Register free!

The Green Industry's Resource Center



Reply
 
Thread Tools   Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-17-2014, 02:57 AM
bcsteeve bcsteeve is offline
LawnSite Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Kelowna, BC
Posts: 15
Tackling a big project... myself

Hello. I realize this site is for the pros, and I respect that. Glad to see a homeowner section and I hope I'm not offending anyone by going DIY.

My reasons for wanting to do this myself are many, and it certainly goes beyond money (I think this will cost me more than hiring someone). I've had a few companies come look at the job... to be honest, I'm concerned that if I want it done right... well, you know the addage. It was little things like one guy saying I have too much clay (just by looking at it) when I know for a fact I have next to no clay... its almost all sand. Another suggesting my irrigation problem would be fixed by using smaller pipes and, therefore, higher pressure (Mr. Bernoulli set us straight on that almost 300 years ago). Another suggested, and I'm quoting here, that I "stop worrying so much about water [because] it's cheap". Anyone agreeing with that last one can just stop reading here.

I'm big on water conservation. Frankly, that's what got me into this mess... err... project.

Anyway, I'm happy to provide more background if necessary but I'll now attempt to get more to the point.

My yard has horrible "soil" (barely qualifies for use of that word). I sent away a soil sample and there's virtually no organic material, it is almost entirely devoid of nitrogen, and its basically 100% sand of various texture. It drains, as you'd expect, extremely rapidly. It was nice and green when we bought, but that's only because they had the sprinkler's set to run at EIGHT TIMES the amount legally allowed here.

That's the main problem I want to fix.

I realize I can ammend. The problem with that is that I'm already at the highest finished grade I want to be at. So adding any significant amount of material raises my grade too much. Sure, I could throw a 1/4" of something on there and till it... but I figure I should probably be adding a good 3" at least, right? And till that to a depth of, say, 6-8"?

So that means removing at least 3 inches. I'm OK with that, but what's the best way to go about that?

Now onto my next big issue... access.

If foresight were as acute as hindsight, I would have never bought this house simply because of poor access. I have a roughly 30% downhill grade from front to back, and at its narrowest... its only 34" wide. It *can* be wider... if I remove a tree my wife doesn't want me to remove AND remove a chainlink gate. Then its 58" at the bottom. But at the top is my natural gas meter sticking out which means its effectively 47" at the top... with a natural gas meter that would be VERY BAD to hit!. Now, if I want to get really serious, I phoned to day and was told that the gas company will (at no charge!) temporarily remove my meter for machine access... but they warned me that it still might not really help since the riser is there and that can't have heavy machinery drive over it.

OK, its not like its insurmountable, but its a headache.

So (finally, we get to the question), am I better off doing everything by hand and small machinery? Or is it worth the not insignificant headaches and get a CAT back there?


"By hand", in my head, means using a sod cutter to strip off as much as I can then break my back 90 times over as I haul that heavy load up a 50' long 30% hill to dump it into a bin and pay close to $600 to have it hauled away. I can alleviate some of the "groan" by using a power wheelbarrow or similar @ $100/day. So let's say that puts me in for a grand.

Oh, on to the next semi-important detail (and back to the part where I said I'm into water conservation). I'm reducing the amount of lawn but there will still be enough to satisfy my family's and neighbourhood association's requirements. I want to irrigate that using subsurface drip @ a depth of 6". So if I do it by machine, I suppose I can strip off 6", lay the pipe, then put new soil over it. A lot easier but higher soil costs (vs. 3 inches and tilling) and I might have interface problems unless 6" is deep enough that I don't have to worry about that. If I do it "by hand" then I'm only at 3" so I'd have to trench the remaining 3" (about 1300 feet of trenching).

Alight, this is a long enough book. How do you think you'd tackle it?

Attached is my proposed before and after. Feel free to rip it apart... I'm certainly open to criticism and ideas.
Attached Images
   
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-17-2014, 06:20 AM
JCLawn and more's Avatar
JCLawn and more JCLawn and more is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: MI
Posts: 5,072
You are cutting off more than most of want to chew. So you want to drip irrigate your lawn o.O ?
Posted via Mobile Device
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-17-2014, 06:41 AM
recycledsole recycledsole is offline
LawnSite Silver Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: MD
Posts: 2,113
Posted via Mobile Device
You could always direct the project and "hire" people to do a lot odd the Labour under your supervision, working with them. Ore maybe you can find someone on here
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-17-2014, 06:56 AM
whiffyspark whiffyspark is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Chesapeake beach
Posts: 5,521
That's what they make dingos for.
Posted via Mobile Device
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-17-2014, 09:06 AM
larryinalabama larryinalabama is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Ragland Al
Posts: 11,536
I would seek marrage counseling and make sure you have a good burial policy before starting.

The existing grass can be tilled in and doesn't have to be hauled off. Orinimantal grasses and hardy ice plant will grow good in sand. A nice Gazebo and picinic bench on gravel would fill up the back and whats left could be filled with artificial turf.

The front grass should go up to the sidewalk, unless you plan on putting up a fence. The add on walkway looks good.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-17-2014, 09:48 AM
Mickhippy's Avatar
Mickhippy Mickhippy is offline
LawnSite Gold Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Queensland, Australia.
Posts: 3,992
I would draw/paint the outline of the grassed area you will replace.
Poison everything outside of the line.
Use sod cutter and remove turf that will be replaced. Or all if you want the extra work.
Get on the square mouthed post hole shovel and painstakingly (or painfully) dig to the depth of the shovel. Should be around 7 or 8" or so.
Since your increasing the gardens I would dump all or most of the soil there and mound and shape (as much as possible anyway) That will reduce significantly how much you need to barrow around to the front. If you dig to 8", you could re spread some of your current soil, mix in some organic mater etc or till it. Basically, it would aerate, and improve the current soil. You would also need less replacement soil.

What I mean is, if you have an area say 100yd2. 50yd gets completely dug out and used in the gardens. If your soil is really bad mix in some goodness!
The other 50yds gets broken up (aerated) and improved with organic matter and spread out back over the entire 100yd2. You have kind of reduced the level by half, 3.5 to 4". (or so)
You have now improved the soil and made room for new soil. Make sense?


Then I would bring your good soil in. Spread it out to a rough level.

I would then finish off the gardens, planting, mulching and anything else you want to do. All that foot traffic, barrows etc will help firm the soil.

I would then bring more soil in for final level and then turf it.

In the end, you would only be removing the turf, all soil etc would remain on site or at least a good part of it.

If your drawings are to scale then its not a massive job. Your not digging all of it up, only the grass area you want to make lawn. Roughly 1.5 times the driveway area.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-17-2014, 09:58 AM
JCLawn and more's Avatar
JCLawn and more JCLawn and more is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: MI
Posts: 5,072
So am I the only one worried about A. How much hose needed to drip irrigate the the lawn, crushing the hose, puncturing the hose in the future with whatever, the hose working it's way up to the surface over time. Springler heads are bad enough.
Posted via Mobile Device
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-17-2014, 10:47 AM
whiffyspark whiffyspark is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Chesapeake beach
Posts: 5,521
Jc drip is fairly popular now.
Posted via Mobile Device
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-17-2014, 01:08 PM
bcsteeve bcsteeve is offline
LawnSite Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Kelowna, BC
Posts: 15
Wow, thanks for all the quick replies! I think I've come to the right place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCLawn and more View Post
You are cutting off more than most of want to chew
I'll take that as a compliment. I realize its a lot of work and I don't expect to get it done in a weekend (I took a month just doing the design!)
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCLawn and more View Post
So you want to drip irrigate your lawn o.O ?
You bet! And I suggest you do some reading on the subject. It uses far less water as it eliminates waste from wind (a big problem here) and hardscape watering when its difficult or impossible to make water spray in the pattern that matches the lawn. There are other benefits that are primarily of concern for commercial properties, so I'd think every irrigation and landscape pro would at least want to have a working knowledge of the systems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whiffyspark View Post
That's what they make dingos for.
I don't understand the reference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by recycledsole View Post
You could always direct the project and "hire" people to do a lot odd the Labour under your supervision, working with them.
Thank you. And actually, by "DIY" I don't necessarily mean "myself" for all the grunt work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryinalabama View Post
I would seek marrage counseling and make sure you have a good burial policy before starting.
Lol. I'll take that under advisement. But through your humor, I do get your point. I know I need to keep in mind this is a pretty big project for an inexperienced homeowner.
Quote:
Originally Posted by larryinalabama View Post
The existing grass can be tilled in and doesn't have to be hauled off. Orinimantal grasses and hardy ice plant will grow good in sand. A nice Gazebo and picinic bench on gravel would fill up the back and whats left could be filled with artificial turf.
I appreciate the advice, and most of it I will be incorporating. I do intend to use appropriate plantings for the area (ie. drought tollerant). I'm not sure about structures but I'll think of where/how I can use some. I will not consider artificial turf, however. In my ecological opinion, that's trading one no-no for another. Yes it uses less water, but it means that in some point in the relatively near future, I have to haul a hunk of plastic into a landfill (while technically it can be recycled... it won't be. The caveat "where facilities exist" is often ignored by people). And, it doesn't do anything to absorb GHGs or pump oxygen into the air. Turf, for all its over-use and water hogging, does still work with nature. I agree it is better to use other ground covers that are more suitable... but in this case, I have a 2 yr old that needs to play and a wife that needs to be placated, and future owners that are likely to want it... so some turf stays.

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryinalabama View Post
The front grass should go up to the sidewalk, unless you plan on putting up a fence.
Can you go further into this point? What is the concern here?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickhippy View Post
I would [...] Make sense?
Excellent post/advice Mickhippy! Thank you so much for taking the time. Yes, it makes perfect sense. What really opened my eyes with that post is that I hadn't considered shifting the "discarded" soil to the garden mounds! I hadn't really thought of it 3-dimensionally. Now I'm really glad I posted here! It's so obvious yet I wouldn't have thought about it. I developed such a disdain for my soil that I just wanted it gone. But you're absolutely right. Some of it can be used in the gardens and some of it can be used to soften the interface. You just saved me about $400 in hauling.

Last edited by bcsteeve; 07-17-2014 at 01:13 PM. Reason: grammar is a work-in-progress for me :)
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-17-2014, 02:45 PM
Regal Landscapes Regal Landscapes is online now
LawnSite Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Allentown, PA
Posts: 57
The reference about the dingo was for moving the soil and sod around. It's a small skid steer type machine that has a bucket on the front.

It would take the place of a wheelbarrow and it's rentable at a lot of places too.
Posted via Mobile Device
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump





Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©1998 - 2012, LawnSite.comô - Moose River Media
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:29 AM.

Page generated in 0.09150 seconds with 10 queries