Grading my backyard


Old 07-22-04, 08:32 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 23
Grading my backyard

I have a 5000sf back yard with the home I recently purchased and have stripped it of all vegetation, tree stumps, etc. (going to put down sod) So now I have a dirt lot but with lots of undulations, holes and the yard slopes about 5 inch in 30ft toward the house. I am thinking of building a 6-8 inch small retaining wall around the perimeter and pulling 2.5 inches of dirt across the yard to level it. Right now the only thing I have to do this with is a landscaper's rake. I already almost did myself in taking out 3 tons of concrete patio with a sledge so I am looking for some power equipment.

Any suggestions on power equiment that I may be able to rent at my local yard to move a lot of dirt and prep for sod? I have only called 1 rental yard so far and he only suggested a Bobcat with a bucket.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Huntington Beach, CA
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Old 07-23-04, 12:23 AM
cheese's Avatar
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Hello SurfCityUSA!

A bobcat sounds reasonable. A small tractor with a box blade would be better, I think. A heavy duty lawn and garden tractor with a small box blade would probably do the job as well, with more time invested.
Old 07-23-04, 07:23 AM
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I was unsure of the slope. Is it highest at the house? In my corner of the world we have a few iches of topsoil over clay. We always run a slope away from the foundation to keep water draining away from the house. In sunny Cal. you probably don't have that problem. Cheese's equipment recommendations sound good.
Old 07-23-04, 07:51 AM
bontai Joe's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
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If you are gonna rent something to work in a 5000 sq. ft area (a small space to work a big machine in) I'd go with small and powerfull to get the job done in a day. A skid loader sounds good and quick, but a fair amount money. A BIG walk behind tiller to loosen the soil would be a plus as a small Bobcat can't reall break loose hardpacked soil much. The cheapest way to go would be a big tiller and a rake, or if you know someone with a big Troy-Bilt with the optional front blade. Or if your Home Depot is like the ones in my area, you can hire day laborers early in the morning in the front parking lot, to help you out. Might be cheaper to hire a strong back or two than a machine? And the money helps someone less fortunate get through another day.
Old 07-25-04, 03:45 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 23
Thanks for the replys.

I see from my wording I needed to clarify the grade. Yes, it slopes down into the house. We don't get that much rain, but I am concerned that just normal watering may cause problems. We have a "real and bonified" problem in Huntington Beach with "soil expansion" and if water is not drained away from the foundation, the soil will sink and thus the dreaded foundation cracks will occur. When buying homes a few years ago, we came across a few that were dirt cheap because the entire house was tilted. They became "tear downs" for those who were will to deal with it.

All my rental yards recommend the bobcat, cause that's all they have. I have used Home Depot labor before but it can be a hassle sometimes. Makes my wife nervous also.

Thanks again,
Huntington Beach, CA
Old 07-25-04, 07:13 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Manitoba
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A Bobcat makes a fairly poor landscaping machine.
They are referred to as a skid-steer loader and everytime you change direction it locks up the wheels on one side and grinds away at the surface.

The best suggestion is a tiller to loosen the soil and then using a large drag rake to smooth it out.

You may be able to hire someone with a small tractor mounted tiller for not too much money to do this for you.
Locally we have a couple of retirees who have gotten bored and have purchased some expensive equipment to play with.
One guy charges $100.00 to do a small yard or garden and it doesn't matter how long it takes.
You can make a drag with some 4x4 lumber and ropes to pull behind a small tractor or even a quad if you know someone who has one.

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