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Lawn renovation

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aerodan1
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 6 massachusetts
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2016-05-15          195171


Hi,

I have a back / side yard that is kind of bumpy, the back corner is high so the drainage isn't great there. I just "built" this yard last fall - brought in a ton of fill to level it off, a ton of loam and then put in a entire sprinkler system and seeded it.

I'm thinking of stripping back the topsoil (hire someone with a dozer, I have a fel to scoop and stockpile it), bringing in some clean fill and hiring an operator with a mini laser grader to regrade, put the loam back down and have the laser grader hit it once more.

Just wondering what others overall thoughts may be.

- How much more difficult this may be dealing with existing irrigation? I feel like I will have to do a lot of digging by hand around the lines to make sure they don't get damaged.
- Anyone worked with a mini laser grader before? I found a couple of companies in / around MA that seem legit, but I know it's still very much on the skill of the operator - what questions should I be asking when considering who to go with? I'm guessing it's good if they plan to grade in multiple directions for example.

My goal is to have a flat (slightly pitched away from the house) yard, very smooth, like an athletic field almost. Thus I will be relying on surface and internal drainage (i.e. from the loam), and no subsurface drainage. Any thoughts are welcome and appreciated. Thanks,

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2016-05-17          195195


If the irrigation system there is same as here think it will have major rework to it. If nothing else setting it to match the new grade.

That sounds like a costly fix but may well be worth it. If that corner and it being bumpy are the issues you may be able to grade it without stripping the top soil off. But a simple question when you say you brought in a "Ton" of loam are you really meaning 2,000 pounds or just say a "lot" of loam? If only 2,000 pounds that is not much. Has it gotten so hard you can not remove the topsoil with the fel? ....

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aerodan1
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 6 massachusetts
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2016-05-17          195196


Thank you for the follow up. I don't think there would be major rework for the irrigation - most of the sprinkler heads would be at approximately the same elevation as before, and they're all connected to the lines through a piece of flexible tubing, so unless I screw up and damage the lines somehow I think I'm good.

It was probably about 6 or 7 triaxle loads of loam I brought in, so it was a lot. I could remove the loam with the fel, it just seems the dozer is the much better tool for the job. It would be a challenge though to prevent the loam from mixing with the subsoil either way. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2644 NorthWest NJ
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2016-05-18          195198


Irrigation systems are usually quite costly, dirt is cheap by comparison, bull dozers are crude unloving machines that can destroy irrigation lines etc.. Since you want to go higher why not forego saving the stuff you put down and leave it there? Is the type of loam you have too fluffy to fill over? ....

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aerodan1
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 6 massachusetts
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2016-05-18          195208


I will be hand digging around the lines that run through the yard - most of the lines are on the perimeter anyway. I don't want to go higher in most spots, plus the top layer in the long-term is only as good as the subgrade below, so really this needs to be addressed first. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2016-05-20          195213


aerodan, might have been a great first question just how large is your yard to grade, side yard and the back yard separate. How wide and such. That will help with type of equipment might be good option and such.

At least here you would not see a dozier in a yard for grading unless before construction and then a much above normal yard. My guess is at least two acres. Now you need to take into consideration we don't have rock nor hills. If you did have major cutting down of dirt a dozier can be great machine for that. Normally you do not see that for a yard, a whole subdivision yes or maybe a commercial site. They do have dozier with computer control levels to help get the grading you want. Would really be guessing at cost but for a yard you size job would probably have to pay for them hauling the machine in,then a flat dollar amount per hour for the machine and operator.
We call them road plows can also be a good machine for such grading and they also have them with computer aids to get the grading you want. They need room to drive past the end of what is being grader due to the blade being about mid way. My thought for an acre or so unless you have again major cutting down of dirt or major slope or rocks a tractor and box blade. If you use the lift arm adjustments on your tractor you should be able to tilt the blade with probably lowering the right end of the blade if you need to cut the land to a side slope. For cutting like it sounds like you need you probably will keep the blade level and use your lift to control the cutting of the dirt.
If I may quote an ole friend who was here you would do finally grading not in lines or circles but you would run in over lapping circles or ovals. Not his exact words but his point. To being with you first need to know how much you need to lower or raise each area of the lawn. Water does not need much slope to run and of course the more it has the more it can wash your lawn but the faster it is gone. I would suggest you use some sort of laser level and drive wooden stakes say in 10 to 20 square pattern to write on each stake how much with magic marker needs to be cut down or raised. I would write two numbers on each stake, how much dirt needs moving and then how much from the top of the stake it needs to be when graded to be the grade you want. The first number is so you have idea as you work and the second is to use to check by as you are doing the grading. Leave the stakes in place while you are doing the grading till you have only right around them untouched and them remove and just bring them to the grade around them.
I know you want to remove the top soil you brought in and may be best option but till you know the amount you need to cut down or or build up you really don't know. You may have areas you need to remove the top soil for you need to really drop the grade or you may need to lower the grade so little the amount of top soil being remove will not be any major issue.
Realize this is new built ground area but you may find the top soil issue is not as major with good soil testing and then adding nutrients as called for to take care of the lawn.

Now if you have a five acre yard there and can easy afford to hire it done...would recommend that..lol
Hope that helps.

If you are not sure on shooting the grade hire someone who has the equipment to. You can find surveyor, builder, plumbers and landscapers often have the tools and know how. Hey if not a real large yard you can use a water level which is basically clear flexible tubing you almost fully fill with water and use the water level from a base point as your reference grade and then the water level in the other end gives you that level but do be sure the level on the base point has not gone up or down with moving the hose. ....

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aerodan1
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 6 massachusetts
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2016-05-20          195217


Thank you for the follow up. Total land is 1/2 acre, so the back and side yards would account for about 0.6 acres give or take. It's about 60 - 90 feet wide in the back (narrows as it goes towards the back). Good point about the blade on a grader being in the middle of the machine and needing some extra room to go beyond the area being graded.

I'm figuring about a 2% grade sloped from left to right (or maybe a crown in the middle and 1% grade to either side). It would have been 1000x easier to do all this last summer before loam and irrigation went in, I rushed it no doubt about it. I would plan to reuse almost all the loam - the dozer I figured would be better than the fel to strip the soil (plus I would be hiring a more experienced operator than myself), and then as you said a road-grader type machine (but a mini version - I know a couple of local companies that have them equipped with a laser that do athletic fields, they only weigh about 3200 pounds, very slick machines) to grade it all out, the tractor with box blades are nice but up here in the north I don't know how prevalent they are.

I'd have a lot of hand digging to do around the irrigation lines to avoid damage, luckily most of the lines are on the perimeter and not in the middle of the yard.

I would think if the subgrade and final grades are on point that it should hold its form for a long time, assuming the water drains off to the side as intended. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2016-05-22          195223


I think you do good to talk to someone who can do the work and get their idea and pricing. ....

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aerodan1
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 6 massachusetts
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2016-05-30          195268


Yep, about all there is to it at this point. Thanks, ....

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