How hard is it to grade a yard for new sods?

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  #1  
Old 08-06-18, 03:14 PM
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How hard is it to grade a yard for new sods?

I'm thinking about rental a skid steer and grade my own back yard. I have never driven a skid steer. How hard is it to do it my self? I will be getting some topsoil delivered to my drive way and use the skid steer to haul these top soil to my backyard. Another thing I'm concerning about is the space to have the top soil sit on. I wonder if a two car garage drive way is enough for a 90 cubic yard top soil. And will the drive way hold 90 cubic yard of top soil?
 
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  #2  
Old 08-06-18, 03:34 PM
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Driving a skid steer is a lot of fun. You must be careful as they are powerful machines. If you bump into something that something will be broken. You probably won't hurt the skid steer but a slight bump into the house will damage the house. So, in the beginning practice out in the open where there is nothing to hit.

Wear the seat belt and have it tight at first. Skid steers are easy to tip. It doesn't hurt anything but it can be startling if you don't expect it.

Getting your topsoil spread in an even layer and smooth enough for sod requires skill. You might find that renting the machine and your slow progress while learning to operate it could end up costing more than hiring a professional to do it for you. But, that's not as much fun. Personally, I recommend renting the machine and have some fun learning to operate it.
 
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Old 08-06-18, 03:42 PM
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I wonder if a two car garage drive way is enough for a 90 cubic yard top soil. And will the drive way hold 90 cubic yard of top soil?
How long is your driveway and how wide?
 
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Old 08-06-18, 04:08 PM
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My two garage drive way is 22.5' by 36'. This does not include the side walk and the section between the road and side walk space as I don't know if I use this space on my drive way.
 
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Old 08-06-18, 05:38 PM
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So your driveway is exactly 810 SqFt, and since the 90 CuFt of TopSoil equates to 2430 CuFt (90 X 27), then that's covering your entire driveway with exactly 3 Feet of Topsoil (2430 810); but that's without leaving any route from the street to the garage.

What are they delivering, Five 18 CuFt Truckloads ? . . . . but not all at once, Right ?

How large is the yard that you're going to distribute this Topsoil on ?
 
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Old 08-06-18, 06:47 PM
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I wonder if a two car garage drive way is enough for a 90 cubic yard top soil
How did you come up with needing so much dirt?
 
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Old 08-07-18, 05:51 AM
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How did you come up with needing so much dirt?
I had landscapers come over and give an estimate on how much it'll cost for grading my backyard. Some said it require anywhere from 100 to 114 cubic yard. I'm still not sure why I would need that much either. It looks like my backyard already have some topsoil. I think all I need is some top soil to fill in some valleys so that it's not too bumpy.
 
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Old 08-07-18, 05:58 AM
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Don't forget that what you have there now can be re-graded. We can't see your yard but most often you work with what you have there already.
 
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Old 08-07-18, 06:20 AM
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What are the dimensions of your back yard?
 
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Old 08-07-18, 06:20 AM
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To minimize some of the cost, I was wondering if I can just use a skid steer grading attachments to go through my backyard first and if I still need top soil, I can purchase some later.
 
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Old 08-07-18, 07:35 AM
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And how hard can it be to provide the dimensions of the parcel under discussion ?
 
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Old 08-07-18, 07:46 AM
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The backyard is approx. 6660 sq ft.
 
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Old 08-07-18, 08:06 AM
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90 cubic yards of topsoil will provide a depth of approximately 4 inches over 6660 sq. ft.

Yes, you could rent a skid steer loader with attachments and grade the yard.
 
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Old 08-07-18, 08:23 AM
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That 80' X 80' backyard reminds me that I once re-graded a small front yard by hand back in 1972 using just my eye-ball . . . . accompanied by a wheelbarrow and a shovel.

I had 10 yards of rotted horse manure delivered from Suffolk Downs Horserace Track, which I spread evenly and graded by hand, followed by my seeding (50% annual rye) again by hand, followed 10 yards of Topsoil that I spread over the seeded area again by wheelbarrow and shovel. Took just one week-end plus my keeping it dampened until the Ryegrass sprouted a few days later.

Did okay . . . . but I was 46 years younger then (and it was my front yard, so I was under the watchful eye of neighbors and needed to do a very quick job that was both good and appeared to be "effortless").
 
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Old 08-07-18, 08:51 AM
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To determine if I need top soil added or not, what's the proper thickness of the top soil for new sod/seed is require?
 
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Old 08-07-18, 09:11 AM
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It really depends entirely on what is the quality of the existing soil at the site and what is your goal with the finished lawn. If it's not too hard and somewhat well drained you really don't need any top soil. If it's very clay or very sandy you'll want quite a bit of top soil. Further if you want a golf course perfect lawn, you'll want a thicker layer very well graded; however if you just want some grass, an inch or so would probably be just fine.

As a side note make sure that you generously slope away from the house in all directions. Foundation fill usually settles and you want to compensate for that so you don't have water problems in a couple years.

Agreed that the skid steer option will be a lot more fun. :-)
 
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Old 08-07-18, 09:39 AM
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Awesome! Thank you so much for all the help and suggestions.
 
  #18  
Old 08-07-18, 09:44 AM
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To determine if I need top soil added or not, what's the proper thickness of the top soil for new sod/seed is require?

First off, you dont need top soil if you are just grading the yard, you only need "dirt" if you have low areas that need to be filled.

You dont really need top soil for sod (assuming you are not laying over solid clay) since sod sort of comes with some dirt.

Grass may need a little more soft material so the roots can grab into something but seed is pretty resilient.

I think you need to determine if you need dirt for grading,leveling, and filling more than for the sod!
 
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Old 08-07-18, 10:02 AM
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Marq1, currently my backyard is filled with weeds and other vegetation (some are knee high already). I assumed that means I already have some good soil. The reason I'm hesitated about adding more top soil is that I want to slope it off from my house and it already has a good drain on my back yard. If not, I would have noticed over the last year or so. So, perhaps I should start by measuring and confirming my current soil then.
 
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Old 08-07-18, 12:30 PM
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You want all the grass and weeds dead before you do sod so you don't have weeds coming up through your new lawn. About 2-4 weeks before you intend to do any grading or sod preparation I would spray the entire area with herbicide to kill everything. Something containing glyphosate is most common. Roundup is a popular one but there are many other brands. Spray it then hit it again in about two weeks to make sure everything is dead.
 
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Old 08-07-18, 12:37 PM
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About 2-4 weeks before you intend to do any grading or sod preparation I would spray the entire area with herbicide to kill everything. Something containing glyphosate is most common. Roundup is a popular one but there are many other brands. Spray it then hit it again in about two weeks to make sure everything is dead.
Thank you so much for this suggestion. I've not thought of that yet, very helpful!
 
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Old 08-15-18, 09:11 AM
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Another question I have is power lines, gas lines, telephone/communication lines. Even if the Diggers Hotline mark the in-ground lines, how deep should I only till my soil? What are some cautions I should take when I'm working close to these in-ground lines?
 
  #23  
Old 08-15-18, 09:42 AM
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The unknown is if your lawn has been re-graded since those utilities were installed. There are code minimum burial depths for gas and power lines that put them deep enough (12"+) that you don't have to worry when rototilling. If someone has cut a ditch or re-contoured your yard after the utilities were installed then the burial depth could be different. The older a house is the more concerned you need to be and hand dug test holes are the only way to know for certain.

Telephone and phone lines going to your house can be quite shallow, in some cases as little as 6". One method is to just till as you want and then have the lines fixed if you hit them. Or, you can carefully hand dig as several points along each utility to see how deep they are. Be aware that some tree roots can look very similar to CATV coax.
 
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Old 08-15-18, 11:04 AM
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Thanks for the response.

Looks like Diggers Hotline is not going to mark private lines. The previous owner must have installed an electrical light and outlet to their garden. Is there a way to find this electrical line? I guess I can find out where it goes into our breaker and turn that off.
 
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Old 08-15-18, 12:35 PM
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That is correct. 811, No Cuts and others only mark utilities to the home. Anything run from the home like electricity to an outside light or gas line to a patio grill is not. There are detectors that can find buried lines. Anyone with a detector will likely charge $75+ just for a service visit to come out. I'd turn off the breaker to those outside items and prepare your lawn. If you don't hit the line then everything's OK. If you do hit it then decide if it's worth fixing or disconnect it from the breaker panel and forget about it.
 
  #26  
Old 08-20-18, 05:52 PM
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Okay, so I decided to rent a skid steer to grade it myself. That brings me to another question I have. How do I refuel the skid steer? The rental service told me I must use diesel fuel; however, do I need to have special container just for diesel fuel? Or, can I use any regular gasoline container and fill that with diesel fuel to refuel the skid steer?
 
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Old 08-21-18, 05:51 AM
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I have yellow diesel fuel containers. I will not tell you that it's OK to put diesel in an improperly labeled container but if you do make sure the container is empty and clean.

Depending on how much you will use the machine you might not need to refuel it. They typically can go a full day without refueling. If you are picking up and returning the machine you can fill it up on your way to return the machine.

NEVER let a diesel run out of fuel. Some machines require a bleeding procedure to get the fuel system working again if it's been run dry. It's a messy hassle easily avoided by simply not letting it run out of fuel.
 
  #28  
Old 08-21-18, 07:13 AM
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Pilot Dane, thank you so much for the warning about not letting the machine run dry. The rental guy told me it runs for 8 hours.
 
  #29  
Old 08-24-18, 08:45 AM
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Okay, so I ran into a what looks like a power line. There is no power on the line and it seems to be coming from over my neighbor's side. In this case, what should I do? Can I just simply put in a wire nut and bury it down into the ground again?
 
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Old 08-24-18, 10:05 AM
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You never know what you'll find when you dig. Did any circuit breakers in your house trip? If not then the wire might have been abandoned years ago. If you don't know where it coming from or where it's going I certainly wouldn't try fixing it. Cap it off and bury it. If you want to remove it tie it to the bucket of the skid steer and lift straight up to pull it straight up out of the ground.
 
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