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Using Ledge as Fill?

Posted by littlebeemama none (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 1, 13 at 0:30

I'm looking to level our backyard. There is a house a few streets down where the builder is blasting ledge.

He is offering to give us the ledge for "free", if we pay for his services for delivery and to build us a riprap wall. He is going to then add 3" of loam on top of the ledge fill.

Is this a good idea? Part of me worries that the ledge will create too many large airpockets, so that the ledge will eventually come to the top. Am I better off using a finer substance as the base layer, such as gravel or sand?

Would welcome any advice on this!

Thanks so much!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

What will this filled in area be used for? 3 inches of soil will be to little soil for even a sodded lawn. Whether there will be any air pockets in the stone fill will depend on the size of the stones dumped in there.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

Your concern is valid. If you place a fine textured soil on top of coarse rock, the soil will, over time, settle and wash to fill the pore space of the rock.

What would be suitable fill depends upon a number of variables - depth of fill, how the fill area meets or matches with the surrounding area (are you filling a depression, creating a plateau that ends in a wall,...), what's the texture and makeup of the ground over which the fill will be placed, and the surrounding grade that has to be matched on top, drainage and water flow, and what you intend to do or grow on the final filled grade. If you plan any lasting plantings, 3" is too little soil for about everything green.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

As already stated,not enough information. Hauling is 90% of material cost when it is being moved for other reasons such as this case. You save very little to settle for less than preferred material.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

Kinda depends on the size and shape of the broken rock, too. The term 'ledge' is not very descriptive by itself.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

drill & blast rubble is usually mostly pretty large chunks, with small bits included. I got my first looks at how it's done in CO to excavate for house foundations about 4 years ago. When the ground is predominantly hard rock, it is the efficient way to excavate.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 2, 13 at 14:21

If you have a ditch in your backyard that is two feet deep, then you could put rock rubble in there, and cover with 6 or 8 inches of topsoil. That would improve drainage, and allow for growing a lawn in that area. Rock fill is ideal for improving drainage, so it has a place in landscape design. That does not mean it is appropriate for your back yard, however.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

Thanks for all the advice. Here is a picture of the backyard and more information.

The property extends beyond the large pines in the back, however, it is a pretty steep drop off after that. We're interested in creating a smooth, playing area in front of the pines.

Currently, there is about a 12" drop off from the patio. Right now, the entire backyard is infested with poison ivy. My initial thought was to scrape the top 8-10" of soil and dump it in the area behind the pines. This way I get rid of the PI roots and seeds. Then I wanted to backfill the area with fill, loam, and topsoil to the patio, and grow grass to prevent the PI from returning. I don't need the yard to be completely level. I just wanted a gradual, smooth slope towards the back.

Perhaps, a cheaper option is to backfill, but build steps from the patio. And put down topsoil and lay sod?

Either way, not sure if using the ledge as a base is a good or bad idea. The builder claims that the ledge will have enough fine pieces to fill in the air pockets. But not sure if I should trust him 100% (since he is looking to get rid of that stuff after all).


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

lbm - about all I can say is you have options. I don't think anyone can guide you from the pic above and not knowing much more about your site and the surrounds. But there are a few fundamentals you should keep in mind. If you want to grow anything permanent back there after you're done establishing grade of the soil, then you would like to have at least 12" of soil depth to work with. Second, if the fill is going to be more than six inches, then apply it in lifts of 6" or less. Third is grade - you'll want at least a 1" drop per 10' of distance as you move away from the house for runoff.

If it were me I wouldn't want to rely on excavation to take out PI. I would go for eradication with triclopyr. That stuff has a nasty habit of rebounding.

Final thought - the "deal" offer from the contractor is only a bargain if it is what you would have bought anyway, and if he would be your contractor of choice in the absence of the offer of free rock fill. Given his thought to cover the rock with 3" of soil as acceptable, he probably wouldn't be my choice. I would encourage you to talk with several local landscape or grade works contractors before making decisions.

edit added - one thing I failed to mention that came to mind as I looked at the pic again -- if you fill back towards the pines one of the things you want to avoid is changing the natural soil level around any trees that you wish to keep. How far that extends from the trees depends upon the size/age and type of tree. I have no good clue for pines, but somebody here might be able to give some counsel there. Bottom line - if you want to keep the native trees, then you need to respect and preserve their current immediate surrounding. That may determine your final grade options.

This post was edited by TXEB on Wed, Oct 2, 13 at 19:40


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

Lawn mower, lawn mower, lawn mower. Just get back there and mow the area. Then mow it again, and again. If it isn't smooth enough to mow, that is worth having done, but it really looks like that is all that is necessary. I wouldn't be wild about fill because it looks reasonably graded. It should drain away from the house anyway.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

I am in agreement with what has been said here so far. That is that you should get referances for local contractors,chose one and tell them what you don't like about the yard presently as well as what you would like for a yard. Let the contractor reccomend best means of redesighning the yard. I would suggest that unless you are confident in your ability to identify poision ivy,you take a plant to an expert for identification. If it is something less sinister,you can at least injoy being outdoors right away while planing. Leaves in groups of 3 means it is PI, any other # is something else.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 3, 13 at 9:43

Poison ivy can be pulled and composted. It will take 2 or 3 years to breakdown completely. Do not burn, the smoke can make you sick. A person would have to be well covered up, and wearing heavy gloves, in order to pull this plant. I suppose the clothing could be pre-soaked and then washed to remove the oily residue that causes human skin rash.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

Definitely don't burn the stuff. PI can be controlled via mechanical means, but it takes removal of all roots and 2-3 years of persistent removal of new young shoots to do the job. PI also spreads by seed.

If you have mature vines spreading in the area or growing up trees, and don't deal with them effectively, it will keep coming back. The roots can be quite extensive. If you have vines growing up trees, then cutting the vine and treating the cut with an appropriate herbicide works well. If you have well established large PI vines in the area, root removal is difficult. Treatment followed by mowing/cutting and then followed by retreatment is pretty effective. As an alternative to triclopyr, glyphosate (e.g., Roundup) is effective on young green growth. I've had little success in the past with glyphospate on mature, vining PI. There is now a combination product that contains both glyphosate + triclopyr udner the Roundup trademark as Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer made for control of PI, PO poison sumac, etc. Some say the classic Trimex mix works reasonably well, but requires several repeated applications. More on PI control via the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Poison Ivy Control


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

This is all great comments!!

I'm fairly good at identifying PI and it is definitely PI back there. There are large vines on the trees (i.e., vines the size of my arm) that need to be dealt with.

But, where you see all brown in the backyard. That used to be green and has been treated with Round-Up. (I also think since taking down 10 large trees in the backyard, the sun has killed a lot of stuff as well).

How do you mow if the area is full or limbs, rocks and not smooth? I presume I cannot use a normal push mower for that work. Should I rent a ride-on mower for this type of work?

Thanks!

Ruthie


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

Since you talk about ledge I'm guessing you're in an area with a real winter climate. If so, I'd use winter's dormancy to cleanup (i.e. pickup) the area so it will be suitable for mowing, then in early spring mow it and retreat any new growth that crops up as soon as possible. The large vines can be cut now and then the stump treated with full-strength herbicide (a paintbrush works well). For PI it's a game of persistence.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

@TXEB- this is a great suggestion. Yes, I'm in New England, so in a few months the area will likely be covered in snow.

I wonder why people suggest mowing PI. I've seen this suggestion in several places. Doesn't mowing it down just leave little PI stubble, which can still cause a rash?

I plan to cut the large vines this weekend, as I consider them to be "parent' vines, which are raining down seeds to the yard.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

Most woody plants can't handle the repeated cutting back to small stubs that automatically happens when they are mowed. It doesn't help them that it starts when they are still very young plants with few reserves. Most baby trees seem to be able to handle two mowings before dying off, and vines like poison ivy and Virginia creeper don't seem to fare much better.

Birds are very fond of poison ivy berries, and can carry the seeds for miles. So clearing it out of the immediate area isn't going to stop new seedlings from sprouting up. If you are in an area where poison ivy is established, it is an ongoing battle to keep it out.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

OK - I have to ask what 'ledge' is. 'A ledge' I can understand but just 'ledge'? Please someone enlighten me.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

flora, I believe it's an outcrop of bedrock or rock that is very shallow under a thin layer of soil. I'm curious too though. Still don't know if it's granite, limestone, size of the broken pieces, etc. Not a term we use out here in the Midwest.

For vines growing up into trees - we have both PI and large wild grape vines - I usually cut them with a saw at a convenient height, then cut off at the ground. The upper part will die and can be pulled down later. You might have to paint the stump with herbicide to make sure it doesn't come back. Just don't cut it once and leave it like that because it can potentially heal itself and reconnect. PI also has runners so these large ones might be connected to the yard sprouts.

We have other 3-leaved plants in MO but they way I distinguish it is that the center leaf has a longer stem.


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RE: Using Ledge as Fill?

ledge = bedrock In some areas, like Maine and parts of Colorado, it's widespread and a common challenge in excavation. Drill and blast is one way it is commonly broken up.


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