You can use your garden hose to help lay out the borders of curved areas for gardens, flower beds, paths or small ponds. Just lay the hose along the proposed edge, check it for position, then mark out the curve by using a garden spade along the edge of the hose.
You can use a level on top an 8 ft.-long 2x4 to determine the slope for yard and garden projects. If you need a slope of 1/4 in. per foot, tack a 2-in. block under the 2x4 on the down- slope end. When the bubble is level, you will have 1/4 in. per foot (2 in. divided by 8 ft.). You can vary the block height for other slopes. If you want a slope of 1/2 in. per foot, make the block 4 in. high.
Place rows of trees or shrubs to avoid soil loss from wind and also to create a habitat and shelter for wildlife. Windbreaks can minimize the wind around your home and serve as a sight and sound barrier.