Terracing my property: Landscape Design  -- Landscape Discussion Forum and Review Terracing my property: Landscape Design -- Landscape Discussion Forum

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 05-20-2003, 06:20 Post: 55152
Reberta Young
2003-05-20 06:20:17
Post: 55152
 Terracing my property

How do I go about this Job with my new Kubota tractor? I have approximately 4000 sq ft on a 10 -12 percent slope that I want to put 4 or 5 levels in. the dementions are about 50 x 200. Do I begin at the top and work down or at the bottom and work up?






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 05-20-2003, 07:22 Post: 55154
TomG

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 Terracing my property

It's sort of a tough call. I think a 12% slope is almost 7-degrees, which is generally feasible to work with most tractors. It does depend on what's being done, soil conditions and the particular tractor though. A tractor having low CG, 4wd and ag tires would be an advantage.

If I were doing it and had confidence the tractor would be stable, I'd do it with my box scraper. My box is a foot wider than the rear tire tracks. I'd lower the uphill side of the box as much as I could with the side-leveler and then lower the hitch until the box end contacts the ground, and then a bit more.

I'd probably start at the top and work down. Some soil that the box cuts will come out on the downhill side of the box where the cutter is off the ground but some soil will remain in the box and can be dumped passed the end of the terrace. If you start at the bottom then soil from higher terraces will be dumped on the ones that are finished. I'd keep the depth of cut just deep enough so the box didn't fill up halfway across the terrace and carefully consider where the box is dumped. You probably don't want to end up driving over a steep pile of loose soil when on a side hill. If tractor stability is at all in question, you do have to be aware that if working top-down you'd end up driving over loose soil as you go down, which would increase chances of loosing traction and sliding. Using a box in like places side-thrust on it that would tend to push the rear wheels down hill.

It would take a number of passes before a level terrace would be cut. The side-leveler wouldn't have to be readjusted for each pass because the tractor will become more and more level as long as the uphill wheel rides in the cut the box is making. Using a rear blade would work about the same but it would dump all soil cut on the downhill side as the cut is made unless it's a blade that had end-plates. Angling the downhill side foreward would help keep soil on the blade. If I didn't have confidence working on the side-hill, the terraces could be dug going straight up and down with a loader and toothbar or possibly a box scraper.






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 05-20-2003, 08:53 Post: 55159
DRankin



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 Terracing my property

Reberta, what implements are you planning on using for this project?

If you have a rear blade you can work across the slope. If you plan to dig with the FEL you will probably have to work uphill.






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 05-20-2003, 10:42 Post: 55169
Murf



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 Terracing my property

Personally I think your trying to solve the problem the wrong way.

First of all, one of your guess-timates is off, 50' x 200' is 10,000 square feet, not 4,000. This makes a big difference in how much work you might have ahead of you.

Other than that, terraces have their own unique problems, and you may just be swapping one set of problems for another. If you have 50' of 12% grade for example, that is a 6' vertical drop over 50' of horizontal distance. If you use 4 drops (for easy math) it equates to 4 individual drops of 18". These will require either something to hold the soil back, or it will eventually slump downhill, or that they be graded to a maximum of 3:1 slope, or in other words, that an 18" slope be done over a 54" distance horizontally. Do this 4 times and you still have 216" (or 18 feet) of slope to deal with, and now they are even steeper than before, and so skinny that they are tough to maintain.

My suggestion to you would be to put a lot of dirt at the bottom of the slope (or take some from the top and move it down to the bottom), lengthening the horizontal distance of the 6' height difference, and reduce the overall slope to a more comfortable 5 or 6 degrees.

Best of luck.






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 05-21-2003, 01:37 Post: 55232
Reberta Young
2003-05-21 00:00:00
Post: 55232
 Terracing my property

Murf
If I am trying to solve the problem the wrong way, then tell me what is the right way. I am very new at this so I will appreciate all the help I can get.
The 50' is not the grade, the 200' is. My slope is long and narrow. Does this make a difference. I plan to have wide terraces. There are 2 "roads" at 2 different levels running the length of the slope that will not be included in the cuts. The slope runs rather diagonally from the top SE corner to the bottom NW corner. Tommorrow I will measure more precisely the land, however, It will only be as accurate as my reach - (how high can I stretch at the bottom of the slope)






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 05-21-2003, 07:12 Post: 55241
TomG

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 Terracing my property

I anticipated 'novice' so I concentrated on some safety stuff. Working on side-hills is a bit tricky. I also figured the slope is the long way and the 4,000 sq. ft. was probably a portion of the plot that is more steeply sloped.

The side leveler is on the 3ph and levels an implement side to side. Most rear blades have their own tilts and swings but I have to use the 3ph to lower one end of my box scraper to cut side grades. A rear blade may be the better implement for the job, but they tend to push soil to the side rather than carry it on the blade front.

Grading is something of an art with either a blade or a box. I wouldn't expect to get good results right off and might practice on something less demanding first. If there are erosion problems on the roads, improving the, may be a good place to practice. Roads on slopes are generally crowned and ditched. Rock fills in the ditch slows down erosion. For severe problems, culverts can be run under roads to shunt flow to a terrace. Terraces can be planned to have good drainage angles of about 4-degrees to someplace desirable. Alternatively, if the roads traverse the slope then the ditches may have decent drainage angles. The terraces on the steep part might be channeled into the road ditches.

But, all this is sounding a bit elabourate. Murf builds golf courses and he certainly knows the better ways of doing things. His comments about the number and width of terraces should be thought about. If the 12% slope was over the full length of a 200' slope, there'd be a 24' drop. Terracing it in five steps would result in 5' walls that almost certainly would need retaining walls.

What you want to do may similar to old style irrigation. If land was sloped, the terracing needed to get irrigation ditches so they'd work could get very fancy. It just wasn't practical for a lot of land--guess that's why sprinklers became common. If I were doing it, I might invest in a laser level (I use a water level myself) so I could plot a set of constant elevation marks points for each terrace. If the slopes aren't constant and the steep slope traverses the plot, the constant elevation points won't be a straight line. If I wanted the terraces to drain to a ditch, I'd calculate end points that would give a 4% slope and eyeball the points in between. Now this is sounding really elabourate so maybe Murf has better suggestions.






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 05-21-2003, 08:18 Post: 55256
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 Terracing my property

Reberta, TomG hit on the key point I was trying to make.

If the slope is down the 200' length then your problem is even bigger (or in this case taller) than I thought at first. The vertical difference is 24' (at 12% grade) and if you want wide terraces then the vertical drop is taken up in few steps, meaning each one is a bigger step. Even if you broke it up into 6 drops, each one would still be 6' vertically. If you take 6 drops of 6' each at 50' in width, that is 1,800 square feet of retaining wall if you went that way. I don't know where you are located but in most places that would be at least $30,000 if you were to hire someone to build that much wall, even just from rock-filled gabions (those big wire baskets, ugly, but cheap and funcional). That is a big job, a really big job. Probably a lot more than you and your Kubota are ready for.

My suggestion would be to consider one of the following;

1) hire a local excavator to dig the hill back at the top, and fill in at the bottom to reduce the grade to a maximum of 6% grade, then you & the 'Bota spread topsoil over the new grade and start the new grass cover.

2) buy copious amounts of the special 'hillside' seed mix that the Highways people use now, it is a mixture of grasses that don't grow more than 6" or so, and wild flowers of various description. It will take a little while to achieve, but when it's doen you end up with a beautiful 'au naturel' hillside that never needs to be mowed, so grade is irrelevant.

Best of luck.






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 05-22-2003, 05:54 Post: 55321
TomG

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 Terracing my property

The job Murf and I have been describing is the biggest possible job--assuming that the entire 200' slope is a 12% grade and that run-off is a problem.

The job becomes smaller and may even be 'Bota managable' if the object is more of a landscaping idea where the entire slope wouldn't be terraced. Same issues apply though and it may be good to have gone through the big job issues even for a modest landscaping idea. Everybody here likely would be happy to talk more about implement use.






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 05-28-2003, 00:07 Post: 55772
Reberta Young
2003-05-28 00:00:00
Post: 55772
 Terracing my property

Murf, I assume that is short for Murphy.
Oh well that is beside the point, which is - I am very befuddled now. shows you how old I am huh?
This reply is for tom also.
Reviewing measurements and guestimates, which there are a lot of, I think this job sounds like too much for me, but what the heck, there actually is no rush, sooooo. Narrow end of property is 40' wide at the top, down a slope 142' which ends 60' across the bottom. That is not all, there is a slight slope across the width also. which i think I mentioned earlier. Is it imperitive that I know the grade degree/ percent exactly? As you go down the width of the slope each 10/12' section going lengthwise gets steeper. Judging this is very difficult. Is there an easy way to figure this without a lot of matimatical equations, and, if, the slope were as much as 20% at the steepest is it even feasable that I could do it - very very carefully?
My tractor is a Kubota B7800HSD with a box blade in the rear and scoup in the front. As stated before I am a novice, but a quick learner.
There is no real problem with erosion either on the roads nor the slope, I mainly want to do the tiering for esthetic value - making it look nicer - and, easier to walk around on, which I do at least twice a day over the total 2 1/2 acre property of which the part I'm talking about is called the north grove because it used to have 150 avocado trees growing on it.
Murf - an answer to an earlier question of yours - On another area of the property I hand dug a small terrace that gave me a 4' drop but did not need to use any thing to retasin it as there is a lot of clay in the decomposed granite soil, probably more than half. the only place on the property there is a wall is at the driveway level at the bottom of a 50' bank, the wall is 6'. I dont understand the ratio of degrees to a perticular percentage.
I now dont think I want some big formal terracing look, I live in a very rural area and want it to look naturally terraced. How can I get this effect?
Tom, Yes Tom your Plan does sound quite elabourate. Run off is not a problem. Is there any way that you could give me a very rough estimate of how huch something like this would cost if I were to hire it done. Course I do have my whole life to figure this one out - the kids are all gone and moved out of state ie no grandkids to watch or basbysitting to do, or, or, or.
Thanks Thanks Thanks!!!






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 05-28-2003, 13:25 Post: 55798
Murf



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Reberta, first of all, your assumption is correct, Murf = Murphy, Ted Murphy actually.

In order of the points you raised.

No, exact measurements are not necessary, but knowing what your up against is.

Yes, there is a fairly easy way to figure out grades, degrees is probably the easiest. Take a long straight piece of wood (2x4 works fine) and lay it on the slope, in the direction of the slope, and put a small bubble level, commonly called a torpedo level, next to it and adjust it to level and trace the intersection on the 2x4. A protractor from a child's math set will give you the degree of slope, being the angle difference between the top of the 2x4 and the pencil line.

The work COULD be done with your equipment, but it would be a big job, and complicated work like that on a slope to boot is not for the faint of heart, or begginers, IMHO. If YOU feel comfortable with tackling it slowly and cautiously then by all means, GO GIRL!

The big problem is the slope, wheeled machines with a relatively high center of gravity are the most difficult, you would normally want a tracked excavator for this type of job, both because they are a lot more stable, but also because they are SO much faster.

I have no CLUE what equipment cost are in 'your neck of the woods' or how many cubic yards of material is involved (time = money), since I don't know how drastic a change you want to achieve. I can however, tell you that any reputable contractor will be glad to come out and discuss the job with you, if you tell them straight out you are shopping for a ballpark price, and that you are willing to do the 'trim' or finishing work.

The other approach is to do it in phases, or tell them they can do it as 'fill in' work, lots of times there is a couple of days between jobs, or when a job is held up waiting for something. It is amazing what one of these machines can accomplish in a day, especially when it is working solo and does not have to wait for dump trucks, etc. Most contractors are happy to work on a "T&M" (time & materials) basis, if you tell them you have enough money for two days (as an example) machine time, they will do that much work, you can always do more later as money allows.

Another option that may be if one of your local contractors is doing a job near you, and they need a place to dump excess fill, you can make a horse trade, you take their fill, which will reduce the slope, they put a machine in to fix the rest of the slope up.

As for the soil type, you couldn't really ask for better soil for this type of work.

Sorry for the length of this post, but it's not a simple job.

Best of luck.






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