Dirt for minor grading project

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Old 04-07-14, 08:07 AM
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Dirt for minor grading project

Hey everyone. New poster here.

I recently purchased my first home and I'm looking for some advice. One side of my house has a very minor negative grade and I'm looking to correct it this spring by improving the slop near the foundation. I don't want to have a whole load dropped into my yard so I'm looking for a few alternatives, especially since I don't need much dirt. So I just have a few questions.

1.) Can I just buy the 40lb bags of "topsoil" from the big box stores and use that, or will it retain too much moisture? I see differing opinions on exactly how much organic material is in those bags, so I'm not sure if it is suitable. "Fill dirt" doesn't appear to be sold in bags.

2.) The side with the negative grade has some landscaping with plants and a mulch bed running the length of the wall. Can I just dump the dirt on top and add another layer of mulch, or will I need to remove/rake up the mulch where I'm placing the dirt?

Thanks so much!
 
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Old 04-07-14, 08:32 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

A bag of soil doesn't go very far - that could get expensive
You can put dirt over the mulch, it will decompose. I'd probably rake up the mulch, spread the dirt, put the mulch back and then a fresh layer of mulch on top to dress it up.
 
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Old 04-07-14, 09:05 AM
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The bagged topsoil I've seen was relatively low quality and was more a manufactured product than topsoil. It seemed to be a mixture of sand and compost. At least the bagged topsoil I saw would not be good fill dirt when you want to redirect water.

How much dirt do you think you need? Check in on construction sites and see if they have fill dirt you can have. Even if you don't have a truck you can fill a bunch of 5 gallon buckets and carry them in the trunk of a car. You can probably move a couple hundred pounds of soil on each trip.
 
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Old 04-07-14, 09:18 AM
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Thanks for the quick reply.

My local store has 40lb bags (about 1 cubic foot?) for about $1.25 per bag, so I'm hoping that I can get away with buying quite a few and doing it that way. I can't really imagine needing more than a yard or two of soil (so $50-$75ish) and I'd rather not have a truck drop a load in my yard due to the the eyesore and cleanup. Are there any other options for dirt that I'm not thinking of, other than driving around with buckets looking for construction?

But what I'm also worried about is whether topsoil is an ok medium to use. That side of the house has plants, so I guess I'd want to use something suitable for them. But at the same time, I'm grading in order to improve runoff away from the foundation, so I don't want something that will easily break down or hold too much moisture.

Edit: @Pilot Dane - Funny that you suggested the exact thing above while I was typing my first response! I'm unsure of the quality of the soil. Looking at reviews online, quality seems to be very much a product of the local area. I haven't gone to my store to actually inspect, but I will before I purchase. What characteristics of the soil should I be looking for?
 
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Old 04-07-14, 11:14 AM
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Your main priority is redirecting surface water so you want something more impervious than potting soil. You want the soil to absorb water somewhat slowly so the bulk of water runs off. Most bagged "top soils" I've seen are intended more as planting mediums with lots of manufactured organic material, sand for drainage and looseness and maybe, just maybe a bit of real dirt.

Do you have a truck? Many landscape supply companies sell soil by the yard and it will probably be more dirt like than bagged products. Fill dirt is such an inexpensive product that I only see it stocked in bulk in which case you'r back to buckets in the trunk.
 
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Old 04-07-14, 11:54 AM
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Yeah, no truck. Even though I have a nice liner in my trunk, dumping a scoop of fill into my Ford Fusion probably isn't the best idea. Looks like either buckets or bagged stuff it is.

Another question - is their a minimum distance required between the siding and where the dirt meets the foundation?
 
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Old 04-07-14, 01:26 PM
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Any wood (plates, studs, etc.) must be at least 6" above the soil on the outside.

Bagged and some bagged soil does not go very far because it is "fluffed up" to break clumps for bagging and sold by volume. Even top soil delivered by truck is usually sold by volume. Get it wet and Mother Nature will compress it and it will settle.

Dick
 
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Old 04-08-14, 04:10 AM
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seems to me this is a very expensive project as planned,,, just a guess the 40#b is only 1/2cf IF that when compacted IF its even possible to compact it properly,,, you said you need a yd ? that fusion's going to get a workout
 
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Old 04-08-14, 05:18 AM
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Is there any construction going on in your neighborhood? If so maybe you could give someone a 6-pack to drop off a front end loader scoop of fill dirt.
 
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