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The Big Fill


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Up in the Northeast were famous for the "The Big Dig" a huge construction project that went over budget (190%) and over schedule (9 years) and a commuter death directly related to poor construction. My project is going to be called "The Big Fill" and hopefully I come in under budget, on time and nobody will perish during the process.


A little about the project. The main portion of my lot is relatively narrow at 60' wide however it's very deep (250'). The lot has a very dramatic drop on the right hand side of the garage which is also the main backyard. The slope is approximately 24" over 36 feet. It also drops 12" from right to left. This area of the yard has always been a challenge due to the conditions. This is going to change, were filling it in.


The project is going to be as follows.


Phase 1


1. Removal of existing landscaping

2. Removal of existing 6' stockade PT fence

3. Removal of daughters playscape 

3. Digging of trench

4. Construction of retaining wall and deadmen.

5. Backfilling of yard - calculations comes to 37 cubic yards.

6. 3" of top soil

7. Seeding 


Winter Break Let everything compact and settle


Phase 2 - Spring


1. Installation of 6' Vinyl Privacy Fence - 130'. (This is going to be expensive)

2. Creation of fire pit and seating area in the middle of the yard.

3. New above ground pool - Jury is still out on this one.



Today we started the demo, which was the most rewarding. Essentially get all of the site prep down so I can start on digging the trench for the base of the retaining wall. I'll be on vacation next week, so I'll be out there early in the morning doing some digging before it get's too hot.


Pics from today.











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Started the day with picking up the landscape timbers and crushed stone for the base. I then drove some stakes in the ground and marked everything off. Spent the morning digging the trench and getting everything level.


Once that was done, I drilled the base for some 1/2" x 4' rebar to pin it to the ground. Filled the trench with crushed stone and the set the base level and flat (This was the biggest challenge). Managed to get all of the base in and most of the 1st course before my body gave out.

















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Looks great 99_XC600!! The worst part if yet to come moving and grading all the fill dirt and top soil your going to add!!




I'm going to try to make this as easy as possible, A good friend has access to a dump truck and my father has a Ford Diesel tractor with a 5' bucket on it. I'll be running the tractor as my buddy is going to the supply yard to get the fill. Doing it like this we should be able to fill it in 2"-3" layers at a time instead of a huge massive pile of material.


Should be starting this in a couple of weeks, Just need to coordinate everyone.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got up bright and early to start spreading the fill. My Dad delivered the tractor in a roll-off. :) The day went pretty well, I only buried the tractor once. Used the Jeep and some chains to pull it out. We ended up using 46 cubic yard of fill and I still have to cap it off with top soil


During the course of the day, we found a couple of toads and a salamander in the fill. My daughter rescued them and set them free.

















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Good question.


I was back blading with the tractor quite a bit. Once we spread out the initial 25 yards, the remaining 21 yards I was able to add in layers of 2-3 inches, It actually compacted pretty well to the point I was able drive the tractor on it and not make a huge depression.


We had some rain last night and I went ahead and inspected it and I saw some settling bu no huge craters. I'm going to try to top it off with the top soil next weekend. I need to check the weather first though.


My biggest decision right now is go with sod or seed. If I go with seed, I don't know if I'm going to have enough time to get the lawn established before the cold weather comes in. I essentially have about 7 weeks at this point. where as if I was go with sod, I think 7 weeks to get it grow it would be ok..

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Finally finished the final grading of the backyard. Ordered another 3 yards of top soil and spent the morning filling in all of the low spots and dragging everything flat and level.


My wife and I made the decision to strip all of the remaining grass in the backyard and reseed everything. I'm going to take this Friday off and rent a sod cutter to remove what's left off the grass and then hydroseed on Saturday.





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Took the day off to finish the prep of the backyard. We're trying to get it hydroseeded this Saturday and it's scheduled to rain on Friday so I needed to get this done today. Started early this morning by renting a sod cutter from Home Depot. This machine is must have for doing this type of work. I had everything cut in about 15 minutes. I then spend the next 3 hours picking everything up and raking the soil out. 


I'm so glad that this is the last of the heavy work with this phase of the project, my body is really starting to let me know that it's had just about enough. :)



















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Some may wonder why I'm going through all this effort for my backyard. The last picture pretty much explains it. The backyard is right against my neighbors rental property and my family has no privacy when were sitting outside on the patio or doing something in the yard.


Over the past 5 years, we've had some great neighbors and as well as inconsiderate deadbeats. Due to the instability of the neighboring population. We've decided to level off the backyard and put up a privacy fence that comes off the house and runs all the way back to the retaining wall where it will make a turn and terminate back on the garage.  The fence will be phase 2 and will be put up in the spring. 

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