I got a call to level out a yard but am unsure as to how.

While performing lawn care services, you are probably going to get a lot of calls for various landscape projects as well. If you haven’t yet worked on any retaining wall or fence projects, here is a relatively simple landscape project that an entrepreneur was called on to perform. Doing the job the right way will mean a lot less work on the landscaper’s part and having positive results. Doing the job the wrong way will mean more work, less pay, and a job that will rot within a few years. Let’s look into this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum to learn more.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I have a question on landscape construction. I got a call yesterday for a yard level job. The customer has an area  in his backyard that is 20′ x 60′ (1,200 sq.ft.) and needs to level it up another 2 ft next to a fence. Then he wants sod installed.

I came up with 2,900 cu.ft of soil to fill it (compacting it so it isn’t soft), along with 3 pallets of sod. I will then be installing a retaining wall made of railroad ties and rod iron to make it look pretty.

All work is going through a gate with wheel barrows since he refuses to let me pull the fence out to get a bobcat in and out. I came up with 93 yards of top soil @ $18.00/yard plus $700 in top soil from my local supplier. I will be just ordering a few truck loads.

Building a retaining wall.

Building a retaining wall.

My question is should I line the inner wall with plastic to repel moisture and insects? Or just slap the dirt against it and pat it in as tight as we can go?”

A second lawn care business owner said “with the soil that is available in your area you should add some drainage.

Line the wall with landscape fabric between the wall and the soil behind it so you would have 2 layers. In between these layers install gravel 8-12″. You want to keep the dirt out of the gravel. Have the gravel go up to about 4-6″ from the top of the finished grade. This will allow the water to drain from behind the timbers. Putting in plastic will only cause water to build up behind the timbers causing more weight to push on them.

On the outside of the wall about 3-4 inches up I would drill a weep hole about 1/2 inch diameter, into the bottom of the wall. I would say every 6 feet. This combined with the rock will let it drain out.”

A third added “I am trying to get your math to work to see how deep this will be but I can’t, 20′ X 60′ and say 12″ deep is only 45 yards.

My #1 concern would be whether the fence will hold the pressure. At 6″ or less, it would be no problem. The wall should be lined or it will rot within 5 years, that much moisture against wood simply won’t work.

Next thing is even though the area is very small, moving that much product by wheel barrow, I personally would walk away. Removing a post on the gate so that I could get equipment in is the only way I would do it personally.

The other option if I were only using top soil or very clean fill, would be to hire a slinger truck which I have done on a couple of sites that I could not get equipment into. A good slinger operator will mean next to no spreading and it’s only $65.00 per 16 yards here.”

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