Making a large spirit level

Update Feb 2021: With the availability of relatively cheap laser levels, this 'how to' is now somewhat redundant, but it still might prove useful if you want to measure the difference where the levels are out of 'line of sight', around a corner or behind a garden building, hedge or garden wall.

If you want to measure the difference in levels of your garden you could use a regular spirit level balanced between two spikes that have been hammered into the ground, working your way from the highest to lowest point, but as the distance increases or if the height difference is large, it becomes more difficult as longer or multiple stakes would be required.

An alternative is to make a large spirit level with a couple of lemonade bottles and a length of garden hose.

Items you will need:
  • 2 large lemonade bottles.
  • Hose pipe
  • Bradawl (bradel) or drill bit
  • Marker pen
  • Water
  • Tape measure
  • Make a hole in the bottom of the lemonade bottles to prevent an air lock.
  • Connect one end of the hose to the neck of one of the bottles.
  • Fill the hose and bottle with water.
  • Fix the second bottle to the other end of the hose.
  • Hold both bottles next to each other and mark the water level.
  • Secure one of the bottles to a stake. When the second bottle is moved around the water will flow from one bottle to the other. Raising and lowering the second bottle in the air will make the water level move up and down in the bottom. When the water level is on the mark you made earlier the two bottles are level, measure the distance from the mark to the ground, subtract the distance of the mark of the first bottle to the ground and you have the difference in height.
A large home made spirit level