Something like a ten foot square is good. This can be some good practice in itself. Turn your detector on and use the manual to find out how to use zero discrimination, then find a spot in your yard with very few signals. Dig anything you find and continue until you are fairly sure you can sweep the area with no signals.

2) Get together some test objects including 5-6 good items of the type you will be looking for such as various coins. Also include some common trash in the test group: a soda pull-tab, a bottle cap, a soda can, and a rusty nail. Also obtain a pile of brightly colored wooden golf tees to mark the targets in the garden.

3) Take the test objects and bury them at various depths of 3-6 inches and at least a foot apart from one another. As you improve, you may want to bury some deeper targets, and move the good and bad targets closer together. Make a map of your test area on a piece of paper showing the location of each object, its identification, and its approximate depth. Press a brightly colored golf tee in the ground directly above each target so you can see its location.

Try to visit your test garden prior to each hunt. Even after your become an “expert”, the test garden is a great place to warm up, try out new settings, and make sure the detector is working properly with fully charged batteries.


Why Make a Metal Detecting Test Garden?

– Practice Swing Speeds.

Various swing speeds change how the metal detector reacts to and interprets metal targets in the ground. Each brand of detector has a sweet spot depending on how fast you swing that particular machine. Some detectors perform best with a slow swing speed, others perform best with a faster swing speed. Testing your machine in a test garden can help you determine how fast you should be swinging your detector for optimum results.

– Train Your Ear to recognize the tone of each specific target.

By comparing the various tones that each metal object makes, you will be able to learn the various nuances to the tones that your metal detector assigns to specific targets. In time you will be able to tell the difference between a pop tab and a penny or other target. Coins will have a “roundness” to the tone, and in due time you will be able to recognize a coin signal quickly.

– Practice Pinpointing Techniques.

A test garden is also useful in learning how to pinpoint targets. Each coil type and size will have a specific area where the signal is the strongest. By learning how to pinpoint efficiently you will spend less time digging, and more time detecting.

– Compare The Tones of trash targets to the tones of desired targets

Planting desired targets along with undesired targets is a good way to learn how to tell the difference in their tones.

– Learn How To Use The Settings on your detector.

A test garden is the perfect spot to learn how each setting functions on your metal detector. Try different settings to see how your machine reacts to various targets. This can also give you an idea of how much discrimination to use while still being able to locate desired targets, or how to notch an undesired target out.


In this video, youtube member “TreasureBarrel” demonstrates another simple but effective way to design a metal detecting test garden.


This type of set up can also give you a general idea of the depths that you can expect from various size coils. Armed with this knowledge you will be able to make an informed decision on which coil is best for the type of hunting you plan to do.

A large percentage of old silver coins are down around 6 to 8 inches or deeper, so knowing which coil best achieves those depths can be the difference between a great day coin hunting or going home empty handed.

Final Thoughts

“The more I practice the luckier I get.”

Golfing Great – Arnold Palmer

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