Need help with estimate please - back fill

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Lawn-Scapes, Aug 11, 2001.

  1. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,810

    Let me start by saying I have never done any back filling, grading, etc...

    Someone called me for a quote... They recently had an asphault drive put in and it is significantly higher than the turf now. The drive way is approximately 375' long. 90% of both sides of the drive is an average of 5" above the turf. I went to a local rental shop and got a price to rent a skid steer for the day. I also got a chance to operate one for the first time and felt relatively comfortable with it. The area in which I will be working is pretty open and flat. There will be a couple of spots where I will need to hump it with a wheelbarrow.

    I know it's difficult to give your thoughts without seeing it, but anything you have to offer would be appreciated. I'm not looking to make a killing in $$$... I'm looking at making this a learning experience.

    The rental (JD 240) will cost me: $160 + 12% (insurance) + fuel + $90 for pick-up/delivery or $40 for a trailer (mine is too small).

    The price for screened topsoil will be $22 per yard delivered.

    Okay, the part I don't know...

    How much topsoil will I need? There's about 750' that will need to
    be graded out to... not sure.. about 3 feet? My guess: 20 yards

    How long do you think it will take me (the newbie) to do it?

    The big Q... How much?

    Again, any help and pointers would be appreciated. I think I know I will have to work with one end on either side and work back (dump pile and back drag) and would probably only need to fill half (one side) of the bucket because it's 60 something inches wide... right?

  2. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    Quick question before I go into detail on "how-to's"

    Do you have access to a 1 to 5 ton dump or flatbed truck?

    If so, p/u the topsoil yourself and rent a mini excavator instead of a skid steer. You can drive up the driveway with the truck, scoop right out of the truck with the mini-x and place, compact and level out the soil along the drive without much hand raking at all.

    This is the way I finish most of my paving projects. It's a lot easier.
  3. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,810


    Thanks for the response...

    Dump truck... Not off the top of my head. If I did... I don't know if I'd feel comfortable driving it up the new drive. Won't it be soft for a while with the hot temps...

    So let's say no...
  4. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    It would have been a timesaver, and I understand your concern about the new asphalt. I just wouldn't turn on it. And definetly NO SKIDSTEER ON IT!!

    As far as the skidsteer goes, Just scoop up the fill, dump it close to the edge. Pick up your bucket and dump it so the bottom is vertical. Now you can go to the edge of the drive and back blade the dirt, lowering the bucket as you go to taper it.

    You should definetly rent a plate compactor and tamp it when your done with this first step.

    It will look "rough" again after you tamp it so come back with the skid steer and in a couple of spots just dump a pile of fill and clean it up with a hard landscape rake and a flat shovel. That should do it!

    I really can't help you much with the price, sorry! All I can say is figure your regular hourly rate for your time, make sure you include the rental price in your overhead and the mark up and delivery for the topsoil that you are re-selling to the customer.

    Now for the calculations, I would go with 25 or go with 20 and be able to get another 5 or so at the drop of a dime. You'll probobly need it.

    You said 5" drop (avg) at the drive and 3' wide. So I Figured 3" 3' wide (estimate for the slope)

    750' long x 3' wide x .25' deep / 27 = approx 21 yards.

    Good Luck, and let me know if there is anything else I can help with!

    Hope this helps some, even though I can't help much with the price.
  5. RICKT761

    RICKT761 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Tom I'm going to write down a formula for figuring out how much top soil is needed . I've used this formula for years and it works very well.

    Write this down and keep it where you usually do your estimating.

    Multiply your square footage by:

    .003= 1" coverage

    .0061=2" coverage

    .0092=3" coverage

    .0123=4" coverage

    12.3 cubic yards /1000 sq.ft for 4" coverage

    You might want to add 25% material for 4" coverage and over to allow for compaction.

    I hope this is of some help.

    Rick T

    R & R Landscaping

    Elmira, N.Y.
  6. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,810

    Thanks again guido.

    It sure pays to ask questions! For some reason, I was figuring on the skid steer being parallel with the drive when dumping, but was wondering how I was goin to get the pitch (taper) right :confused:

    It makes much more sense to face the bucket towards the drive.. DUH! I can do this for most of the drive... there is one section that I will be working between the drive and a row of pines.

    Getting another 5 yards within a reasonable amount of time will be no problem.

    How long should I expect this to take me (by myself)... any idea?

  7. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    Don't hold me to any numbers, but if you have any this may help re-enforce them.

    I think with the skidsteer and the soil already delivered to the site before hand, this should take you less than an 8 hour day by yourself.

    I'll give you another couple of quick tips that may help.

    You should start at the farthest part of the job from the delivery drop point. This way if you do need more topsoil, you will be working close to the pile.

    Another thing to go along with that one. Try to get all the rough grading, compacting and placing the "finishing" piles ASAP in the to ensure that you can return the skidsteer and compactor at the on time. You don't want them to be late and eat away at your profits.

    You shouldn't even have to wheel barrow much dirt if any if you place the finish piles in convenient places (shoveling distance) from where they will be used.

    If you have to, drop one pile after compaction and spread it by hand so you can get a better feel for how far the bucketfull of soil will go. This will help you space them out better.

    Good Luck again, and let me know if you need more help!
  8. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    Will you be driving over exsiting turf? Do you need a "cut edge" to match too exsisting sod? If so, you would probably want to use a sod cutter for that and then you had better be careful driving on the turf or you are going to do more damage then you have to fix now. If you have only used this machine once...chances are you will do damage.
  9. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Just my opinion, no tamper, leave the topsoil proud. Start the job from the far end and run the edge of the drive,parallel to it. Try to get a smaller machine 4' bucket is better than a 5' bucket. You are going to seed or sod it, If sod follow kris's advice get a sod cutter. By running parallel to it you'll ruin less turf.
  10. SLSNursery

    SLSNursery LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    I agree with Paul in this case, and also with the sod cutter idea. But, unless I didn't read something thoroughly, this is your first shot at skidsteer or mini-excavator work. Taking 1/3 to 1/2 a yard of soil along the driveway at a time will require you to either turn around, or drive backwards (accurately) in order to not wreck the driveway or the existing lawn. You can't really afford to wreck the lawn, because it doesn't sound like you plan to use a harley rake, or equivalent tool for final touch-up. If you employ a small landscape tractor (Kubota B-21 for instance) you can get away with making some turns, or back up quickly without gouging the lawn or driveway.

    I would also factor for more soil, because unless the lawn grade is equally lower than the driveway for the entire run, you are going to come up short. In addition, unless you end up dumping like Guido offered (which might not work for you), a 4-5 foot wide bucket is going to make that strip a lot wider than the 3' calculation for materials.

    Bottom line - see if you can get a helper or two - temp agency? Another small contractor who is not really busy now. Estimate clearly for additional time and material, so when the customer wants to fill in here and there in addition to the original job you are prepared. Set the one or two guys up at the farthest point along the driveway, maybe one on each side, then start shuttling the material to them, so they can rake it smooth as you dump it. Every once in a while drive over the deep spots to compact the soil, but using a tamper might be more complicated that the job needs to be (although I agree with its use in principal, Guido). You should be able to spot material out along the driveway before the laborers catch up - I would bet in about 2-3 hours with a small tractor. Then help them rake it out, adjust for any more material needs, seed and go.

    Another option we have used in tighter spots on new pavement is as Guido suggested. Fill up a truck, or a trailer with a few yards at a time, then shovel it out. We've had to use a couple of guys supplying material off of the back or side of a rack body on more than one occasion. Maybe even through a couple of bodies on the ground with Wheelbarrows. We call this the 'armstrong' spreader. Because everyone's arms are stronger at the end of the day. Sometimes we use the armstrong spreader for sand/salt in the winter too!

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