Soil compactors press down on the top of the ground to remove as much air from the soil as possible. Vibratory plate compactors work by repeatedly pounding a flat plate against the top of sand or gravel to pack it down. Using a plate compactor is required any time you are installing a walkway or driveway or constructing a building. Soil that is not compacted can sink and cause cracks in any structure above it.
Rent a vibratory plate compactor at any home improvement or heavy equipment rental company. They are typically gas-powered, but electric models are also available.
Smooth out the top of the ground using a wide-toothed rake so it's as smooth as possible. This makes walking and pushing the vibratory plate compactor much easier.
Put on safety glasses, ear plugs, work gloves and steel-toed work boots. You also need a safety helmet if you're compacting gravel.
Place the vibratory plate compactor at one edge of the ground area you want to compact.
Plug in the power cord, if applicable, and grasp the handle securely in one hand. Turn on the power button with the other hand.
Grasp the handles firmly, and slowly push the vibratory plate compactor forward. When you reach the end of the area, turn around and push it in the opposite direction directly beside the first location.
Continue until you have moved the compactor over the entire area. Turn the machine off and reposition so that it is perpendicular to the first set of rows. Repeat the process to compact the entire area again.