Monday, October 6, 2014

Dishing the Dirt

As you can now tell once you opened this post, it was more shoveling than dishing. What you are looking at is 20 tons of black river bottom dirt that I shoveled and moved around be wheel barrow. As you can expect, my body is paying the price so I'm taking today off to write about it and to do a few other non-physical errands. The two plots of dirt along the front of the house are slated to be covered in landscape cloth followed by several inches of river rock. In that, we will plant some permanent vegetation for landscaping and also separate out a few areas (which will be mulched instead) where my wife can mix and match annuals and other things as her heart desires. I hate that landscape cloth but it since we only had clay underneath after we got done ripping out the old landscaping, I needed to backfill with some good soil so we can actually get plants to thrive there. The previous owners never did that step planting the plants right in the clay where they looked as tortured as they probably were. With all that soil now for weeds to grow in, I needed a barrier to help control them. The drawbacks for the landscape fabric is that people never put enough mulch on top so that it shows, catches in the wind and otherwise looks ugly. Also it makes it hard for people such as my wife who like to plant new things on a yearly basis. So by making defined areas where she can do that without the landscape fabric and containing it to stuff that will hopefully be planted just once, we found a compromise that will hopefully work out for us.

We opted to have someone who does this for a living quote out designing the layout and since the services were essentially free, we had them throw in quoting doing everything turnkey. (Technically it was $100 to have then do this but since we are buying the plants from them, they are taking that $100 off our purchase price.) The quote came back about what I expected, astronomically high. To back fill the soil into the beds, along the sidewalk and driveway and to see it down with grass would have cost us $2000. I had the soil delivered, spent a day and a half moving it around and seeding it down with grass seed for almost a fourth that price. Although not quite as good a deal, by doing the rest of the landscaping ourselves, we will save about two-thirds of what they wanted to do it. Since I don't really need any specialty tools other than a strong back and a shovel to do most of it, I opted to save the money for another project down the road where I may not have the required tools or ability.

The picture below gives you a good idea of the fill that was built up before they built the house. I'm guessing the corner of my garage that settled three inches, sits on about six feet of fill. I seeded parts of the backfill along the driveway a couple days ago after spreading out 4 tons of the dirt. Now that I got the other 16 tons spread, I need to go back and see the rest but I think I'll wait another day and let my back, arms, legs and shoulders heal just a bit.


Anonymous said...

Might I suggest you hit it with a whacking plate on slow rev's if it's still dry, for the uncompressed soil will turn to mud or even liquefy and run off down a slope.
Tough job shifting soil, best stick a pod in your eat and zone out.

Ed said...

Vince - This was actually written some time ago and because we had a ten day forecast of no precipitation, I just seeded it down and kept it well watered. It stayed in place and grows grass now.