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Dirt Compaction

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wr5evk8jj
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 61 Haymarket, VA
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2006-01-18          122990


I just received around 12-14 truckloads of fill dirt yesterday. I was not counting on getting that much all at once or even when I was going to get it, but now I have it. What I was planing on was to receive several truckloads at a time, spread it, water it down (repeatedly), and then drive on it with my wife's SUV in order to compact it. I am willing to let it compact over the next three years or so. Now that I have a lot of dirt all at once, maybe I need to rethink the "plan of attack." Should I just spread it where it needs to go, and water the heck out it over the next year? What this filled-in area is slated to be is for is extending the pavement and then to build a new garage (maybe about 30x50) separate from the house.

I don't know if I have all of the fill that I need as I don't know how big the dump truck was nor how full the loads were; it was done yesterday morning and afternoon while I was here at work). But, I have figured that I need about 440 cu yards of fill tapering from about 3 inches to about 2.5-3 ft where the low end is now. Any holes in the compaction approach that anyone can readily see?

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Dirt Compaction

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7154 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-01-18          122994


If you have 3 years to wait, you won't do anything now that 3 years of waiting won't do by itself.

Having said that, I would suggest all you need to do is a little shaping so as to prevent erosion from re-arranging your fill material. Basically you want a uniform slightly domed shape so that the water will run off instead of accumulating. If you get a big puddle on top and it finds it's way to an edge the resulting river will wash away a lot of dirt.

Best of luck. ....

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Dirt Compaction

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SG8NUC
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 579 g
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2006-01-18          122997


I built a form alot like a concrete form as it settles add more dirt. This will help with the dirt washing away. As Murf suggested a dome will help. My form was 40' x 40' it compacted over 2 years and then a slab was poured for the shed. No cracks so far. Tractor is happy. ....

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Dirt Compaction

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4285 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2006-01-18          123002


I agree with Murf. 3 years is plenty of time to compact. I think the best thing you can do after you get the dirt spread out like you want, is to get a good vegetative cover on it ASAP. Perenial rye for the immediate need and mix in some suitable annual grasses. ....

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Dirt Compaction

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beagle
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1333 Michigan
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2006-01-18          123014


Depending on the type of soil, doing much of anything to fill more than 8-12" deep will not get you compaction of the lower layers. If the soil is clay, or clayey gravel, adding water could actually do you more harm than good. Clays are expansive soils, meaning they expand when their moisture content approaches a saturation point. It will then shrink as it dries, losing it's compaction. With expansive soils, generally a technique called "pre-consolidation" is used to drive the water out of the soil and consolidate it with overburden. With sands and sandy gravels, water and vibratory compaction is effective to about 12". The water acts as a lubricator, along with some gravity effect to aid in comapction. You can tell what type of fill you are getting by looking at the particle sizes. Very fine and sticky and soils that stain contain a good deal of clay. Rougher grainy soils have sand and/or gravel, and will compact to a more consitent base and offer better drainage.

For most fill dirt of mixed soil types, I would recommend spreading in layers 6-8" thick, and roller compacting ( driving over )repeatedly before adding the next lift. The soil should be moist, but not saturated. The narrower the tires of the compacting machine are, the better off you are. 3 years will cetailnly help. As rain water or melting snow drains down through the soil, it creates a "gravity effect" to draw down and help compact the soil, but as previously mentioned, erosion can be a big problem over three years. ....

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Dirt Compaction

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dkheckmanl
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 134 Middleton, ID
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2006-01-18          123016


Wr5,

Based on my 38 years as a highway engineer, I think Beagle pretty much nailed it. If you follow his advice, you will have a good foundation to build a road or a building on. I definitely would not put it in one lift even if you were going to let it set for 2 or 3 years. I've seen roadway fills that were placed in too thick of lifts settle two or three years after they were constructed. The only other thing I might add is do not try to compact if the material is frozen.
How do like your little Case/IH tractor? Did you buy it from the Case/IH dealer on I-15 just north of Denver? I visited that dealer once when I was visiting my brother in Denver.
Good luck with your construction.
Dave in Idaho ....

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Dirt Compaction

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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1539 Moravia, NY
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2006-01-19          123022


First off what kind of fill is it? Ditch cleaning fill is almost all fines and it will never be stable. Over burden that has been stripped from a site depending on the composition may or may not settle. Clean well graded gravel would be the best but it is rare anyone would give it away and that will settle in fine.

You can roll and pack in layers all you want and when mother nature waters it and freezes it all those packed particles push apart.

Shape it the way you want it let mother nature do its thing and if the composition of the soil dictates a ground fabric before you start to build a road or foundation slab use it. ....

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Dirt Compaction

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wr5evk8jj
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 61 Haymarket, VA
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2006-01-19          123026


Wow! The intelligent feedback based on real-world knowledge is why this is such a great site. Ask and ye shall receive (without being trashed or made to feel like a moron).

There's a lot to respond on. Thanks for your responses to my posting on compaction.

What I did not put in the original posting was the dirt type. There is little clay where I am at; it's mostly sand based. The fill that I took delivery of came from a house's basement excavation being built about a half mile from my place.

The dirt's compaction was an issue with me with so much dirt. I was concerned about the lower levels not getting compacted under a lot of dirt. That was the concern about getting so much at once; that thought is "in there" with my original post, but not there explicitly. I really wanted to get some dirt in, get it spread, and get it compacted some before receiving the next load(s).

The tractor runs great and does nearly everything that I want it to do. I just do it a lot slower than one would with a larger tractor. That was very evident yesterday evening when trying to clear-out the ditch. The driver (whom I have not met) was worried about driving across the blacktop driveway to unload. So, he dropped part of the first load in the ditch alongside the driveway's culvert. Clearing out that compacted dirt was a challenge and it is still not completed, but at least the ditch is not blocked now.

There's just not a lot of "oomphta" in the loader, but knew that when buying the tractor early last year knowing that I did not need or require a larger unit. But, with what I am trying to do, nothing really would handle this task in a short time unless it was of a pretty good sized unit. I was thinking when running back and forth from the ditch and where I was dumping about the dealer telling me if I "needed" a demonstrator skid steer, to let them know. I may take them up on it. The driver started about a third of the way down the marked area for being filled ending the 15 loads with about 4 loads outside where I need it.

The bit of dirt to relocate may be to my advantage when considering compaction. I guess that I could get the main area's dirt spread and somewhat compacted. Then, relocate the misplaced dirt and compact it. Maybe it was not such a mistake after all.

The shape needs to conform to the slope that I have instead of being domed. It will approach level, but have a bit of grade to get the water off. We don't get much rain or moisture, but there are some good rains at times. Getting some "terrestrial hair" on it was not thought of, but needed. I live on the side of a hill with 19 foot of drop from the back right corner to the front right. The fill is "down slope" from the driveway to build it up (for extending the driveway and to build the stand-alone garage later).

Thanks to all (Dave, Beagle, Murf, Harvey, Chief, and SG8NUC) for your concerns and insight into this project sharing your expertise. Your comments have been appreciated. ....

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Dirt Compaction

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2006-03-25          126658


Besides compaction what have you done to ensure the wedge-shape fill (as seen from the side) will not slide down the hill? I dug in subdivisions where many years ago they backfilled 5 feet deep over a hay field. I uncovered it and found the hay had not decomposed and the matted hay prevented the top backfill from integrating or locking into it. This also happened on 2 large ponds I dug that started with 4 feet of fill over a weedy field. Both layers were clay. The pond would fill up after a rain, but would drain quickly. The fill about 100 feet from the pond where it was fairly thin atop the original grassy elevation stayed wet. The layer of weeds allowed the pond water to migrate under the fill effectively draining it. That said, IMHO assuming the existing sloping yard is stable, you should have dug out a flat surface or plane into the slope. Then, fill it consistently in 3-4 inch lifts (layers) and compact it with a plate compactor (depending on many factors such as soil type, density, moisture content, etc. a vibratory roller-type compactor may be best). If the fill is a different type than the slope's (dry or not), the tendency will be for the fill wedge to ramp down. Combine that with vegetation on the old slope which will allow water to migrate (where the fill is thinnest and has less resistance to water pressure) inbetween the top and bottom layers and create a lubricant, much like a glacier behaves as the meltwater seeps between the ice and the mountain soil beneath. If it is too late for this, I would suggest creating what I call soil pins which consists of augering down through both the top and bottom filllayers and filling them with homogeneous material that has excellent shear strength clay crushed stone, or even broken concrete. Poured concrete is even better. An even more extreme example of a soil pin is a "helical pier" (google it) which are big screws/augers spun into the ground. They help lift and pin a sliding foundation to a slope. They are designed to withstand incredible side shear and compression and tension (53,000 lb. per 10 inch pier is not uncommon--approx. 10 per foundation) ....

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Dirt Compaction

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dkheckmanl
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 134 Middleton, ID
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2006-03-26          126671


By the way, how is your fill and compaction project coming along? I do not think you will have any problem with the fill sliding down the slope if the drop is only 3'in 50'. Several years ago at my old place I built a similar size pad on about the same slope. I built a little retaining wall about 3' tall to keep the lower end from eroding. I used the keystone locking blocks that you can get at the big box stores. It worked out great. Just have to be careful when you compact up close to the wall. ....

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Dirt Compaction

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Woodie
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 105 Michigan lower
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2006-03-26          126683


The fill material sounds like what I had availble and used for base for my driveway pad25x50 and barn30x60 (sandy, some lightgravel and some clay type veins an old timer told me they it called 'bank run'). My concrete contractor told me to make sure I mixed it up before or during the buildup to get a more 'uniform'blend & compaction. I built up the areas in aseries of lifts and compacted the area by driving over it with the tractor (w/load in the bucket) and also dragging the bucket w/ some down pressure back across to level out the bumps.
....

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Dirt Compaction

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2006-03-27          126705


Using tire down-pressure alone is not the answer. The tire is static in that it has NO "pounding" or "shaking" ability to force the soil particles together and force out air and liquid water. Picture this: if you drove a heavy tractor (tire) over a nail sticking up in a piece of wood--providing it didn't puncture the tire--, you would hardly see that nail be driven into the wood. Now take a 1-lb. hammer and tap the nail and you can drive it in easily. Compaction works the same way--it's not the weight but the weight and frequency of the blows. Most drum and all plate compactors use vibration "blows" like a hammer to compact. Plate compactors use some of the force it develops to drive it forward (some backward). ....

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