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View Full Version : Customer wants to level out their yard


l3randonf
12-02-2011, 08:26 PM
Normal residential lot with a huge, awkward hump in the middle of the lawn. They want the hump gone. What is the best way to knock it down and smooth things out?

What will become of the grass in the surrounding area where the dirt will lay or should the dirt be hauled away?

LindblomRJ
12-03-2011, 02:22 AM
Some pictures would be helpful. If you are cutting a hump out a skid loader with a decent bucket and perhaps some teeth on the bucket to make the initial cut.

What to do with the dirt depends on the amount and lay of the surrounding land. The last thing you want to do is screw up the drainage around the property. As in you don't want to leave any ponding or water in the basement.

Again pictures would be helpful.

ralph02813
12-03-2011, 06:16 AM
Normal residential lot with a huge, awkward hump in the middle of the lawn. They want the hump gone. What is the best way to knock it down and smooth things out?

What will become of the grass in the surrounding area where the dirt will lay or should the dirt be hauled away?

If it were me, I would get them 3 quotes each one giving me a commercial discount and have someone else do the job since I don't have the equipment - this way you remain as their yard expert, you get professional help and make a few bucks. What to do with the dirt that is removed really depends on what it is, or how good it is, if it is really nice stuff, screen out the rock and spread it around as long as it doesn't monkey with drainage.

Darryl G
12-03-2011, 08:34 AM
I would be asking myself why that hump is there. If there's an awkward hump in the middle of the lawn, it's probably there for a reason. It could be that there's a bedrock outcrop that they wanted to cover, a septic leaching field that they needed to built up or even an underground storage tank.

Smallaxe
12-03-2011, 10:40 AM
I would have to be a major size job before I would even think about bringing in a skidster.

The basic menuever is to remove the turf, rake out as much of the hump as necessary to maintain some sort of grade, and wheelbarrow away the remainder.

"Business savvy" is what needs to be considered. In the first hour of a skidster's cost vs. worker cost you are looking at least 5 times the money. 2nd hour can be reduced somewhat, but you'll never get below 2-3 to 1, and you always have lawn repair when your done that usually looks like trash...
Within a week it should look as though it has always been that way... :)

JDiepstra
12-03-2011, 11:01 AM
Define huge. Have you "probed" it? It could be the remains of a massive tree, in addition to what Darryl said. Id haul away whatever it is.

l3randonf
12-03-2011, 01:55 PM
Basically the hump in the yard is about 6 feet long and 4 feet wide and elevates over the main grade of the lawn by about a foot.

Am I supposed to scrape the turf grass off first? Should I use a tiller? A shovel? How do I attack this thing?

clydebusa
12-03-2011, 02:14 PM
:laugh:Body?

clydebusa
12-03-2011, 02:14 PM
Body? :laugh::laugh:

ArenaLandscaping
12-03-2011, 02:15 PM
Basically the hump in the yard is about 6 feet long and 4 feet wide and elevates over the main grade of the lawn by about a foot.

Am I supposed to scrape the turf grass off first? Should I use a tiller? A shovel? How do I attack this thing?

Take a hand edger and edge out a 12"x12" square.

Then take a flat shovel or use the edger to pop out that piece of sod.

Put that piece of sod aside so that you can replace it if you should decide not to take out that hump.

Take a pointed shovel and carefully dig a hole so that you can see why that hump is there.

I would cut out 3 or 4 squares spaced out down the center until you find something. Or, if you have not already, ask the homeowner if they know why that hump is there.

Smallaxe
12-03-2011, 07:13 PM
Take a hand edger and edge out a 12"x12" square.

Then take a flat shovel or use the edger to pop out that piece of sod.

Put that piece of sod aside so that you can replace it if you should decide not to take out that hump.

Take a pointed shovel and carefully dig a hole so that you can see why that hump is there.

I would cut out 3 or 4 squares spaced out down the center until you find something. Or, if you have not already, ask the homeowner if they know why that hump is there.

I agree that, that is the way to go...

Way too small to bring in a skidster... 24 cu.ft. is less than a yard or about 9 wheelbarrows max., to haul away, and very possibly 1/2 of that could be raked out to level the existing lawn... :)

I'd charge 6 hrs to do it my self with a pitch fork for the sod and a pickup truck for any excess dirt... Plus an extra hour for soaking down the sod after being replaced... One day's work for one man and a truck... Not a bad estimate for a perfect finish... :)

JDiepstra
12-03-2011, 07:35 PM
I agree that, that is the way to go...

Way too small to bring in a skidster... 24 cu.ft. is less than a yard or about 9 wheelbarrows max., to haul away, and very possibly 1/2 of that could be raked out to level the existing lawn... :)

I'd charge 6 hrs to do it my self with a pitch fork for the sod and a pickup truck for any excess dirt... Plus an extra hour for soaking down the sod after being replaced... One day's work for one man and a truck... Not a bad estimate for a perfect finish... :)

U kidding me? U cant estimate anything without knowing whats under there.

Smallaxe
12-03-2011, 08:05 PM
U kidding me? U cant estimate anything without knowing whats under there.

Well obviously in real life you'd dig in and find the top of a concrete slab and say:, "Well, this changes things!!"
...but if it is just a normal squall of bad landscaping, it could easily be taken care of in 1 day...

Do we need to micromanage every aspect of a bid? I was just addressing common occurances in general terms... :)

Smallaxe
12-03-2011, 08:14 PM
U kidding me? U cant estimate anything without knowing whats under there.

Imagine coming on site with a skidster and scraping over the top of a septic cover... :laugh:

Do LCO's even have that type of screwup???

JDiepstra
12-03-2011, 08:36 PM
I didnt mean for my response to come across so harsh. I just sayin, use caution when giving estimate advice on unknowns!

thunderthud
12-03-2011, 09:18 PM
Imagine coming on site with a skidster and scraping over the top of a septic cover... :laugh:

Do LCO's even have that type of screwup???

CSB time.

I was doing a sewer interceptor job and there was a LCO doing the lawn for a homeowner near my office trailer. I kept hearing the sound of metal on metal with every pass.

I went out to look and say the skid steer operator running the bucket up the gas line to the house over and over again wondering why he wasn't making a deeper cut. The gas line was really shallow, but it held up to the weight of a Bobcat running the length of the pipe.

Stupidly, I ran over and stopped him before he blew us all up. Standing in front of his machine I realized I was straddling a weakened gas line and promptly made a retreat to call Boston Gas.

So, yes, they are.

I'd do a little hand digging before I operated on Quasimodo.

Smallaxe
12-04-2011, 07:12 AM
CSB time.

I was doing a sewer interceptor job and there was a LCO doing the lawn for a homeowner near my office trailer. I kept hearing the sound of metal on metal with every pass.

I went out to look and say the skid steer operator running the bucket up the gas line to the house over and over again wondering why he wasn't making a deeper cut. The gas line was really shallow, but it held up to the weight of a Bobcat running the length of the pipe.

Stupidly, I ran over and stopped him before he blew us all up. Standing in front of his machine I realized I was straddling a weakened gas line and promptly made a retreat to call Boston Gas.

So, yes, they are.

I'd do a little hand digging before I operated on Quasimodo.

That is a good story... all it needed was the homeowner stepping outside for a smoke... :laugh:

ArenaLandscaping
12-04-2011, 07:18 AM
CSB time.

I was doing a sewer interceptor job and there was a LCO doing the lawn for a homeowner near my office trailer. I kept hearing the sound of metal on metal with every pass.

I went out to look and say the skid steer operator running the bucket up the gas line to the house over and over again wondering why he wasn't making a deeper cut. The gas line was really shallow, but it held up to the weight of a Bobcat running the length of the pipe.

Stupidly, I ran over and stopped him before he blew us all up. Standing in front of his machine I realized I was straddling a weakened gas line and promptly made a retreat to call Boston Gas.

So, yes, they are.

I'd do a little hand digging before I operated on Quasimodo.

You should have asked that LCO if he has ever heard of "DIG SAFE":hammerhead: http://www.digsafe.com/

LindblomRJ
12-04-2011, 07:52 AM
You should have asked that LCO if he has ever heard of "DIG SAFE":hammerhead: http://www.digsafe.com/

Before bringing probe shovel or spade to this mound. Make for sure that all the utilities are located.

ArenaLandscaping
12-04-2011, 08:10 AM
Before bringing probe shovel or spade to this mound. Make for sure that all the utilities are located.

Yeah, I should have mentioned that earlier! There is a big difference between digging with a machine or digging with a hand shovel.

LindblomRJ
12-04-2011, 08:48 AM
Yeah, I should have mentioned that earlier! There is a big difference between digging with a machine or digging with a hand shovel.

Yeah. if you hit a live wire it zaps just the same.

ArenaLandscaping
12-04-2011, 08:56 AM
Yeah. if you hit a live wire it zaps just the same.

lol, good point!!

LindblomRJ
12-04-2011, 08:59 AM
lol, good point!!

Having worked on water mains attempting to locate curb stops and service taps you become really careful too.

Darryl G
12-04-2011, 11:55 AM
OK, well I wouldn't call 6 feet x 4 feet huge. Again, chances are that it's there for a reason. Often times the solution is to disguise it if removal isn't an option, which I suspect is the case here.

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 12:12 PM
I agree that, that is the way to go...

Way too small to bring in a skidster... 24 cu.ft. is less than a yard or about 9 wheelbarrows max., to haul away, and very possibly 1/2 of that could be raked out to level the existing lawn... :)

I'd charge 6 hrs to do it my self with a pitch fork for the sod and a pickup truck for any excess dirt... Plus an extra hour for soaking down the sod after being replaced... One day's work for one man and a truck... Not a bad estimate for a perfect finish... :)

Or do it in an hour with a skidsteer. You could weedwhack with a sicklebar too, or mow with a reel mower. mulch with five gallon buckets instead of a wheelbarrow.

Smallaxe
12-04-2011, 12:38 PM
Or do it in an hour with a skidsteer. ...

What a mess... What do your lawns look like that running over them with a skidster is no big deal???

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 01:01 PM
What a mess... What do your lawns look like that running over them with a skidster is no big deal???

I dont want to teach you too much about this business but do you guys have plywood in wisconsin? ever hear of it? ORRRRR if you are repairing the yard anyways you plan for a little bit more loam to fix any marks you would make. In this particular case....I would probably use the plywood. If you know how to run a skidsteer properly you can probably just fluff the matted grass with a spring rake. What does your lawn operation look like if you are trying to do everything with a pitchfork and shovel...lol???

I am betting you dont own one. Good luck with your pitchfork. We will stick to being efficient and doing a way better job.

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 01:06 PM
You should have asked that LCO if he has ever heard of "DIG SAFE":hammerhead: http://www.digsafe.com/

This is the key....hand shovel or machine.....I mean it's free. You might as well use it.

ArenaLandscaping
12-04-2011, 01:11 PM
If you know how to run a skidsteer properly you can probably just fluff the matted grass with a spring rake.

or a backpack blower..........

Patriot Services
12-04-2011, 01:25 PM
I'm sure glad this isn't a big job. You could of had the check cashed by now.
Posted via Mobile Device

Smallaxe
12-04-2011, 01:32 PM
I dont want to teach you too much about this business but do you guys have plywood in wisconsin? ever hear of it? ORRRRR if you are repairing the yard anyways you plan for a little bit more loam to fix any marks you would make. In this particular case....I would probably use the plywood. If you know how to run a skidsteer properly you can probably just fluff the matted grass with a spring rake. What does your lawn operation look like if you are trying to do everything with a pitchfork and shovel...lol???

I am betting you dont own one. Good luck with your pitchfork. We will stick to being efficient and doing a way better job.

24 sq ft of sod to lift up and put back down... does your bucket pick it up at a 3/4" thickness of 1/2" thickness...?

I like to just level out humps in the lawn by raking it up as far as the plywood then drive in with the bucket and scoop out the excess. then flatten it all down with the bucket and leave the compacted results as level as a bobcat can make it...
Then roll out my 24 sq ft of sod...

:laugh: It is more efficient than 9 wheelbarrows... :laugh:

I see your lawns everywhere all the time... Big Boy Toys for 24 sq ft... Unbelieveable...

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 01:35 PM
24 sq ft of sod to lift up and put back down... does your bucket pick it up at a 3/4" thickness of 1/2" thickness...?

I like to just level out humps in the lawn by raking it up as far as the plywood then drive in with the bucket and scoop out the excess. then flatten it all down with the bucket and leave the compacted results as level as a bobcat can make it...
Then roll out my 24 sq ft of sod...

:laugh: It is more efficient than 9 wheelbarrows... :laugh:

I see your lawns everywhere all the time... Big Boy Toys for 24 sq ft... Unbelieveable...

It's only a 5k square foot lawn....bring the scotts reel mower. I see lawn jockeys like you everywhere all the time. Ford ranger and a pushmower...think they know it all. Its not the square footage....its the cubic footage. I'm done teaching for the day.

Do you own a skidsteer? I can see why you would be intimidated by them if you have never run them. Most actually weigh less than a 1 ton dump.

Hi mr mulch supplier. We only need two yards today, we are gonna shovel it on.

Hello mr paver supplier. we only need 1 pallet today, i think we will hand load it.

Hi mr topsoil man. We only need 1 yard....leave that loader parked.

Hi mr bankruptcy lawyer....why is my business broke.

WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER....you can borrow that.

ArenaLandscaping
12-04-2011, 01:47 PM
Lawn Jockey.........http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawn_jockey

Smallaxe
12-04-2011, 01:49 PM
I remember watching one of those home improvement programs in which they had to move top soil to or from a backyard with narrow access down a hill along side the house.

Now I know these shows are sponsored by the company that makes these mini-excavators but this guy was going around the house with a bucket full of dirt about the size of a half wheelbarrow and turning the trail to mud with it...

I thought it would be funny to do a Benny Hill spoof and show wheelbarrows whizzing by as he's crawling along the ground with his teaspoon of dirt... It really was embarrassing... :)

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 01:52 PM
I remember watching one of those home improvement programs in which they had to move top soil to or from a backyard with narrow access down a hill along side the house.

Now I know these shows are sponsored by the company that makes these mine-excavators but this guy was going around the house with a bucket full of dirt about the size of a half wheelbarrow and turning the trail to mud with it...

I thought it would be funny to do a Benny Hill spoof and show wheelbarrows whizzing by as he's crawling along the ground with his teaspoon of dirt... It really was embarrassing... :)

Mini excavators are not made for moving large amounts of material. They are made to dig. If you need to move the material around, you should load it into a truck or have a loader or skid steer on site.

I mean if you are learning the business from the DIY network than I guess I cant help you much.

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 01:55 PM
Lawn Jockey.........http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawn_jockey

My grandmother has one of those. It is worth a lot of money. I never knew until I saw one on one of those shows...forget which one, pawn stars, american pickers or something like that. I looked them up on ebay and I nearly fell over. She has one of the big ones just like the picture on the top right. Probably 4 feet tall cast iron. Different uniform though. It is exactly the same guy though. Identical

ArenaLandscaping
12-04-2011, 02:08 PM
My grandmother has one of those. It is worth a lot of money. I never knew until I saw one on one of those shows...forget which one, pawn stars, american pickers or something like that. I looked them up on ebay and I nearly fell over. She has one of the big ones just like the picture on the top right. Probably 4 feet tall cast iron. Different uniform though. It is exactly the same guy though. Identical

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Black-Americana-Concrete-Lawn-Jockey-42-Tall-/320730205880
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rare-Antique-Cast-Iron-Lawn-Jockey-1860-Version-Jocko-Statue-ORIGINAL-w-Foundry-/120820994726?pt=Architectural_Garden&hash=item1c217e12a6#ht_500wt_835
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Black-faced-Lawn-Jockey-/180767541741?pt=Architectural_Garden&hash=item2a1695c9ed#ht_500wt_1069

Darryl G
12-04-2011, 02:22 PM
This is the key....hand shovel or machine.....I mean it's free. You might as well use it.

The problem with Digsafe is that they often only mark where the utility enters private property and will not mark the route across the propety...it varies. And things like propane tanks, underground storage tanks, septic tanks and accessory lighting they will not locate at all. A trip to the city/town/county hall and interviewing the property owner as well as direct observation is often needed to complete the puzzle. I'm not saying not to use Digsafe, just to understand that just because they didn't locate it doesn't mean it isn't there. Add sewer lines to that list...they don't usually even bother to mark them out...I hit a gravity feed sewer main at a depth of 26 feet below grade once...wasn't marked.

thunderthud
12-04-2011, 02:26 PM
This is the key....hand shovel or machine.....I mean it's free. You might as well use it.

You should have asked that LCO if he has ever heard of "DIG SAFE":hammerhead: http://www.digsafe.com/

I don't ask questions when I already know the answer; and we both know the answer.

Thankfully Boston Gas arrived within 10 minutes and there was no leak, just a badly damaged pipe. This predated Keyspan, which meant it was before National Grid, so it was a while ago this happened.

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 02:35 PM
The problem with Digsafe is that they often only mark where the utility enters private property and will not mark the route across the propety...it varies. And things like propane tanks, underground storage tanks, septic tanks and accessory lighting they will not locate at all. A trip to the city/town/county hall and interviewing the property owner as well as direct observation is often needed to complete the puzzle. I'm not saying not to use Digsafe, just to understand that just because they didn't locate it doesn't mean it isn't there. Add sewer lines to that list...they don't usually even bother to mark them out...I hit a gravity feed sewer main at a depth of 26 feet below grade once...wasn't marked.

I'm not saying just dig away. You also have to look for changes in soil, crushed stone, gravel etc....orange paint in the ground but you should at least have them mark out the utilities. They mark propane around us.

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 02:37 PM
I don't ask questions when I already know the answer; and we both know the answer.

Thankfully Boston Gas arrived within 10 minutes and there was no leak, just a badly damaged pipe. This predated Keyspan, which meant it was before National Grid, so it was a while ago this happened.

Either way....that was lucky.

thunderthud
12-04-2011, 07:39 PM
Either way....that was lucky.

Imagine what ran through my head standing over the gas line in front of the Bobcat; I had a moment of clarity what the hell I was doing. Lucky is one word to describe it.

If I close my eyes I can still see exactly what the house looked like, where the cover was over the gas meter and the mismatched rim on the right front of the machine. I've broken dozens of gas lines doing utilities, it's common and not really an issue. Riding a bucket along the entire length of a gas service still makes me clench my sphincter.

nepatsfan
12-04-2011, 09:39 PM
Imagine what ran through my head standing over the gas line in front of the Bobcat; I had a moment of clarity what the hell I was doing. Lucky is one word to describe it.

If I close my eyes I can still see exactly what the house looked like, where the cover was over the gas meter and the mismatched rim on the right front of the machine. I've broken dozens of gas lines doing utilities, it's common and not really an issue. Riding a bucket along the entire length of a gas service still makes me clench my sphincter.
Haha
I know that feeling....not that situation in particular, but that knot in your stomach and chills up your spine just thinking about it.