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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bye Bye Ridge!

There has been this ridge in the backyard since I moved here 29 years ago (and by coincidence, this is the very week I moved here).  It has always been a problem.  Too sloped and uneven to mow.  A few years after I moved in, I was able to get it mostly cleared of scrub trees and vines.  But they kept growing back and English ivy slowly took over.  I cut back the tree seedlings many times and even painted herbicide on the cut trunks, but it hardly slowed them down.

I finally contacted an excavator who came out and gave me a quote for leveling the ridge and raising a portion of the front yard that flooded after heavy rains.  I accepted the quote on the spot and they said they would do the work the following week.  When they didn't arrive, I called only to be told they were too busy.

So I contacted some other excavators who decided the job was too small.  Only one agreed (reluctantly - he is 45 minutes away from here) and would not come out to give a quote - I would have to accept the cost afterwards. 

Then, Monday afternoon, the original contractor called to say they had a break in their schedule and could do the job the next morning if I was still interested.  I was, and they did!

I am delighted with the results.  They did even more than I thought they could (considering 2 small trees I wanted to save).

It looked like this to start...
They started by scraping the scrub tree seedlings and ivy off the top and sides.
Dumping it in a truck for disposal.  You can see the amazingly long ivy roots hanging down.  No wonder that stuff is so hard to kill!
The ridge was already nicely lowered from just that.
I would have had them just pile the scraped ivy all up in a corner to compost, but there was enough soil mixed in that they probably would have just kept growing.
See the soil dust rising from the bucket?  We havent exactly had drought here (lots of rain in June, but almost none since then).  Even 4' deep, the soil was dusty-dry.
The equipment is cool (literally).  The Bobcat cabin is sealed, air-conditioned, and has a stereo system inside!
They carefully worked around the 2 trees, watching for the 1st sign of main roots.  This one is a holly tree.  It's hard to kill.  When I first cleared the ridge so many years ago, I accidently cut it down and it regrew multiple trunks from that mistake. 
After all the scrub tree saplings and ivy were gone, they heaped up the remaining soil to examine the quality.  We had expected the ridge to be unusable gravel and clay, but it turned out to be good sandy loam so they moved it out as a base to raise the sunken front lawn.
Then they dumped 2 truckloads of topsoil on that!  They spent a good bit of time grading it carefully.   The whole area is now a foot higher than the drainage easement at the property line.  Unless we have a really severe hurricane before the grass I'll plant sets in good roots, my front yard flooding should be over.
They even spent time carefully smoothing the added soil to the existing lawn.
Here is the new front lawn...
And here is the new back yard!
I don't plan to cover the entire area in lawn.  Lawn is boring...  I plan to put a mix of Spring and Fall blooming azaleas around the inside edges of the trees and wildflowers and some long-lived perennials in  between them.  It will be fun to decide exactly what to plant where...

I need to drag out the roto-tiller first.  Even though the Bobcat has track treads to reduce soil compaction, the new surface is still too packed to just plant in.  The front yard will just get grass.

I wish I had had this done 20 years ago!


Flynn said...

Such a difference! It looks great!

Angel Prancer Pie said...

Looks good. Can't wait to see what you plant.


They did a great job!

Megan said...

Isn't that always the way, Mark - when you've put something off for a long time, and once it's done, you wonder why you didn't tackle it sooner? I'm so pleased that you were able to get these contractors to take on the project and that they did an excellent job. Well done!

Looking forward to seeing the plantings.

Sydney, Australia

Katie Isabella said...

That looks wonderful. Now...come on over and plan MINE! It's a humdinger too!

Pretinha said...

Ficou muito melhor, tudo limpo pronto para receber belas plantas.