I recently decided to do some
backyard landscaping that involved a great deal of excavating. More
specifically, I decided to level out my backyard by shuffling around some
large granite boulders and trucking in 120 yards of clean fill and 50 yards
Originally my backyard consisted of two major levels. Unfortunately it
divided my backyard evenly into two relatively useless areas. Both had lawn,
however if you were not careful in paying attention where you walked, you
could find yourself almost falling off of a cliff.
This two tier backyard situation also
created a danger when using the riding lawnmower. If not careful, you could
easily cause the riding lawnmower to roll and flip if it was driven too near the
So I decided to pursue landscaping and excavation contractor quotes for filling
in the lower level of my backyard to create one gently sweeping landscaped area.
I contacted three contractors. One contractor was a pure landscaping contractor.
Needless to say his quote was
extremely high, but I have to admit he was promising a lot. The second
contractor I brought in was a large excavating contractor, who did a lot of
municipal projects. Unfortunately he wound up not bidding on the project due to
the fact that his equipment was too big to get around the side of my home.
The third contractor was the charm.
This contractor was a residential excavation contractor whose work mainly
focused on leach field and foundation installations.
He also had the right size equipment,
a 10 yard dump truck and a Kubota compact excavator, that allowed him to get
into tight areas and still do the heavy work. In addition, because he was more
focused on trucking in the fill and loam, compacting it, and coarsely spreading
out the loam, his quote was much more reasonable.
In addition, his compact excavator
was also large enough to bury the large boulders (1-2 cubic yards each) in the
side of the hill, prior to bringing in the fill.
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Yes, I did have to rake the loam, plant the grass seed, and lay down the straw,
but it only took one afternoon and I saved a bundled compared to the landscape
contractor quote. In addition, I felt like the excavation contractor better
understood what I was looking to do, and had the proper tools and materials. For
example, the lower area had the tendency to be spongy.
As a result, he used
clean fill that consisted heavily of sand to allow for proper drainage in this
low area. He then applied 4-5 inches of loam on top of the fill to complete the
Today the backyard is immensely improved. The backyard gently meanders down to a
brook and the new grass is beginning to poke up through the straw. In a couple
of more weeks I should be able to remove the straw to expose the new and
expansive backyard lawn.
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