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Lawn prep before filling to level

Posted by IONH313 Massachusetts (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 21:49

My backyard is sloped the wrong way and pools slightly. I would like to have some media dropped back there from a dump truck and spread it out. I think I should use some kind of drainage (crushed stone?) for the base and just a few inches (3-4?) of top soil.

At the deepest, the grade will be raised about 18 inches. This will taper out to no grade increase at all.

Do I need to till the ground before putting down the drainage material?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

Nope. It will make the ground sink below your grade due to loosened soil compacting naturally under weight even more.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

No way. The most important thing is to get the grade sloping away from your home and direct the runoff to the lowest spot of your property to move the water off your property.

Final grade away from the foundation is a minimum rate of � in. per ft over a minimum distance of 10 ft. Where limitations and setbacks prevent less than 10 ft., provide swales or drains designed to carry water away from the foundation to the lowest point on your property.

Adding anything like gravel as mentioned will cause uneven settling and a shear zone for erosion.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

You can have a yard slope the wrong way but at about 10 feet away from the house, it needs to slope the right way. Usually that means building a swale direct the water away from the building and off the premises.

Do you have a drainage professional giving you the advice to add more material? As TW said, 1/2-inch per foot out to 10 feet is about right for land sloping away from the building. If adding material will do that for you, then okay. What that means is starting at a mark 4 inches below the sill of the house, measure out 10 feet and the drop should be 5-6 inches.

Here is a picture of two swales in a neighborhood in California.

Note that the embankment slopes drastically toward the lower house but the two swales are designed to divert the water out to the street. Note also that the house behind these houses is higher still. The water flowing off of the back yard hill is diverted out to the curb by the drain you can see in the curb.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

Thank you for the comments.

I thought I needed to put some type of drainage material (e.g. gravel) for the lower part so water would drain away that way as well.

This is my backyard which is already going down at well above the 1/2 inch per foot. It is sloped to the left while the street drainage comes out on the right. There are some large rocks (ledge) coming out of the ground on the left which is why the water pools instead of continuing to my neighbor's lot.

I want to bring that side up so the water will slope toward the drainage stream on the right side.

Side note, as far as cost goes, I will be doing the work of the many yards of whatever component myself. I've moved many yards before so do not be concerned with the physical aspect. I mention cost because crushed stone is cheaper than loam.

Do you suggest I use a single material for all the fill including the top soil area? If so, what material do you suggest?

I do not know how to post pictures or I would put some up.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

I don't know your situation, but many times you can correct drainage problems by first removing the sod from the problem area. Once the sod is remove, slope the underlying dirt to make the water go to where you want it. Increase the depths to account for the sod which you are going to put back.

As I understand your problem I would remove the sod in an area about 10 feet wide though the berm that is preventing the water from running away from the house. You may also remove the sod from a strip about 5 to 8 feet wide along the house. Use the dirt that you remove to create the swale, to provide the file dirt next to the house, If down right the water will drain from both ends of the house to he swale or swales. and out to where it is suppose to flow.

Once you have the grades the way you want them replace the sod water and in month no one will see your project.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

My backyard is about 60 feet wide and the right side is at the proper height as the street drainage comes out next to it. I cannot lower the right side or the street drainage may back up into the lawn during heavy rains.

The only option is to raise the left side about 2-2.5 feet so it can slope down to the right from the left.

I will try to post some pictures soon. I've avoided the angles which would show what I am talking about in the pictures I have right now.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

Any idea of how many yards of dirt you are talking about?


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

I don't know how much fill I will need. I had 15 yards delivered once for a project when I was leveling my front yard and it was probably 2 yards too much.

That said, I think this will take more than that and the place I ordered from in the past's largest truck is 15 yards.

What material should I use for fill and at what interval should I roll it, I have a tow behind roller.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

I really need to see a picture. The description is more confusing. Did you try using the image file upload in the Post a Follow-Up form? Otherwise there are numerous posts about how to include images in your post.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

Now that you can see my yard below, I will be clearing out between the water feature (manufactured stone blocks) and the ledge on the right. The water feature is actually hiding a ledge as tall as it is behind it.

The water feature is level and the blocks are about 8 inches tall. This gives you an idea of the elevation change from where it starts to where it ends. I had done some digging when I put in the water feature which is where the mound at the far back left came from.

My goal for this thread is to bring the grade up about 2.5 stones at the right side of the water features and go straight across.

I will clear out the stump (it's not attached to the ground, was just placed there) as well as the logs between so I can raise the grade a ways back and eventually put a shed between the water feature and the right ledge.

Sorry it took me a while to get pictures. I have attached them below. You can click any thumbnail, then it will open larger. You can then click that picture and it will open even larger.

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More advice is appreciated.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

By the way, I do not plan on touching the swale closer to the fence. I do plan on grinding those 3 stumps one of these years and rebuilding the swale in the same position to keep water from potentially pooling at the fence.

Ultimately, the entire slope will be toward the back right. In the pictures, if you look at where the fence ends at the back of the yard, that is actually a drainage stream from the street so that is where the water from the yard should end up.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

Maybe those picture explain why I was having trouble. It looks like the yard drains correctly. What do you want to fix?

Back to your first question, I would use more topsoil than you are thinking. In fact I would use all topsoil or sand for the fill - even for the base. And no, you do not need to rototill first.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

You suggest it drains correctly while it pooled on the left at the back prior to my small fill, now it pools slightly ahead of that mound? I don't think that is correct.

As I mentioned. the man made drainage is at the back right of my lot. Why shouldn't the land be manufactured to slope in that direction?


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

Yes if there is a gap, you can fill it with soil or sand.
But if it is good for ground. The above pictures of ground are in bad condition.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

What do you mean by 'gap'?

It is winter here and there wasn't any snow at the time. That explains why it looks a bit poor in condition. In the summer, it is pretty lush and green.

I think I got the answers I needed. Do not rototil first and put in regular dirt, not crush stone then dirt.


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RE: Lawn prep before filling to level

I mean to say that fill it with sand and soil. It is in very bad condition. Why don't you take an advice of a expert .


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