Decomposed Granite suggestions

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jplee3
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Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Hi all,

I've been researching where to obtain DG from locally and found a place that has pretty good pricing but I'm unsure of the quality/grade of DG. I always thought DG to be broken down finer and not as course as what's pictured

Their pricing is the best I've found so far as I can get around 10tons *stabilized* of either one delivered for around $1030 (I dunno, maybe that's super expensive but it's the lowest I could find in my area). I'm not sure if I should go with track fines or 3/8s though. I'd be intending to install this in a relatively open area of our backyard where the kids can run/play and we can just hang out there, BBQ, setup a firepit, etc... There will be one area where I'd plan to pour it along the side of the house - not sure if that's recommended but there would be no intent to walk on it (it was previously a planter strip area which also had issues with water intrusion so we're trying to keep water away).

EDIT: If I didn't want it stabilized and just want the plain DG, it's $593.80 for the 3/8s and $629.50 for the track fines (delivered). I've seen how you can buy your own spray on stabilizer and do it that way but I'm not sure what brand would be best (Alliance Gator Stone - https://www.siteone.com/en/gatoraggra01 ... d/p/426689?) as well as how much of the stuff I'd need.

3/8's which has a brownish/tan tint:
Image

Track fines which as a grey'ish tint:
Image
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 04, 2022 4:32 pm Hi all,

I've been researching where to obtain DG from locally and found a place that has pretty good pricing but I'm unsure of the quality/grade of DG. I always thought DG to be broken down finer and not as course as what's pictured

Their pricing is the best I've found so far as I can get around 10tons *stabilized* of either one delivered for around $1030 (I dunno, maybe that's super expensive but it's the lowest I could find in my area). I'm not sure if I should go with track fines or 3/8s though. I'd be intending to install this in a relatively open area of our backyard where the kids can run/play and we can just hang out there, BBQ, setup a firepit, etc... There will be one area where I'd plan to pour it along the side of the house - not sure if that's recommended but there would be no intent to walk on it (it was previously a planter strip area which also had issues with water intrusion so we're trying to keep water away).

EDIT: If I didn't want it stabilized and just want the plain DG, it's $593.80 for the 3/8s and $629.50 for the track fines (delivered). I've seen how you can buy your own spray on stabilizer and do it that way but I'm not sure what brand would be best (Alliance Gator Stone - https://www.siteone.com/en/gatoraggra01 ... d/p/426689?) as well as how much of the stuff I'd need.

3/8's which has a brownish/tan tint:
Image

Track fines which as a grey'ish tint:
Image
To OP:
Notes:
1
Decomposed Granite, and other types of crushed rock, etc, can come from different "quarry locations" and be called the same thing. And, they might all be different. Some might have more fine powder and some from other locations might maintain "kibble" (technical trade term. . .) size.
For example: If 3/8" then the particulate size can max out at that and then be mostly useless powder that packs and or turns to mush when wet, or. . .it can be 3/8" but more like pre prepped and screened and washed with no dirt, no powder.
2
Actionably:
Suggest shopping for a good quality Decompose Granite that will hold up well over time and look like what you want, and so forth.
Go to various suppliers and see, or call around and ask what quarries they come from. In your area, there might be 3 local quarries and then from out of state shipped in bulk to the landscaping supply centers, etc.
**Again, Decomposed Granite, and other rock, etc, can be very different or vary depending on the source location (quarry).
For example: one quarry might have more "mica", etc, and the DG will be shiny. Etc.
3
20 tons is about what might fit on a full length "6X" dump truck (not the short or medium).
4
Another option for you, once you settle on the quarry source and type or grade of the Decomposed Granite, depending on how much you need, you can call around to the local trucking companies and get price quotes to go to the quarry, pickup what you want, and truck it to your location. It is competitive and very often cheaper than when you walk into the retail rock/dirt supply places. It might be worth looking into.
5
Finally, rock and particulate, most of them, degrades over time, the fines settle out and the larger "kibbles" stay on top. So, if you order something that's too fine, then realize that over time, it will get even finer and so forth if that is what you want. Just anticipate it.
6
Pricing varies per area and what you are getting. So, tough to say whether you got a good deal or not. If you compared around and that was your prices, then go with what you want for the best price.
7
There are a lot of different types of rock, and particulate material available. It doesn't have to be Decomposed Granite.
Why did you settle on Decomposed Granite? (HOA requirements, the "look", etc)
8
If you want the particulate "stabilized" or anything else, have the quarry do it. There's no comparison to DIY and messing with it.
9
If you have multi loads, often you will pay the last truck driver the total. Be sure also to work with the trucking company as far as how wide your driveway gate is, access, etc. Because if they come with a truck that's too big. . or a tandem...it's not so good at all.
10
Consider pavers or other solid landscaping material for your paths and perimeter home areas where drainage is important, erosion, etc.
11
If you have drainage swales (dry landscaping) then you might want to "rip rap" or use "smooth rounded river rock" etc, for those runs.

I hope these suggestions and notes helps you.
j :D
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Thanks! Regarding #7 - what alternatives might we consider instead of DG? I was just defaulting to it because thats all I know. I'm not interested in loose gravel unless its along the side of the house perhaps
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Also, if I want to cover a large space, how many inches of DG should I be aiming for? I've seen as little as 2-3". I just looked at the yard again and it seems there is only around 2" of dirt down from the level of the concrete... Am I aiming to get more DG further away from the concrete (like 3-4") where it slopes down to 2" right towards the concrete? I guess this would be to achieve grade so that water will flow towards the drains right? Here are some pics of the yard:

Image

Image
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 7:42 pm Also, if I want to cover a large space, how many inches of DG should I be aiming for? I've seen as little as 2-3". I just looked at the yard again and it seems there is only around 2" of dirt down from the level of the concrete... Am I aiming to get more DG further away from the concrete (like 3-4") where it slopes down to 2" right towards the concrete? I guess this would be to achieve grade so that water will flow towards the drains right?
Notes:
Landscape fabric or equiv, under the DG so it doesn't mix with the dirt and turn to muck in the rain, also it will slowly sink in and melt into the dirt, then it seems like it's mostly gone over time.
You're right, at least 3-4 inches. It will settle out to half that much depending on the size and amount of fines.
Per drainage, yes, for dry landscaping, so if possible, larger "kibbles" instead of mostly fines. But that depends on the slope. If steep, then larger kibbles or the fines will just erode and wash out. A grade of 1 inch in 8 feet is nice, 4 inch fall in 8 feet is also fairly gentle.

We were a G.C. company and worked with a lot of landscaping subcontrators, etc. so this is what I've seen and learned over the years, also for our own homes, rentals, etc.
I've seen some really nice projects, and then some lousy ones where owners cut corners, no fabric under the kibbles, or too thin.
You can "Google" online for more info from professional landscaping contractors, etc.

What a project!
Thanks for the pictures. Explains a lot.
It's too bad the drains and slope could not be toward that back wall opposite the patio instead of toward the patio.
That's a lot of hard work. All DIY. . ?????
Too bad you couldn't get a "mini bobcat or mini excavator in there to grade it and move dirt and things around. Save your back!

But, overall, it's a fairly flat area with only a gentle slope which is nice. In the end it will look great and be a useful area.

**Question:
Why not put larger colored gravel so you don't track the DG fine powder and sand into the house?
Why not do pavers on the entire back area?
Do a drainage swale with river rock instead of the drain pipe thing?
Note: The pictures of your "Decomposed Granite" looks more like "dirt" than screened even sized "kibbles/rocks/landscaping material". Why? Is that all that is available?

I hope this helps.
j :D
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 7:48 pm
jplee3 wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 7:42 pm Also, if I want to cover a large space, how many inches of DG should I be aiming for? I've seen as little as 2-3". I just looked at the yard again and it seems there is only around 2" of dirt down from the level of the concrete... Am I aiming to get more DG further away from the concrete (like 3-4") where it slopes down to 2" right towards the concrete? I guess this would be to achieve grade so that water will flow towards the drains right?
Notes:
Landscape fabric or equiv, under the DG so it doesn't mix with the dirt and turn to muck in the rain, also it will slowly sink in and melt into the dirt, then it seems like it's mostly gone over time.
You're right, at least 3-4 inches. It will settle out to half that much depending on the size and amount of fines.
Per drainage, yes, for dry landscaping, so if possible, larger "kibbles" instead of mostly fines. But that depends on the slope. If steep, then larger kibbles or the fines will just erode and wash out. A grade of 1 inch in 8 feet is nice, 4 inch fall in 8 feet is also fairly gentle.

We were a G.C. company and worked with a lot of landscaping subcontrators, etc. so this is what I've seen and learned over the years, also for our own homes, rentals, etc.
I've seen some really nice projects, and then some lousy ones where owners cut corners, no fabric under the kibbles, or too thin.
You can "Google" online for more info from professional landscaping contractors, etc.

What a project!
Thanks for the pictures. Explains a lot.
It's too bad the drains and slope could not be toward that back wall opposite the patio instead of toward the patio.
That's a lot of hard work. All DIY. . ?????
Too bad you couldn't get a "mini bobcat or mini excavator in there to grade it and move dirt and things around. Save your back!

But, overall, it's a fairly flat area with only a gentle slope which is nice. In the end it will look great and be a useful area.

**Question:
Why not put larger colored gravel so you don't track the DG fine powder and sand into the house?
Why not do pavers on the entire back area?
Do a drainage swale with river rock instead of the drain pipe thing?
Note: The pictures of your "Decomposed Granite" looks more like "dirt" than screened even sized "kibbles/rocks/landscaping material". Why? Is that all that is available?

I hope this helps.
j :D
Thanks! I wasn't sure about the landscape fabric so thanks for bringing that up as an important factor. Will keep it in mind.

BTW: none of the work so far as been DIY lol - we hired out a demo/excavation contractor to do all the work, including the concrete demo/repour. They did get a mini bobcat back there to remove the initial turf but apparently they didn't get enough. I'm not sure how to proceed with calling them out on this - I have a feeling the contractor is going to say I should have said something sooner, it wasn't part of the original scope, and now he has to charge me more... :( In his quote he noted removing approx 12cu yards of dirt - I think, at most, they probably on removed 6-8cu yards max. The front yard area (which I did not include pics of) is a little better - the depth there is closer to 3". It's the backyard area that isn't quite there though... I did add a redo of the drainage back there though where they trenched and dug out the old piping, and laid new piping deeper. The original drains were connected to a catch basin and the pipes were all very shallow. They removed the catch basin and were able to get more elevation by tying directly into the drain from the catch basin that goes to the curb. So now everything is a direct connection.

Yea I was thinking the "DG" picture is a bit too fine for my liking. I guess that's why it's cheaper :T - unless they actually screen that? If they screen it maybe the quality is a little better?
If I were to stabilize the DG, would tracking it back in be as big of a problem? I am avoiding pavers because of the high expense (we had this done at our condo and it was very expensive) but also because the turf removal program we signed up for won't allow for that. I mean, if we put flagstone pavers with at least 2" of separation (filled with gravel/dg) then I guess that could work too.

UPDATE:
Here are some pics of the yard... it rained so everything is a mess right now:
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

I just spoke with the contractor and told him he didn't remove enough dirt but he insists that he removed at least 5-6" - he went on to claim that they actually removed more dirt that they should have in the front area and that they removed dirt from the neighbor's property and not ours (I had to explain to him that we are on a zero lot line and that area is actually all ours... whether or not that was in the original quote is beside the point though). I told him the bottom line is that the level isn't low enough for us wanting to install DG. He disagreed and said we only need 2-3" of it. He said if you put more it'll get muddy and messy... my understanding is that you're supposed to compact the DG in passes at each 1-2" layer so that the drainage isn't a problem. When I first asked him if they do DG, it was in person, and he said they don't but he knows someone who does and he can get pricing and refer me. That never happened. When we spoke today I asked him again about that guy and he said "we can do DG" - I reminded him that he said he couldn't when we first spoke but he changed his tune. This feels like a bit of a money grab, honestly... and I'm afraid that if I go with this guy for the DG install, he may not do the best job (especially with the bare minimum amount of DG) and the end-product looks bad. Unless everything I've relayed about what he said actually sounds OK and I'm just misunderstanding... But at this point I'm thinking maybe it would be a good idea to get some referrals for contractors who have done DG installs and get opinions/estimates from them on whether or not the current dirt level is workable or if more needs to be removed.
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jabberwockOG »

Get a new guy to do the DG install. Get at least 2-3 estimates from the best folks you can find. They will be able to tell you if the prep work that was done to date is adequate.
DoubleComma
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by DoubleComma »

What kind of turf came out? If it was Bermuda of any type I would be concerned about it coming back up through the DG. You will for sure need landscape cloth if that was bermuda.

We have a lot of DG spread with no underlayment and its not stabilized but it settled nicely in the first year, its now been down for 6 years. We apply preemergent annually for weed control and it works there is nearly zero weeds and the few that come up and be picked in less than 10 min across 5000 sq ft. Our DG can be walked on in all weather without being a muddy mess, but I an still dig in it when needed. We spread it at 3"-4", didn't compact it when spread, and it has naturally settled/compacted to ~2, maybe a little less. We didn't use typical grey DG, we have brown/golden variety, I think the specific color was Palm Springs, but its pretty similar to California Gold.
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

jabberwockOG wrote: Tue Nov 08, 2022 5:16 pm Get a new guy to do the DG install. Get at least 2-3 estimates from the best folks you can find. They will be able to tell you if the prep work that was done to date is adequate.
Yea, I'm starting to inquire at this point...
DoubleComma wrote: Tue Nov 08, 2022 6:40 pm What kind of turf came out? If it was Bermuda of any type I would be concerned about it coming back up through the DG. You will for sure need landscape cloth if that was bermuda.

We have a lot of DG spread with no underlayment and its not stabilized but it settled nicely in the first year, its now been down for 6 years. We apply preemergent annually for weed control and it works there is nearly zero weeds and the few that come up and be picked in less than 10 min across 5000 sq ft. Our DG can be walked on in all weather without being a muddy mess, but I an still dig in it when needed. We spread it at 3"-4", didn't compact it when spread, and it has naturally settled/compacted to ~2, maybe a little less. We didn't use typical grey DG, we have brown/golden variety, I think the specific color was Palm Springs, but its pretty similar to California Gold.
My neighbor did a DG path and only used 2" of DG. He thinks that 2" might be well enough for what we're looking at doing but he is going to come over and take a look to give his insight. I think it was Bermuda or St Augustine that was under it prior. Not 100% sure but sounds like it would be a good idea just to get landscape cloth. I'm wondering if where you get the DG makes a difference as well in terms of needing compact it vs letting it naturally settle. Your DG sounds like it might have been pretty high quality, no? Did you shop around for yours? How did you land on the vendor that you went with?

If our current contractor isn't willing to be any more useful with soil removal (if it's really necessary) and I find it too costly to go with a contractor, I think this is something we can DIY - what I would likely do is start shoveling and moving dirt (maybe 1-2"?) towards the outside edges where we intend to plant stuff. I think we can't get too carried away because we are supposed to be mulching around whatever we plant too. I'm thinking if we are able to do that, then we would kill 2 birds with 1 stone and clear more depth to pour a more sufficient level of DG in to spread around. I just want to make sure we don't underorder or overorder on the DG. I guess overordering is better than underordering though, since the delivery fees are $$$$
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

Some sdded notes to op:
1
treat ground with preemergent or similar before landscaping fabric
2
grade low enough do that your finished grad about 8 feet leading up to your slab is at least 2 inches lower than your slab. then shape s gental non tripping swale about 4-6 feet wide running slong your slab that goes with your drain system.
This us the reason to put in 3-4inches or more of quicklydraining draining gravel instead of crushed DG thst is full of fines and sand and powder
3
Realize that Decomposed Granite is differfor everyone everywhere so everyone can talk but it is different per area and quarry.
To drain well, whether Decomposed Granite or pea gravel or Colored driveway gravel or whatever "kibble" for your puposes, something the size of pea gravel with no fines and no sand size powder will drain well.....

***** (the main point of this project that can be lost) is a key objective. No matter what you get, if it doesn't drain well and quickly into your system then all is failed.
4
you can rent a "mini me" size mini excavator with front blade and on tracks and do what you need and grade it well in one short day. If the machine has an offset boom capability then great as you can use it along your wall and sides better.
5
For sitework, always excavate more than you need and pursue yhe finish grade with the fill. IE: don't worry about caulking if the walls haven't been framed yet.
6
fill always compacts. IE 4 inches of fill turns into 2-3 inches of finished grade. (depending on the type of fill IE: screened and washed pea gravel from blue rock self compacts if layed properly in lifts/layers to 70-80+ % all by itself.

** you can put some decorative pavers or a ring of them around those drain pipe (green) grills from just under the level of them to the finished grade level, even with the patio slab or just a little below so it drains only surface water and not your gravel or dirt or DG or whatever. If dirt or fill or gravel, etc, gets into it, then it will be a bad day after awhile. You want it only to drain surface water or just below. You can also put the landscape fabric over it. But, I would put something like a collar of pavers or something like that up to the finished grade.
or a 12 inch wide ring of small river rock
j
Last edited by Sandtrap on Wed Nov 09, 2022 9:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Wed Nov 09, 2022 8:58 am Some sdded notes to op:
1
treat ground with preemergent or similar before landscaping fabric
2
grade low enough do that your finished grad about 8 feet leading up to your slab is at least 2 inches lower than your slab. then shape s gental non tripping swale about 4-6 feet wide running slong your slab that goes with your drain system.
This us the reason to put in 3-4inches or more of quicklydraining draining gravel instead of crushed DG thst is full of fines and sand and powder
3
Realize that Decomposed Granite is differfor everyone everywhere so everyone can talk but it is different per area and quarry.
To drain well, whether Decomposed Granite or pea gravel or Colored driveway gravel or whatever "kibble" for your puposes, something the size of pea gravel with no fines and no sand size powder will drain well.....

***** (the main point of this project that can be lost) is a key objective. No matter what you get, if it doesn't drain well and quickly into your system then all is failed.
4
you can rent a "mini me" size mini excavator with front blade and on tracks and do what you need and grade it well in one short day. If the machine has an offset boom capability then great as you can use it along your wall and sides better.
5
For sitework, always excavate more than you need and pursue yhe finish grade with the fill. IE: don't worry about caulking if the walls haven't been framed yet.
6
fill always compacts. IE 4 inches of fill turns into 2-3 inches of finished grade. (depending on the type of fill IE: screened and washed pea gravel from blue rock self compacts if layed properly in lifts/layers to 70-80+ % all by itself.

j

I have Ortho Groundclear - not sure if that would be too aggressive. I've heard Preen is a good idea otherwise. The demo contractor came back today and gave me a quote for him to do the DG install. $4800 for probably around 800sq ft. We probably wouldn't do all of that though so his pricing may end up lower but that feels kind of high. He said he would install 2" of roadbase and then 2" of DG on top of that. He kept saying that it's a bad idea to install the DG directly over the clay soil as it'll start settling, sinking in and getting mixed up, hence the road base. Of course, when discussing the backyard grading, he said that they would take care of that as part of this project. I ended up paying him in the remainder owed for the work done but am not too happy with the level he left the dirt at. I'm not great when it comes to voicing my complaints and standing my ground, so feel like he got away with that. I'm planning to have a couple guys come out to quote the same job (maybe adding scope with another area in the yard) to see what they suggest.

As far as pea gravel, I was never a huge fan just because those can get messy too and the kids will probably be tempted to take handfuls of them and throw them at each other, over the fence, or into the neighbor's yard hahaha.

I'm apprehensive about renting one of those mini excavator simply because I've never operated one let alone rented anything like this. Then we'd have to worry about how to haul it to our place and would have to rent a flat bed truck, etc. It would be tricky to navigate through our 4-5' wide entry gate and there is a step down to a path on the side of our home and step back up going into the backyard. Maybe it's much easier than it seems but it all sounds quite intimidating to me as someone who has never touched one of those machines.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Wed Nov 09, 2022 3:00 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Wed Nov 09, 2022 8:58 am Some sdded notes to op:
1
treat ground with preemergent or similar before landscaping fabric
2
grade low enough do that your finished grad about 8 feet leading up to your slab is at least 2 inches lower than your slab. then shape s gental non tripping swale about 4-6 feet wide running slong your slab that goes with your drain system.
This us the reason to put in 3-4inches or more of quicklydraining draining gravel instead of crushed DG thst is full of fines and sand and powder
3
Realize that Decomposed Granite is differfor everyone everywhere so everyone can talk but it is different per area and quarry.
To drain well, whether Decomposed Granite or pea gravel or Colored driveway gravel or whatever "kibble" for your puposes, something the size of pea gravel with no fines and no sand size powder will drain well.....

***** (the main point of this project that can be lost) is a key objective. No matter what you get, if it doesn't drain well and quickly into your system then all is failed.
4
you can rent a "mini me" size mini excavator with front blade and on tracks and do what you need and grade it well in one short day. If the machine has an offset boom capability then great as you can use it along your wall and sides better.
5
For sitework, always excavate more than you need and pursue yhe finish grade with the fill. IE: don't worry about caulking if the walls haven't been framed yet.
6
fill always compacts. IE 4 inches of fill turns into 2-3 inches of finished grade. (depending on the type of fill IE: screened and washed pea gravel from blue rock self compacts if layed properly in lifts/layers to 70-80+ % all by itself.

j

I have Ortho Groundclear - not sure if that would be too aggressive. I've heard Preen is a good idea otherwise. The demo contractor came back today and gave me a quote for him to do the DG install. $4800 for probably around 800sq ft. We probably wouldn't do all of that though so his pricing may end up lower but that feels kind of high. He said he would install 2" of roadbase and then 2" of DG on top of that. He kept saying that it's a bad idea to install the DG directly over the clay soil as it'll start settling, sinking in and getting mixed up, hence the road base. Of course, when discussing the backyard grading, he said that they would take care of that as part of this project. I ended up paying him in the remainder owed for the work done but am not too happy with the level he left the dirt at. I'm not great when it comes to voicing my complaints and standing my ground, so feel like he got away with that. I'm planning to have a couple guys come out to quote the same job (maybe adding scope with another area in the yard) to see what they suggest.

As far as pea gravel, I was never a huge fan just because those can get messy too and the kids will probably be tempted to take handfuls of them and throw them at each other, over the fence, or into the neighbor's yard hahaha.

I'm apprehensive about renting one of those mini excavator simply because I've never operated one let alone rented anything like this. Then we'd have to worry about how to haul it to our place and would have to rent a flat bed truck, etc. It would be tricky to navigate through our 4-5' wide entry gate and there is a step down to a path on the side of our home and step back up going into the backyard. Maybe it's much easier than it seems but it all sounds quite intimidating to me as someone who has never touched one of those machines.
Yes.
DG or other finished gravel does not do well directly on expansive clay, etc.
Putting down 3-4 inches of compacted "AB Spec" which is per spec road gravel used on the highways is a great idea. "AB Spec" is solid rock size "A" and "B", "a being the larger", and SPec, means that it is screened and washed so there is no dirt in it or fines. "Spec" if it is true spec road base for the highways, also has "Lime" mixed in it. When it get's wet, it dries very very hard on its own.
If you are going to do a great job, and just once, then this is a solid way to do things. The contractor is right about finished gravel, DG, etc, put directly on dirt or fabric and dirt, just disappears after awhile.
As for the mini excavator grader, if you did want that, you can call the local contractor supply centers and they will rent you one and include delivery to your location and also pickup. You can rent by the day or a week at a time.
A few minutes on one and you will be having fun and look for things to do. If you can operate a riding lawn mower, you can perhaps get the hang of it. On the other hand, if you wack that CMU wall with the arm of the excavator, then that's not good. So, maybe leave that to the contractors.

j :D
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Wed Nov 09, 2022 9:28 pm
jplee3 wrote: Wed Nov 09, 2022 3:00 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Wed Nov 09, 2022 8:58 am Some sdded notes to op:
1
treat ground with preemergent or similar before landscaping fabric
2
grade low enough do that your finished grad about 8 feet leading up to your slab is at least 2 inches lower than your slab. then shape s gental non tripping swale about 4-6 feet wide running slong your slab that goes with your drain system.
This us the reason to put in 3-4inches or more of quicklydraining draining gravel instead of crushed DG thst is full of fines and sand and powder
3
Realize that Decomposed Granite is differfor everyone everywhere so everyone can talk but it is different per area and quarry.
To drain well, whether Decomposed Granite or pea gravel or Colored driveway gravel or whatever "kibble" for your puposes, something the size of pea gravel with no fines and no sand size powder will drain well.....

***** (the main point of this project that can be lost) is a key objective. No matter what you get, if it doesn't drain well and quickly into your system then all is failed.
4
you can rent a "mini me" size mini excavator with front blade and on tracks and do what you need and grade it well in one short day. If the machine has an offset boom capability then great as you can use it along your wall and sides better.
5
For sitework, always excavate more than you need and pursue yhe finish grade with the fill. IE: don't worry about caulking if the walls haven't been framed yet.
6
fill always compacts. IE 4 inches of fill turns into 2-3 inches of finished grade. (depending on the type of fill IE: screened and washed pea gravel from blue rock self compacts if layed properly in lifts/layers to 70-80+ % all by itself.

j

I have Ortho Groundclear - not sure if that would be too aggressive. I've heard Preen is a good idea otherwise. The demo contractor came back today and gave me a quote for him to do the DG install. $4800 for probably around 800sq ft. We probably wouldn't do all of that though so his pricing may end up lower but that feels kind of high. He said he would install 2" of roadbase and then 2" of DG on top of that. He kept saying that it's a bad idea to install the DG directly over the clay soil as it'll start settling, sinking in and getting mixed up, hence the road base. Of course, when discussing the backyard grading, he said that they would take care of that as part of this project. I ended up paying him in the remainder owed for the work done but am not too happy with the level he left the dirt at. I'm not great when it comes to voicing my complaints and standing my ground, so feel like he got away with that. I'm planning to have a couple guys come out to quote the same job (maybe adding scope with another area in the yard) to see what they suggest.

As far as pea gravel, I was never a huge fan just because those can get messy too and the kids will probably be tempted to take handfuls of them and throw them at each other, over the fence, or into the neighbor's yard hahaha.

I'm apprehensive about renting one of those mini excavator simply because I've never operated one let alone rented anything like this. Then we'd have to worry about how to haul it to our place and would have to rent a flat bed truck, etc. It would be tricky to navigate through our 4-5' wide entry gate and there is a step down to a path on the side of our home and step back up going into the backyard. Maybe it's much easier than it seems but it all sounds quite intimidating to me as someone who has never touched one of those machines.
Yes.
DG or other finished gravel does not do well directly on expansive clay, etc.
Putting down 3-4 inches of compacted "AB Spec" which is per spec road gravel used on the highways is a great idea. "AB Spec" is solid rock size "A" and "B", "a being the larger", and SPec, means that it is screened and washed so there is no dirt in it or fines. "Spec" if it is true spec road base for the highways, also has "Lime" mixed in it. When it get's wet, it dries very very hard on its own.
If you are going to do a great job, and just once, then this is a solid way to do things. The contractor is right about finished gravel, DG, etc, put directly on dirt or fabric and dirt, just disappears after awhile.
As for the mini excavator grader, if you did want that, you can call the local contractor supply centers and they will rent you one and include delivery to your location and also pickup. You can rent by the day or a week at a time.
A few minutes on one and you will be having fun and look for things to do. If you can operate a riding lawn mower, you can perhaps get the hang of it. On the other hand, if you wack that CMU wall with the arm of the excavator, then that's not good. So, maybe leave that to the contractors.

j :D

Thanks! I just got a ballpark rough quote from one other contractor who quoted above what the demo/excavation contractor quoted us... I'm collecting a few more quotes. Still not sure if I want to attempt DIYing it or not. One landscaper I spoke with said to ask for "Angel" when I call different supply yards - apparently this is the stuff to go with at least here in SoCal. If we were to have road gravel installed, would we still want/need to have the weed barrier under it as well? At this point, it almost seems like I'll probably 'save money' going with the demo/excavation contractor who I've already used. I suppose I could ask him what it would cost just to install the road gravel and compact it in the backyard area (and other areas where I might want open space DG) then order "angel" from wherever I can find it and DIY.

Would road base also work to help promote drainage especially in areas like the side alley where we have that small planter/drainage strip? I'd imagine we could pour in roadbase, have it compacted, then pour in decent sized river rocks or something...

As far as the mini excavator, I'll consider looking into it. I've never operated a ride-on lawn mower so it would be a completely new thing haha. Yea, I'd be afraid of peripheral damage such as that you described - it could be a VERY expensive rental :D
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 5:10 pm AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺


Haha, so I just had a local landscape/sofscape guy come out and try to convince me not to do DG. He says he works with it all the time and does installs/maintenance for horse ranches (his own and others), motorbike dirt raceways, and whatever else. He said for our application, it wouldn't make sense to him (in his opinion) and kept trying to sway me to install concrete and just concrete the entire yard. I was trying to explain the whole reason we went this route was for turf removal/replacement and that there are certain guidelines we have to meet in order to qualify for the rebate. His thing was focusing more on the long term value and maintenance aspects - less water usage, more usable space, etc is worth more than any rebate in the long term. I can see his point but I'm also not fond of turning our yard into a full on concrete jungle. Our neighbors across did something like this and it feels way too sterile... I get his point about less water usage but the other point about designing a permeable landscape is for water retention and hopefully capturing and reusing most of the water that we do get from rainfall. I've gotten a bit into the weeds (ha ha) with looking into how to best integrate CA native plants into our landscaping, so trying to be thoughtful of that.

In the end his logic was "you're paying a lot of money for what is basically just more dirt. So you're going to pay to remove dirt and then pay to put dirt back in? Just concrete everything" hahahaha. That said, I asked for a couple alternatives but he didn't seem to give a straightforward answer. Pea gravel I guess was one alternative though...
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 1:05 am
Sandtrap wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 5:10 pm AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺


Haha, so I just had a local landscape/sofscape guy come out and try to convince me not to do DG. He says he works with it all the time and does installs/maintenance for horse ranches (his own and others), motorbike dirt raceways, and whatever else. He said for our application, it wouldn't make sense to him (in his opinion) and kept trying to sway me to install concrete and just concrete the entire yard. I was trying to explain the whole reason we went this route was for turf removal/replacement and that there are certain guidelines we have to meet in order to qualify for the rebate. His thing was focusing more on the long term value and maintenance aspects - less water usage, more usable space, etc is worth more than any rebate in the long term. I can see his point but I'm also not fond of turning our yard into a full on concrete jungle. Our neighbors across did something like this and it feels way too sterile... I get his point about less water usage but the other point about designing a permeable landscape is for water retention and hopefully capturing and reusing most of the water that we do get from rainfall. I've gotten a bit into the weeds (ha ha) with looking into how to best integrate CA native plants into our landscaping, so trying to be thoughtful of that.

In the end his logic was "you're paying a lot of money for what is basically just more dirt. So you're going to pay to remove dirt and then pay to put dirt back in? Just concrete everything" hahahaha. That said, I asked for a couple alternatives but he didn't seem to give a straightforward answer. Pea gravel I guess was one alternative though...
Pea gravel
Pea pebbles
River pebbles. . .
all sorts of names and types. .
You might be happy with the functionality and dry landscaping look of something like this that drains well, wears well, doesn't turn into fines and mud or plug up your drain systems like DG and is natural screened and washed from nature vs processed smashed crushed granite rocks.

The fellow had a point about replacing dirt with dirt. So, a middle road might be something that occurs naturally in nature in your area/region like river pebbles or pea pebbles like this. It also feels nice to walk on, and is not sharp edged like some pea gravel from chipped blue rock.

Image

If you use river rock of whatever sizes for other landscaping, it will match well, too.
j :D
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bighatnohorse
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by bighatnohorse »

You mentioned Ortho Ground Clear and Preen.
My experience with Preen is that it simply does not work and was a waste of time and money.
Ortho Ground Clear works - and works well if one follows the instructions carefully regarding application rate.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

bighatnohorse wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 9:37 am You mentioned Ortho Ground Clear and Preen.
My experience with Preen is that it simply does not work and was a waste of time and money.
Ortho Ground Clear works - and works well if one follows the instructions carefully regarding application rate.
Weeds are tough in our area.

Why the weeds are so tough that........(insert comedy line)...

The landscapers here use some type of "pre-emergent" product then spot spray generic glycasophate (spel?) as needed.

j🌺
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 7:19 am
jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 1:05 am
Sandtrap wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 5:10 pm AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺


Haha, so I just had a local landscape/sofscape guy come out and try to convince me not to do DG. He says he works with it all the time and does installs/maintenance for horse ranches (his own and others), motorbike dirt raceways, and whatever else. He said for our application, it wouldn't make sense to him (in his opinion) and kept trying to sway me to install concrete and just concrete the entire yard. I was trying to explain the whole reason we went this route was for turf removal/replacement and that there are certain guidelines we have to meet in order to qualify for the rebate. His thing was focusing more on the long term value and maintenance aspects - less water usage, more usable space, etc is worth more than any rebate in the long term. I can see his point but I'm also not fond of turning our yard into a full on concrete jungle. Our neighbors across did something like this and it feels way too sterile... I get his point about less water usage but the other point about designing a permeable landscape is for water retention and hopefully capturing and reusing most of the water that we do get from rainfall. I've gotten a bit into the weeds (ha ha) with looking into how to best integrate CA native plants into our landscaping, so trying to be thoughtful of that.

In the end his logic was "you're paying a lot of money for what is basically just more dirt. So you're going to pay to remove dirt and then pay to put dirt back in? Just concrete everything" hahahaha. That said, I asked for a couple alternatives but he didn't seem to give a straightforward answer. Pea gravel I guess was one alternative though...
Pea gravel
Pea pebbles
River pebbles. . .
all sorts of names and types. .
You might be happy with the functionality and dry landscaping look of something like this that drains well, wears well, doesn't turn into fines and mud or plug up your drain systems like DG and is natural screened and washed from nature vs processed smashed crushed granite rocks.

The fellow had a point about replacing dirt with dirt. So, a middle road might be something that occurs naturally in nature in your area/region like river pebbles or pea pebbles like this. It also feels nice to walk on, and is not sharp edged like some pea gravel from chipped blue rock.

Image

If you use river rock of whatever sizes for other landscaping, it will match well, too.
j :D

Yea, it makes sense in the big picture. I'm just trying to nail down the parameters especially of the turf removal rebate program and how stringent they actually are --- e.g. can I have 3x3 concrete pad "pavers" with 2" of separation between them without invalidating the terms of the program.
Weathering
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Weathering »

@jplee3,
Did you already file for the rebate?
I'm also in So Cal and pursuing the same turf removal rebate. I am very far behind your progress; I still have grass in the area and haven't submitted the rebate paperwork (hoping to do that within 1 week, but just haven't finalized the plan).
We are considering DG or pebbles (we found one called Salmon Bay, which has translucent pebbles that almost look like rounded beach glass). In our case, we have two dogs, and they will still occasionally do their business in this part of our yard, so we are leaning more toward DG than pebbles, so we aren't picking dog poop out of pebbles. We are also planning for 2'x2' pavers to create an informal walkway, but if the rebate program doesn't allow them, we will re-evaluate the pavers.
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Weathering wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 2:26 pm @jplee3,
Did you already file for the rebate?
I'm also in So Cal and pursuing the same turf removal rebate. I am very far behind your progress; I still have grass in the area and haven't submitted the rebate paperwork (hoping to do that within 1 week, but just haven't finalized the plan).
We are considering DG or pebbles (we found one called Salmon Bay, which has translucent pebbles that almost look like rounded beach glass). In our case, we have two dogs, and they will still occasionally do their business in this part of our yard, so we are leaning more toward DG than pebbles, so we aren't picking dog poop out of pebbles. We are also planning for 2'x2' pavers to create an informal walkway, but if the rebate program doesn't allow them, we will re-evaluate the pavers.
I did submit for it and it has been approved. I likely need extensions on it though since we haven't figured everything out :T

I think the submittal process varies depending on your water district, etc too. I'm under the Municipal Water District for OC (https://mwdoc.dropletportal.com/) and they require a site assessment beforehand where they take the sq footage. It's a bit of a process and confusing as you have to get a designer involved, etc. Some local districts (mine is Moulton Niguel) will coordinate with MWDOC and have local partners involved for the designing portion. I almost went this route until I realized they charge an arm and a leg just for the landscape design and oversight! IIRC, it was to the tune for $10k+!!!

When you say 2'x2' pavers, what kind specifically? I think the program, at least MWDOC, allows for pavers but there needs to be 2" of separation with permeable landscaping between them.
Weathering
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Weathering »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 2:30 pm
Weathering wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 2:26 pm @jplee3,
Did you already file for the rebate?
I'm also in So Cal and pursuing the same turf removal rebate. I am very far behind your progress; I still have grass in the area and haven't submitted the rebate paperwork (hoping to do that within 1 week, but just haven't finalized the plan).
We are considering DG or pebbles (we found one called Salmon Bay, which has translucent pebbles that almost look like rounded beach glass). In our case, we have two dogs, and they will still occasionally do their business in this part of our yard, so we are leaning more toward DG than pebbles, so we aren't picking dog poop out of pebbles. We are also planning for 2'x2' pavers to create an informal walkway, but if the rebate program doesn't allow them, we will re-evaluate the pavers.
I did submit for it and it has been approved. I likely need extensions on it though since we haven't figured everything out :T

I think the submittal process varies depending on your water district, etc too. I'm under the Municipal Water District for OC (https://mwdoc.dropletportal.com/) and they require a site assessment beforehand where they take the sq footage. It's a bit of a process and confusing as you have to get a designer involved, etc. Some local districts (mine is Moulton Niguel) will coordinate with MWDOC and have local partners involved for the designing portion. I almost went this route until I realized they charge an arm and a leg just for the landscape design and oversight! IIRC, it was to the tune for $10k+!!!

When you say 2'x2' pavers, what kind specifically? I think the program, at least MWDOC, allows for pavers but there needs to be 2" of separation with permeable landscaping between them.
Wow! $10K is a lot for a design. It's even a lot if it includes installation. I suspect my project will cost less than $2K, so I will pursue it even if the rebate program falls through.
I'm in San Diego and my rebate would be through https://socalwatersmart.com/en/resident ... t-program/
I haven't submitted for the rebate yet because it wants me to submit the new plan along with the application (and at least 5 recent photos of the grass in the area). I haven't finalized my plan yet because I'm waffling between gravel or DG, and I'm switching in/out a few of my selected plants.

Regarding DG, I think you are getting wildly different quality and pricing because DG is frequently used as a base material for artificial grass (that DG is usually gray). When it is used for that purpose, the aesthetic qualities of it don't matter, and the price is the determining factor. So, you will find many references to DG for very low prices, but that DG is only suitable as a base for artificial grass. For the higher quality DG (the kind frequently seen in Palm Springs and many parts of AZ), there are fewer vendors than for the lower quality DG.
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Weathering wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 3:36 pm
jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 2:30 pm
Weathering wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 2:26 pm @jplee3,
Did you already file for the rebate?
I'm also in So Cal and pursuing the same turf removal rebate. I am very far behind your progress; I still have grass in the area and haven't submitted the rebate paperwork (hoping to do that within 1 week, but just haven't finalized the plan).
We are considering DG or pebbles (we found one called Salmon Bay, which has translucent pebbles that almost look like rounded beach glass). In our case, we have two dogs, and they will still occasionally do their business in this part of our yard, so we are leaning more toward DG than pebbles, so we aren't picking dog poop out of pebbles. We are also planning for 2'x2' pavers to create an informal walkway, but if the rebate program doesn't allow them, we will re-evaluate the pavers.
I did submit for it and it has been approved. I likely need extensions on it though since we haven't figured everything out :T

I think the submittal process varies depending on your water district, etc too. I'm under the Municipal Water District for OC (https://mwdoc.dropletportal.com/) and they require a site assessment beforehand where they take the sq footage. It's a bit of a process and confusing as you have to get a designer involved, etc. Some local districts (mine is Moulton Niguel) will coordinate with MWDOC and have local partners involved for the designing portion. I almost went this route until I realized they charge an arm and a leg just for the landscape design and oversight! IIRC, it was to the tune for $10k+!!!

When you say 2'x2' pavers, what kind specifically? I think the program, at least MWDOC, allows for pavers but there needs to be 2" of separation with permeable landscaping between them.
Wow! $10K is a lot for a design. It's even a lot if it includes installation. I suspect my project will cost less than $2K, so I will pursue it even if the rebate program falls through.
I'm in San Diego and my rebate would be through https://socalwatersmart.com/en/resident ... t-program/
I haven't submitted for the rebate yet because it wants me to submit the new plan along with the application (and at least 5 recent photos of the grass in the area). I haven't finalized my plan yet because I'm waffling between gravel or DG, and I'm switching in/out a few of my selected plants.

Regarding DG, I think you are getting wildly different quality and pricing because DG is frequently used as a base material for artificial grass (that DG is usually gray). When it is used for that purpose, the aesthetic qualities of it don't matter, and the price is the determining factor. So, you will find many references to DG for very low prices, but that DG is only suitable as a base for artificial grass. For the higher quality DG (the kind frequently seen in Palm Springs and many parts of AZ), there are fewer vendors than for the lower quality DG.
$2000 seems very low - are you DIYing all of it? That's what my budget was when I was planning to DIY everything. Then I realized that wasn't going to happen with the massive amounts of roots that took hold in our yard. I paid $12k for a combination of concrete demo, repouring, grading, excavation, drainage, and turf/soil removal and there are STILL visible roots in both the front and back (from palm and ficus trees mostly but also some bamboo rhizomes). It has been a complete nightmare dealing with basically a full on yard overhaul. We still have a lot of dirt that we should move or remove but I think I'm going to need a break from it. The concrete repour was a major piece of it - we had to remove an area that was previously raised concrete for whatever reason (not good because they had it going all the way to the wall of the house, covering the weep screed) and then we had to demo the side alley and repour to grade because it was pooling water back there with no drainage after the rains would come. All of the sudden the scope of our project blew up into something much bigger :T

Anyway, regarding gravel, I'm seriously contemplating just pouring a bunch of it in our back, along the sides of the house on one side, in the front interior courtyard and even in most parts of the front yard at this rate. Hahaha
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 7:19 am
jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 1:05 am
Sandtrap wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 5:10 pm AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺


Haha, so I just had a local landscape/sofscape guy come out and try to convince me not to do DG. He says he works with it all the time and does installs/maintenance for horse ranches (his own and others), motorbike dirt raceways, and whatever else. He said for our application, it wouldn't make sense to him (in his opinion) and kept trying to sway me to install concrete and just concrete the entire yard. I was trying to explain the whole reason we went this route was for turf removal/replacement and that there are certain guidelines we have to meet in order to qualify for the rebate. His thing was focusing more on the long term value and maintenance aspects - less water usage, more usable space, etc is worth more than any rebate in the long term. I can see his point but I'm also not fond of turning our yard into a full on concrete jungle. Our neighbors across did something like this and it feels way too sterile... I get his point about less water usage but the other point about designing a permeable landscape is for water retention and hopefully capturing and reusing most of the water that we do get from rainfall. I've gotten a bit into the weeds (ha ha) with looking into how to best integrate CA native plants into our landscaping, so trying to be thoughtful of that.

In the end his logic was "you're paying a lot of money for what is basically just more dirt. So you're going to pay to remove dirt and then pay to put dirt back in? Just concrete everything" hahahaha. That said, I asked for a couple alternatives but he didn't seem to give a straightforward answer. Pea gravel I guess was one alternative though...
Pea gravel
Pea pebbles
River pebbles. . .
all sorts of names and types. .
You might be happy with the functionality and dry landscaping look of something like this that drains well, wears well, doesn't turn into fines and mud or plug up your drain systems like DG and is natural screened and washed from nature vs processed smashed crushed granite rocks.

The fellow had a point about replacing dirt with dirt. So, a middle road might be something that occurs naturally in nature in your area/region like river pebbles or pea pebbles like this. It also feels nice to walk on, and is not sharp edged like some pea gravel from chipped blue rock.

Image

If you use river rock of whatever sizes for other landscaping, it will match well, too.
j :D
BTW: for my use case of wanting an open space area where the kids can run around, where we can have a picnic table/benches, a firepit, etc or even simply having a solid patio area that has good drainage, what type of gravel/rock material and sizing would you recommend that looks nice and can also compact down nicely for *relatively* smooth surface (or one that likens well to having flagstone pavers)? It sounds like we would still want to use heavy landscape fabric so that none of this mixes in with the clay soil?
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 4:25 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 7:19 am
jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 1:05 am
Sandtrap wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 5:10 pm AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺


Haha, so I just had a local landscape/sofscape guy come out and try to convince me not to do DG. He says he works with it all the time and does installs/maintenance for horse ranches (his own and others), motorbike dirt raceways, and whatever else. He said for our application, it wouldn't make sense to him (in his opinion) and kept trying to sway me to install concrete and just concrete the entire yard. I was trying to explain the whole reason we went this route was for turf removal/replacement and that there are certain guidelines we have to meet in order to qualify for the rebate. His thing was focusing more on the long term value and maintenance aspects - less water usage, more usable space, etc is worth more than any rebate in the long term. I can see his point but I'm also not fond of turning our yard into a full on concrete jungle. Our neighbors across did something like this and it feels way too sterile... I get his point about less water usage but the other point about designing a permeable landscape is for water retention and hopefully capturing and reusing most of the water that we do get from rainfall. I've gotten a bit into the weeds (ha ha) with looking into how to best integrate CA native plants into our landscaping, so trying to be thoughtful of that.

In the end his logic was "you're paying a lot of money for what is basically just more dirt. So you're going to pay to remove dirt and then pay to put dirt back in? Just concrete everything" hahahaha. That said, I asked for a couple alternatives but he didn't seem to give a straightforward answer. Pea gravel I guess was one alternative though...
Pea gravel
Pea pebbles
River pebbles. . .
all sorts of names and types. .
You might be happy with the functionality and dry landscaping look of something like this that drains well, wears well, doesn't turn into fines and mud or plug up your drain systems like DG and is natural screened and washed from nature vs processed smashed crushed granite rocks.

The fellow had a point about replacing dirt with dirt. So, a middle road might be something that occurs naturally in nature in your area/region like river pebbles or pea pebbles like this. It also feels nice to walk on, and is not sharp edged like some pea gravel from chipped blue rock.

Image

If you use river rock of whatever sizes for other landscaping, it will match well, too.
j :D
BTW: for my use case of wanting an open space area where the kids can run around, where we can have a picnic table/benches, a firepit, etc or even simply having a solid patio area that has good drainage, what type of gravel/rock material and sizing would you recommend that looks nice and can also compact down nicely for *relatively* smooth surface (or one that likens well to having flagstone pavers)? It sounds like we would still want to use heavy landscape fabric so that none of this mixes in with the clay soil?
Flagstone pavers with spaces and the river rock/pebble pea gravel as pictured might be nice. Rounded pebble material won't crush up and turn to fines or dirt or get tracked into your home like sand or DG as you lst pictured in your post. That fine material get's everywhere. Especially if folks wear shoes into the home.

j :D
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 6:49 pm
jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 4:25 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 7:19 am
jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 1:05 am
Sandtrap wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 5:10 pm AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺


Haha, so I just had a local landscape/sofscape guy come out and try to convince me not to do DG. He says he works with it all the time and does installs/maintenance for horse ranches (his own and others), motorbike dirt raceways, and whatever else. He said for our application, it wouldn't make sense to him (in his opinion) and kept trying to sway me to install concrete and just concrete the entire yard. I was trying to explain the whole reason we went this route was for turf removal/replacement and that there are certain guidelines we have to meet in order to qualify for the rebate. His thing was focusing more on the long term value and maintenance aspects - less water usage, more usable space, etc is worth more than any rebate in the long term. I can see his point but I'm also not fond of turning our yard into a full on concrete jungle. Our neighbors across did something like this and it feels way too sterile... I get his point about less water usage but the other point about designing a permeable landscape is for water retention and hopefully capturing and reusing most of the water that we do get from rainfall. I've gotten a bit into the weeds (ha ha) with looking into how to best integrate CA native plants into our landscaping, so trying to be thoughtful of that.

In the end his logic was "you're paying a lot of money for what is basically just more dirt. So you're going to pay to remove dirt and then pay to put dirt back in? Just concrete everything" hahahaha. That said, I asked for a couple alternatives but he didn't seem to give a straightforward answer. Pea gravel I guess was one alternative though...
Pea gravel
Pea pebbles
River pebbles. . .
all sorts of names and types. .
You might be happy with the functionality and dry landscaping look of something like this that drains well, wears well, doesn't turn into fines and mud or plug up your drain systems like DG and is natural screened and washed from nature vs processed smashed crushed granite rocks.

The fellow had a point about replacing dirt with dirt. So, a middle road might be something that occurs naturally in nature in your area/region like river pebbles or pea pebbles like this. It also feels nice to walk on, and is not sharp edged like some pea gravel from chipped blue rock.

Image

If you use river rock of whatever sizes for other landscaping, it will match well, too.
j :D
BTW: for my use case of wanting an open space area where the kids can run around, where we can have a picnic table/benches, a firepit, etc or even simply having a solid patio area that has good drainage, what type of gravel/rock material and sizing would you recommend that looks nice and can also compact down nicely for *relatively* smooth surface (or one that likens well to having flagstone pavers)? It sounds like we would still want to use heavy landscape fabric so that none of this mixes in with the clay soil?
Flagstone pavers with spaces and the river rock/pebble pea gravel as pictured might be nice. Rounded pebble material won't crush up and turn to fines or dirt or get tracked into your home like sand or DG as you lst pictured in your post. That fine material get's everywhere. Especially if folks wear shoes into the home.

j :D

We are a shoes off family but not all of our guests are :) I honestly wouldn't be too worried but would be irritated constantly sweeping DG back into the DG areas from off the concrete, as it sounds like that would be the likeliest thing to happen. We do have a number of flagstone pavers that the previous owners had setup in another area around the front of the home. Perhaps we can salvage and reuse those for the backyard space, although I don't think it would be enough if we were to try to cover the entire space. Perhaps larger flagstones are in order for back there + the pea gravel between. I just don't want to go nuts on the pea gravel because I can see my kids scooping it up by the handful and tossing it over the fence :D

As far as the front courtyard area, I'm still undecided but am thinking perhaps more of the same might be in order. The guy who came by yesterday did give food for thought as far as usable space in the future - my old self from several years ago probably would have opted to go that route but I've become more cognizant of the importance of sustainability and not sending all run-off to the ocean... I do have a vested interest as I enjoy fishing ;)


BTW: for the flagstone install, if we were to hire someone to do it, would it cost more than pouring concrete or laying DG ?
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 7:16 pm <snip>
We are a shoes off family but not all of our guests are :) I honestly wouldn't be too worried but would be irritated constantly sweeping DG back into the DG areas from off the concrete, as it sounds like that would be the likeliest thing to happen. We do have a number of flagstone pavers that the previous owners had setup in another area around the front of the home. Perhaps we can salvage and reuse those for the backyard space, although I don't think it would be enough if we were to try to cover the entire space. Perhaps larger flagstones are in order for back there + the pea gravel between. I just don't want to go nuts on the pea gravel because I can see my kids scooping it up by the handful and tossing it over the fence :D

As far as the front courtyard area, I'm still undecided but am thinking perhaps more of the same might be in order. The guy who came by yesterday did give food for thought as far as usable space in the future - my old self from several years ago probably would have opted to go that route but I've become more cognizant of the importance of sustainability and not sending all run-off to the ocean... I do have a vested interest as I enjoy fishing ;)


BTW: for the flagstone install, if we were to hire someone to do it, would it cost more than pouring concrete or laying DG ?
IMHO:
Flagstone pavers, depending on size and type, might work for you, or might not be as even a total even surface that you seem to be looking for.

DG as you have pictured prior is not a very good type of DG as your area seems to be more level and stay wet and mushy in the rain, so better drainage than that because there is so much fine content. Unless you were to get a different type maybe.

A well layed out cement slab with the proper slope, then edged with your flagstone pavers and washed river rock pebbles or pea gravel might be nice.
For example: Use your pavers and a combo of small to medium river rock for your drainage swales, along walls, etc, then the washed pebbles as additional touches to break up the lines and so forth for a nice look and it ties everything together instead of looking like a piecemeal DIY effort.

The cement slab is higher up front cost but absolutely trouble free and near zero maintenance (zero weeds) over the years.
You can break up a cement slab (look) by having your patio area laid out with the BBQ and benches, and all that, patio cover or portico, etc. Cement can also be colored for not much more. They sprinkle colored powder over it when they are screeding it to get whatever color you want.
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Sat Nov 12, 2022 8:00 am
jplee3 wrote: Fri Nov 11, 2022 7:16 pm <snip>
We are a shoes off family but not all of our guests are :) I honestly wouldn't be too worried but would be irritated constantly sweeping DG back into the DG areas from off the concrete, as it sounds like that would be the likeliest thing to happen. We do have a number of flagstone pavers that the previous owners had setup in another area around the front of the home. Perhaps we can salvage and reuse those for the backyard space, although I don't think it would be enough if we were to try to cover the entire space. Perhaps larger flagstones are in order for back there + the pea gravel between. I just don't want to go nuts on the pea gravel because I can see my kids scooping it up by the handful and tossing it over the fence :D

As far as the front courtyard area, I'm still undecided but am thinking perhaps more of the same might be in order. The guy who came by yesterday did give food for thought as far as usable space in the future - my old self from several years ago probably would have opted to go that route but I've become more cognizant of the importance of sustainability and not sending all run-off to the ocean... I do have a vested interest as I enjoy fishing ;)


BTW: for the flagstone install, if we were to hire someone to do it, would it cost more than pouring concrete or laying DG ?
IMHO:
Flagstone pavers, depending on size and type, might work for you, or might not be as even a total even surface that you seem to be looking for.

DG as you have pictured prior is not a very good type of DG as your area seems to be more level and stay wet and mushy in the rain, so better drainage than that because there is so much fine content. Unless you were to get a different type maybe.

A well layed out cement slab with the proper slope, then edged with your flagstone pavers and washed river rock pebbles or pea gravel might be nice.
For example: Use your pavers and a combo of small to medium river rock for your drainage swales, along walls, etc, then the washed pebbles as additional touches to break up the lines and so forth for a nice look and it ties everything together instead of looking like a piecemeal DIY effort.

The cement slab is higher up front cost but absolutely trouble free and near zero maintenance (zero weeds) over the years.
You can break up a cement slab (look) by having your patio area laid out with the BBQ and benches, and all that, patio cover or portico, etc. Cement can also be colored for not much more. They sprinkle colored powder over it when they are screeding it to get whatever color you want.
We may do a smaller area now with the flagstone pavers. My neighbor showed me his yard again and he has DG in smaller not so broad areas. It seems to work out well for him. He told me that he's not the biggest fan of pea gravel as it tends to get all over the place. I'm not sure if this is as much of a problem with larger sized gravel/stones perhaps 3/4 size or if going with crushed rock. Lots to think about here but now my wife is getting involved with some of the planning, which is good because I do want her onboard.
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

So I started digging back in the yard... my 7yr old son enthusiastically helped me but this is roughly half a day's work:
Image

Maybe renting an excavator/grader will be worth it. Looks like you can get one at Home Depot for $600-700~ delivered and for a daily rental. Not sure if that's "too high" or not. There's also a mini skid steer, which seems like it could do the trick too: https://www.compactpowerrents.com/renta ... er-system/

Part of the issue with heavy equipment is getting it to the backyard. You have to enter through a side gate near our front door which wraps from the front of our home to the side yard to the backyard. The contractors who initially removed our turf were able to fit a mini bobcat through but those guys do this day in and day out whereas I don't. So in my case, if I were to rent something, I'd want something as failproof/dummy proof as there is

I'm estimating around 400sq feet that needs to be excavated. Originally there was an average of 2" below the concrete level (and graded) so if I need to take that down 4" or so that's going to be a lot of dirt (like 5~cu yards probably!). For starters, I've been pushing/dumping the dirt to the outside edges against the block wall. My plan is to create a slope there and plant the hedge plants I towards the base of the slope. I figure this is a decent way to reallocate that dirt without having to worry about getting rid of it. I suppose I could post a "free dirt" ad too hahaha. I don't think all the dirt I need to excavate will still fit in the yard after though. I'm assuming I should remove 3-4" uniform depth (following the existing rough grade) of dirt and when I go to fill with road base (https://sepulveda.com/product/class-ii-base - this is my local supplier down the street), I should fill and grade accordingly as much as possible (seems like using the stake and line method would have to be employed here).
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

Wow!
You've made big progress.

A thought: slope the overall area to drain toward each side of the house so you don't create a swimming pool or pond beyond the patio.

Renting equipment saves your spine and back and knees and neck and so forth. Does a great job not only moving materials but finishing the area to grade vs by hand with shovel. You can do final grading with a very wide gravel rake.

Thanks for the updates.
j :D
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Weathering
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Weathering »

Here's an idea: create a raised garden ((12) 2x10 boards 8 feet in length, placed three high on all four sides for 27" of height) that will utilize the excess soil and create a nice garden area. I did this, but I cut a 28" walkway four feet into the center (imaging a horseshoe shape but with squared corners). That way all areas of the raised garden are accessible. I estimated it would cost $700 to fill it with purchased top soil, so I'm putting my removed grass into it until about 18" below the surface, then a layer of cardboard boxes to keep the grass from growing up (it will decompose over time), then 18" of purchased garden soil.
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 11:54 am Wow!
You've made big progress.

A thought: slope the overall area to drain toward each side of the house so you don't create a swimming pool or pond beyond the patio.

Renting equipment saves your spine and back and knees and neck and so forth. Does a great job not only moving materials but finishing the area to grade vs by hand with shovel. You can do final grading with a very wide gravel rake.

Thanks for the updates.
j :D
Yea, I mean, I got a really good workout on Saturday but it's heavy labor. My left wrist, as you might recall, isn't in the best of shape either (I was close to doing surgery but held off in favor of another round of dedicated OT to see how much it can help if I really give it my best effort).

As far as drainage, there is a drain line running parallel to the concrete patio, so I would need to make sure the grade of the yard that we're excavating is going *towards* the concrete patio so water reaches those surface drains. I'm thinking a channel drain may have been more effective here but I suppose I can always look into installing one at a later time if the surface area drains aren't as effective.

Would you recommend a skid steer unit in my case? Or is the mini excavator (such as the 1.5-2ton one I linked above) really going to be the best thing in my case? When the contractors were moving dirt out of our yard, they were using wheel barrows, because there is a portion of the side yard where there's a step down and step up. I think they were concerned the excavator *with* dirt would be too heavy and possibly cause some damage to the steps (they are brick lined/edged steps). The other concern I have with the excavator is the room to work with it since we have a pergola. I think it would be a pretty tight space to maneuver in. I think the guys who I had do the initial work were running the excavator lengthwise across the yard.

I do currently have a standard gravel rake which I was using to 'flatten' out areas while digging. I don't know, I think we may end up doing a lot of this by hand after all though. I just made sure to wear a brace and I don't think I aggravated anything on my wrist.

EDIT: the other big factor of course is how I'm going to move all the filler material. 5cu yards of road base + however many more cu yards (2-3 possibly) of crushed rock/gravel for the path is a LOT of material to move back and forth (100ft or so up and down steps/short ramps) with a single wheelbarrow :T

Weathering wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:07 pm Here's an idea: create a raised garden ((12) 2x10 boards 8 feet in length, placed three high on all four sides for 27" of height) that will utilize the excess soil and create a nice garden area. I did this, but I cut a 28" walkway four feet into the center (imaging a horseshoe shape but with squared corners). That way all areas of the raised garden are accessible. I estimated it would cost $700 to fill it with purchased top soil, so I'm putting my removed grass into it until about 18" below the surface, then a layer of cardboard boxes to keep the grass from growing up (it will decompose over time), then 18" of purchased garden soil.
That's a possibility. I did want to have a more 'open' area in the yard though for the kids to run around though. I suppose, if I were going to make a planter like that, I could have done it to the left-hand side. It would sort of spill over onto the concrete though. I want to build a shed off to the right next to the crab apple tree too (just to the left of it if looking at the crab apple tree straight on). I can't pile dirt up over there since our neighbors are on the other side and their lot is lower. I think that wouldn't be the best idea, as any dirt piled there could potentially landslide into their property. The only other place I can think of to put a raised garden area might be in the front yard or courtyard areas of our lot. It would be nice to build a brick-lined raised bed where we could also sit though too :).
As far as the soil that would go into it, the soil we have is pretty clay like. I guess if I cardboard mulched it though and used a bunch of getchipdrop mulch on top, that would help and it would all breakdown and make a better soil. 8x8 horseshoe though, I'd really have to think long and hard about where on our property that would make the most sense. Our lot isn't the biggest lot but it's not small by any means (well, at least when it comes to manually moving this much dirt and material around).
Last edited by jplee3 on Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by thedaybeforetoday »

Weathering wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:07 pm Here's an idea: create a raised garden ((12) 2x10 boards 8 feet in length, placed three high on all four sides for 27" of height) that will utilize the excess soil and create a nice garden area. I did this, but I cut a 28" walkway four feet into the center (imaging a horseshoe shape but with squared corners). That way all areas of the raised garden are accessible. I estimated it would cost $700 to fill it with purchased top soil, so I'm putting my removed grass into it until about 18" below the surface, then a layer of cardboard boxes to keep the grass from growing up (it will decompose over time), then 18" of purchased garden soil.
Our garden center owning relative always tells me to use newspaper over cardboard.
Works just as well blocking weeds/grass from growing, decomposes faster for a bigger nitrogen boost, and no glue.
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 5:10 pm AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺


BTW: is Class II Base the same as AB screened? https://sepulveda.com/product/class-ii-base
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:26 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Thu Nov 10, 2022 5:10 pm AB screened and washed not ABC and no dirt or sand is great material to work with as it compacts well yet drains.

some outfits pass off non spec AB as AB mixed with junk or dirt and customers dont know any better

same for higher or lower quality crushed granite etc

j🌺


BTW: is Class II Base the same as AB screened? https://sepulveda.com/product/class-ii-base
Not sure.
Ab Spec is what is highway road base that has lime in it and is screened and washed so no dirt or powder, only particulates. It compacts to near 100 percent per highway spec.

j
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:09 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 11:54 am Wow!
You've made big progress.

A thought: slope the overall area to drain toward each side of the house so you don't create a swimming pool or pond beyond the patio.

Renting equipment saves your spine and back and knees and neck and so forth. Does a great job not only moving materials but finishing the area to grade vs by hand with shovel. You can do final grading with a very wide gravel rake.

Thanks for the updates.
j :D
Yea, I mean, I got a really good workout on Saturday but it's heavy labor. My left wrist, as you might recall, isn't in the best of shape either (I was close to doing surgery but held off in favor of another round of dedicated OT to see how much it can help if I really give it my best effort).

As far as drainage, there is a drain line running parallel to the concrete patio, so I would need to make sure the grade of the yard that we're excavating is going *towards* the concrete patio so water reaches those surface drains. I'm thinking a channel drain may have been more effective here but I suppose I can always look into installing one at a later time if the surface area drains aren't as effective.

Would you recommend a skid steer unit in my case? Or is the mini excavator (such as the 1.5-2ton one I linked above) really going to be the best thing in my case? When the contractors were moving dirt out of our yard, they were using wheel barrows, because there is a portion of the side yard where there's a step down and step up. I think they were concerned the excavator *with* dirt would be too heavy and possibly cause some damage to the steps (they are brick lined/edged steps). The other concern I have with the excavator is the room to work with it since we have a pergola. I think it would be a pretty tight space to maneuver in. I think the guys who I had do the initial work were running the excavator lengthwise across the yard.

I do currently have a standard gravel rake which I was using to 'flatten' out areas while digging. I don't know, I think we may end up doing a lot of this by hand after all though. I just made sure to wear a brace and I don't think I aggravated anything on my wrist.

EDIT: the other big factor of course is how I'm going to move all the filler material. 5cu yards of road base + however many more cu yards (2-3 possibly) of crushed rock/gravel for the path is a LOT of material to move back and forth (100ft or so up and down steps/short ramps) with a single wheelbarrow :T

Weathering wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:07 pm Here's an idea: create a raised garden ((12) 2x10 boards 8 feet in length, placed three high on all four sides for 27" of height) that will utilize the excess soil and create a nice garden area. I did this, but I cut a 28" walkway four feet into the center (imaging a horseshoe shape but with squared corners). That way all areas of the raised garden are accessible. I estimated it would cost $700 to fill it with purchased top soil, so I'm putting my removed grass into it until about 18" below the surface, then a layer of cardboard boxes to keep the grass from growing up (it will decompose over time), then 18" of purchased garden soil.
That's a possibility. I did want to have a more 'open' area in the yard though for the kids to run around though. I suppose, if I were going to make a planter like that, I could have done it to the left-hand side. It would sort of spill over onto the concrete though. I want to build a shed off to the right next to the crab apple tree too (just to the left of it if looking at the crab apple tree straight on). I can't pile dirt up over there since our neighbors are on the other side and their lot is lower. I think that wouldn't be the best idea, as any dirt piled there could potentially landslide into their property. The only other place I can think of to put a raised garden area might be in the front yard or courtyard areas of our lot. It would be nice to build a brick-lined raised bed where we could also sit though too :).
As far as the soil that would go into it, the soil we have is pretty clay like. I guess if I cardboard mulched it though and used a bunch of getchipdrop mulch on top, that would help and it would all breakdown and make a better soil. 8x8 horseshoe though, I'd really have to think long and hard about where on our property that would make the most sense. Our lot isn't the biggest lot but it's not small by any means (well, at least when it comes to manually moving this much dirt and material around).
A skid steer with bucket is made to move a lot of material quickly.
Whereas a mini excavator is for trenching, although the front blade on it is awesome for levelling, but mainly to cover the trenches that it digs.
If the skid steer is on tracks, not tires. . then it is the better. If it is on tracks then it can get into tight places better and won't get stuck.
Don't get anything on tires. Always rent things with tracks. . .unless a backhoe but you don't need that.

Can't you move some of that material to the front of your lot. When you excavate, material expands as you're finding out.

Just move most of the material that you can in a safe way with the skid steer, even if you just fill up the bucket half way so it won't overload. Temporary, you can put some material over your step downs to make a temporary level "road/path" for the skid steer. Then later, dig it out back to the shape and form it was. Just an idea, not knowing what you have to work with.
I've done this sometimes with a full size excavator or backhoe when working on sloped lots. We make temporary level road/paths for the heavy equipment to do things safely, then later reshape the area before we finish.
Anything on tracks has a very low center of gravity, so they work great on slopes and unstable soils.

Attention to drainage is a huge issue here since your retaining wall keeps the water in as well. And, with clay or expansive clay soils, water doesn't drain quickly. So, it's not a good idea to depend 100 percent on your drainage pipe system, rather let things drain naturally to the sides of the house as well as your drainage system, so you have redundancy.
You can slope here and there to create natural subtle "swales" that move water around.
When you have that 100 year rain, then you will be glad that you paid attention to these things rather than a "oops".
j :D
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 1:00 pm
jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:09 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 11:54 am Wow!
You've made big progress.

A thought: slope the overall area to drain toward each side of the house so you don't create a swimming pool or pond beyond the patio.

Renting equipment saves your spine and back and knees and neck and so forth. Does a great job not only moving materials but finishing the area to grade vs by hand with shovel. You can do final grading with a very wide gravel rake.

Thanks for the updates.
j :D
Yea, I mean, I got a really good workout on Saturday but it's heavy labor. My left wrist, as you might recall, isn't in the best of shape either (I was close to doing surgery but held off in favor of another round of dedicated OT to see how much it can help if I really give it my best effort).

As far as drainage, there is a drain line running parallel to the concrete patio, so I would need to make sure the grade of the yard that we're excavating is going *towards* the concrete patio so water reaches those surface drains. I'm thinking a channel drain may have been more effective here but I suppose I can always look into installing one at a later time if the surface area drains aren't as effective.

Would you recommend a skid steer unit in my case? Or is the mini excavator (such as the 1.5-2ton one I linked above) really going to be the best thing in my case? When the contractors were moving dirt out of our yard, they were using wheel barrows, because there is a portion of the side yard where there's a step down and step up. I think they were concerned the excavator *with* dirt would be too heavy and possibly cause some damage to the steps (they are brick lined/edged steps). The other concern I have with the excavator is the room to work with it since we have a pergola. I think it would be a pretty tight space to maneuver in. I think the guys who I had do the initial work were running the excavator lengthwise across the yard.

I do currently have a standard gravel rake which I was using to 'flatten' out areas while digging. I don't know, I think we may end up doing a lot of this by hand after all though. I just made sure to wear a brace and I don't think I aggravated anything on my wrist.

EDIT: the other big factor of course is how I'm going to move all the filler material. 5cu yards of road base + however many more cu yards (2-3 possibly) of crushed rock/gravel for the path is a LOT of material to move back and forth (100ft or so up and down steps/short ramps) with a single wheelbarrow :T

Weathering wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:07 pm Here's an idea: create a raised garden ((12) 2x10 boards 8 feet in length, placed three high on all four sides for 27" of height) that will utilize the excess soil and create a nice garden area. I did this, but I cut a 28" walkway four feet into the center (imaging a horseshoe shape but with squared corners). That way all areas of the raised garden are accessible. I estimated it would cost $700 to fill it with purchased top soil, so I'm putting my removed grass into it until about 18" below the surface, then a layer of cardboard boxes to keep the grass from growing up (it will decompose over time), then 18" of purchased garden soil.
That's a possibility. I did want to have a more 'open' area in the yard though for the kids to run around though. I suppose, if I were going to make a planter like that, I could have done it to the left-hand side. It would sort of spill over onto the concrete though. I want to build a shed off to the right next to the crab apple tree too (just to the left of it if looking at the crab apple tree straight on). I can't pile dirt up over there since our neighbors are on the other side and their lot is lower. I think that wouldn't be the best idea, as any dirt piled there could potentially landslide into their property. The only other place I can think of to put a raised garden area might be in the front yard or courtyard areas of our lot. It would be nice to build a brick-lined raised bed where we could also sit though too :).
As far as the soil that would go into it, the soil we have is pretty clay like. I guess if I cardboard mulched it though and used a bunch of getchipdrop mulch on top, that would help and it would all breakdown and make a better soil. 8x8 horseshoe though, I'd really have to think long and hard about where on our property that would make the most sense. Our lot isn't the biggest lot but it's not small by any means (well, at least when it comes to manually moving this much dirt and material around).
A skid steer with bucket is made to move a lot of material quickly.
Whereas a mini excavator is for trenching, although the front blade on it is awesome for levelling, but mainly to cover the trenches that it digs.
If the skid steer is on tracks, not tires. . then it is the better. If it is on tracks then it can get into tight places better and won't get stuck.
Don't get anything on tires. Always rent things with tracks. . .unless a backhoe but you don't need that.

Can't you move some of that material to the front of your lot. When you excavate, material expands as you're finding out.

Just move most of the material that you can in a safe way with the skid steer, even if you just fill up the bucket half way so it won't overload. Temporary, you can put some material over your step downs to make a temporary level "road/path" for the skid steer. Then later, dig it out back to the shape and form it was. Just an idea, not knowing what you have to work with.
I've done this sometimes with a full size excavator or backhoe when working on sloped lots. We make temporary level road/paths for the heavy equipment to do things safely, then later reshape the area before we finish.
Anything on tracks has a very low center of gravity, so they work great on slopes and unstable soils.

Attention to drainage is a huge issue here since your retaining wall keeps the water in as well. And, with clay or expansive clay soils, water doesn't drain quickly. So, it's not a good idea to depend 100 percent on your drainage pipe system, rather let things drain naturally to the sides of the house as well as your drainage system, so you have redundancy.
You can slope here and there to create natural subtle "swales" that move water around.
When you have that 100 year rain, then you will be glad that you paid attention to these things rather than a "oops".
j :D

Thanks for the info. I'm not sure exactly how I might incorporate swales into the area as far as hardscaping is concerned though. Unless I form the swales with the bare dirt first and the "follow the counters" with the hardscaping?

This is a very rough layout of what we're thinking:
Image


I do have a side alley way that needs attention regarding drainage:
Image

I am planning to fill that strip with river rock (maybe 2-3") but was wondering what to put under it... would roadbase work? The idea is to create a 'drainage' canal of sorts but I'm not 100% sure how. There's a drain at the very end of the corner of the alley (down past where the heatpump and electric panel are at the end) but the problem is that the grade/slope of the alley is quite minimal. This used to be all concrete but water was pooling in the middle, so we had it broken up and repoured about 3/4 out, leaving that strip to allow excess water to drain off into. Perhaps a french drain or channel drain is needed over here?


BTW: in terms of skid steer vs mini excavator, I have been digging into some roots throughout the yard but nothing *major* so far. These are probably 1" at the most in some parts but most of them pull out relatively easy. They are mostly roots from old Ficus trees we had cut down. Given this, would a skid steer still be appropriate? Or do I really want a mini excavator?
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 1:48 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 1:00 pm
jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:09 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 11:54 am Wow!
You've made big progress.

A thought: slope the overall area to drain toward each side of the house so you don't create a swimming pool or pond beyond the patio.

Renting equipment saves your spine and back and knees and neck and so forth. Does a great job not only moving materials but finishing the area to grade vs by hand with shovel. You can do final grading with a very wide gravel rake.

Thanks for the updates.
j :D
Yea, I mean, I got a really good workout on Saturday but it's heavy labor. My left wrist, as you might recall, isn't in the best of shape either (I was close to doing surgery but held off in favor of another round of dedicated OT to see how much it can help if I really give it my best effort).

As far as drainage, there is a drain line running parallel to the concrete patio, so I would need to make sure the grade of the yard that we're excavating is going *towards* the concrete patio so water reaches those surface drains. I'm thinking a channel drain may have been more effective here but I suppose I can always look into installing one at a later time if the surface area drains aren't as effective.

Would you recommend a skid steer unit in my case? Or is the mini excavator (such as the 1.5-2ton one I linked above) really going to be the best thing in my case? When the contractors were moving dirt out of our yard, they were using wheel barrows, because there is a portion of the side yard where there's a step down and step up. I think they were concerned the excavator *with* dirt would be too heavy and possibly cause some damage to the steps (they are brick lined/edged steps). The other concern I have with the excavator is the room to work with it since we have a pergola. I think it would be a pretty tight space to maneuver in. I think the guys who I had do the initial work were running the excavator lengthwise across the yard.

I do currently have a standard gravel rake which I was using to 'flatten' out areas while digging. I don't know, I think we may end up doing a lot of this by hand after all though. I just made sure to wear a brace and I don't think I aggravated anything on my wrist.

EDIT: the other big factor of course is how I'm going to move all the filler material. 5cu yards of road base + however many more cu yards (2-3 possibly) of crushed rock/gravel for the path is a LOT of material to move back and forth (100ft or so up and down steps/short ramps) with a single wheelbarrow :T

Weathering wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:07 pm Here's an idea: create a raised garden ((12) 2x10 boards 8 feet in length, placed three high on all four sides for 27" of height) that will utilize the excess soil and create a nice garden area. I did this, but I cut a 28" walkway four feet into the center (imaging a horseshoe shape but with squared corners). That way all areas of the raised garden are accessible. I estimated it would cost $700 to fill it with purchased top soil, so I'm putting my removed grass into it until about 18" below the surface, then a layer of cardboard boxes to keep the grass from growing up (it will decompose over time), then 18" of purchased garden soil.
That's a possibility. I did want to have a more 'open' area in the yard though for the kids to run around though. I suppose, if I were going to make a planter like that, I could have done it to the left-hand side. It would sort of spill over onto the concrete though. I want to build a shed off to the right next to the crab apple tree too (just to the left of it if looking at the crab apple tree straight on). I can't pile dirt up over there since our neighbors are on the other side and their lot is lower. I think that wouldn't be the best idea, as any dirt piled there could potentially landslide into their property. The only other place I can think of to put a raised garden area might be in the front yard or courtyard areas of our lot. It would be nice to build a brick-lined raised bed where we could also sit though too :).
As far as the soil that would go into it, the soil we have is pretty clay like. I guess if I cardboard mulched it though and used a bunch of getchipdrop mulch on top, that would help and it would all breakdown and make a better soil. 8x8 horseshoe though, I'd really have to think long and hard about where on our property that would make the most sense. Our lot isn't the biggest lot but it's not small by any means (well, at least when it comes to manually moving this much dirt and material around).
A skid steer with bucket is made to move a lot of material quickly.
Whereas a mini excavator is for trenching, although the front blade on it is awesome for levelling, but mainly to cover the trenches that it digs.
If the skid steer is on tracks, not tires. . then it is the better. If it is on tracks then it can get into tight places better and won't get stuck.
Don't get anything on tires. Always rent things with tracks. . .unless a backhoe but you don't need that.

Can't you move some of that material to the front of your lot. When you excavate, material expands as you're finding out.

Just move most of the material that you can in a safe way with the skid steer, even if you just fill up the bucket half way so it won't overload. Temporary, you can put some material over your step downs to make a temporary level "road/path" for the skid steer. Then later, dig it out back to the shape and form it was. Just an idea, not knowing what you have to work with.
I've done this sometimes with a full size excavator or backhoe when working on sloped lots. We make temporary level road/paths for the heavy equipment to do things safely, then later reshape the area before we finish.
Anything on tracks has a very low center of gravity, so they work great on slopes and unstable soils.

Attention to drainage is a huge issue here since your retaining wall keeps the water in as well. And, with clay or expansive clay soils, water doesn't drain quickly. So, it's not a good idea to depend 100 percent on your drainage pipe system, rather let things drain naturally to the sides of the house as well as your drainage system, so you have redundancy.
You can slope here and there to create natural subtle "swales" that move water around.
When you have that 100 year rain, then you will be glad that you paid attention to these things rather than a "oops".
j :D

Thanks for the info. I'm not sure exactly how I might incorporate swales into the area as far as hardscaping is concerned though. Unless I form the swales with the bare dirt first and the "follow the counters" with the hardscaping?

This is a very rough layout of what we're thinking:
Image


I do have a side alley way that needs attention regarding drainage:
Image

I am planning to fill that strip with river rock (maybe 2-3") but was wondering what to put under it... would roadbase work? The idea is to create a 'drainage' canal of sorts but I'm not 100% sure how. There's a drain at the very end of the corner of the alley (down past where the heatpump and electric panel are at the end) but the problem is that the grade/slope of the alley is quite minimal. This used to be all concrete but water was pooling in the middle, so we had it broken up and repoured about 3/4 out, leaving that strip to allow excess water to drain off into. Perhaps a french drain or channel drain is needed over here?


BTW: in terms of skid steer vs mini excavator, I have been digging into some roots throughout the yard but nothing *major* so far. These are probably 1" at the most in some parts but most of them pull out relatively easy. They are mostly roots from old Ficus trees we had cut down. Given this, would a skid steer still be appropriate? Or do I really want a mini excavator?
On the sides where you have a dirt channel, excavate another 4-6 inches, enough to slope it toward where you need the water to go, whatever slope does that, then put in weed block cloth and then 4-6 inch river rock. No base or fill or pebbles because you want the water to flow under and through the larger river rocks. The weed block fabric keeps the rock from disappearing into the soil and prevents mud.

As far as the equipment, whatever you feel fits the area and you can work safetly. For example: I'm confident on a backhoe with decades of "seat time", but have never liked sitting "inside" a skid steer cage and having dirt and debris fall on my lap, also poor visibility, thus, I'm not good on a skid steer though just competent. However, my son loves a skid steer and can do magic with it. So, whatever you feel comfortable with is what you're going to be safe in. And, that's the big one. Safety. You can do damage real fast on hydraulic equipment, to your home, your walls, and yourself.

Regarding your cmu retaining wall. I would really watch out for keeping it able to drain through the weep holes, it does have them I hope. So not to compact too much material against or near it. Othewise, there's a big hydraulic load against it. They are not as strong as they seem.

j
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Topic Author
jplee3
Posts: 1118
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 2:49 pm
jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 1:48 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 1:00 pm
jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:09 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 11:54 am Wow!
You've made big progress.

A thought: slope the overall area to drain toward each side of the house so you don't create a swimming pool or pond beyond the patio.

Renting equipment saves your spine and back and knees and neck and so forth. Does a great job not only moving materials but finishing the area to grade vs by hand with shovel. You can do final grading with a very wide gravel rake.

Thanks for the updates.
j :D
Yea, I mean, I got a really good workout on Saturday but it's heavy labor. My left wrist, as you might recall, isn't in the best of shape either (I was close to doing surgery but held off in favor of another round of dedicated OT to see how much it can help if I really give it my best effort).

As far as drainage, there is a drain line running parallel to the concrete patio, so I would need to make sure the grade of the yard that we're excavating is going *towards* the concrete patio so water reaches those surface drains. I'm thinking a channel drain may have been more effective here but I suppose I can always look into installing one at a later time if the surface area drains aren't as effective.

Would you recommend a skid steer unit in my case? Or is the mini excavator (such as the 1.5-2ton one I linked above) really going to be the best thing in my case? When the contractors were moving dirt out of our yard, they were using wheel barrows, because there is a portion of the side yard where there's a step down and step up. I think they were concerned the excavator *with* dirt would be too heavy and possibly cause some damage to the steps (they are brick lined/edged steps). The other concern I have with the excavator is the room to work with it since we have a pergola. I think it would be a pretty tight space to maneuver in. I think the guys who I had do the initial work were running the excavator lengthwise across the yard.

I do currently have a standard gravel rake which I was using to 'flatten' out areas while digging. I don't know, I think we may end up doing a lot of this by hand after all though. I just made sure to wear a brace and I don't think I aggravated anything on my wrist.

EDIT: the other big factor of course is how I'm going to move all the filler material. 5cu yards of road base + however many more cu yards (2-3 possibly) of crushed rock/gravel for the path is a LOT of material to move back and forth (100ft or so up and down steps/short ramps) with a single wheelbarrow :T

Weathering wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 12:07 pm Here's an idea: create a raised garden ((12) 2x10 boards 8 feet in length, placed three high on all four sides for 27" of height) that will utilize the excess soil and create a nice garden area. I did this, but I cut a 28" walkway four feet into the center (imaging a horseshoe shape but with squared corners). That way all areas of the raised garden are accessible. I estimated it would cost $700 to fill it with purchased top soil, so I'm putting my removed grass into it until about 18" below the surface, then a layer of cardboard boxes to keep the grass from growing up (it will decompose over time), then 18" of purchased garden soil.
That's a possibility. I did want to have a more 'open' area in the yard though for the kids to run around though. I suppose, if I were going to make a planter like that, I could have done it to the left-hand side. It would sort of spill over onto the concrete though. I want to build a shed off to the right next to the crab apple tree too (just to the left of it if looking at the crab apple tree straight on). I can't pile dirt up over there since our neighbors are on the other side and their lot is lower. I think that wouldn't be the best idea, as any dirt piled there could potentially landslide into their property. The only other place I can think of to put a raised garden area might be in the front yard or courtyard areas of our lot. It would be nice to build a brick-lined raised bed where we could also sit though too :).
As far as the soil that would go into it, the soil we have is pretty clay like. I guess if I cardboard mulched it though and used a bunch of getchipdrop mulch on top, that would help and it would all breakdown and make a better soil. 8x8 horseshoe though, I'd really have to think long and hard about where on our property that would make the most sense. Our lot isn't the biggest lot but it's not small by any means (well, at least when it comes to manually moving this much dirt and material around).
A skid steer with bucket is made to move a lot of material quickly.
Whereas a mini excavator is for trenching, although the front blade on it is awesome for levelling, but mainly to cover the trenches that it digs.
If the skid steer is on tracks, not tires. . then it is the better. If it is on tracks then it can get into tight places better and won't get stuck.
Don't get anything on tires. Always rent things with tracks. . .unless a backhoe but you don't need that.

Can't you move some of that material to the front of your lot. When you excavate, material expands as you're finding out.

Just move most of the material that you can in a safe way with the skid steer, even if you just fill up the bucket half way so it won't overload. Temporary, you can put some material over your step downs to make a temporary level "road/path" for the skid steer. Then later, dig it out back to the shape and form it was. Just an idea, not knowing what you have to work with.
I've done this sometimes with a full size excavator or backhoe when working on sloped lots. We make temporary level road/paths for the heavy equipment to do things safely, then later reshape the area before we finish.
Anything on tracks has a very low center of gravity, so they work great on slopes and unstable soils.

Attention to drainage is a huge issue here since your retaining wall keeps the water in as well. And, with clay or expansive clay soils, water doesn't drain quickly. So, it's not a good idea to depend 100 percent on your drainage pipe system, rather let things drain naturally to the sides of the house as well as your drainage system, so you have redundancy.
You can slope here and there to create natural subtle "swales" that move water around.
When you have that 100 year rain, then you will be glad that you paid attention to these things rather than a "oops".
j :D

Thanks for the info. I'm not sure exactly how I might incorporate swales into the area as far as hardscaping is concerned though. Unless I form the swales with the bare dirt first and the "follow the counters" with the hardscaping?

This is a very rough layout of what we're thinking:
Image


I do have a side alley way that needs attention regarding drainage:
Image

I am planning to fill that strip with river rock (maybe 2-3") but was wondering what to put under it... would roadbase work? The idea is to create a 'drainage' canal of sorts but I'm not 100% sure how. There's a drain at the very end of the corner of the alley (down past where the heatpump and electric panel are at the end) but the problem is that the grade/slope of the alley is quite minimal. This used to be all concrete but water was pooling in the middle, so we had it broken up and repoured about 3/4 out, leaving that strip to allow excess water to drain off into. Perhaps a french drain or channel drain is needed over here?


BTW: in terms of skid steer vs mini excavator, I have been digging into some roots throughout the yard but nothing *major* so far. These are probably 1" at the most in some parts but most of them pull out relatively easy. They are mostly roots from old Ficus trees we had cut down. Given this, would a skid steer still be appropriate? Or do I really want a mini excavator?
On the sides where you have a dirt channel, excavate another 4-6 inches, enough to slope it toward where you need the water to go, whatever slope does that, then put in weed block cloth and then 4-6 inch river rock. No base or fill or pebbles because you want the water to flow under and through the larger river rocks. The weed block fabric keeps the rock from disappearing into the soil and prevents mud.

As far as the equipment, whatever you feel fits the area and you can work safetly. For example: I'm confident on a backhoe with decades of "seat time", but have never liked sitting "inside" a skid steer cage and having dirt and debris fall on my lap, also poor visibility, thus, I'm not good on a skid steer though just competent. However, my son loves a skid steer and can do magic with it. So, whatever you feel comfortable with is what you're going to be safe in. And, that's the big one. Safety. You can do damage real fast on hydraulic equipment, to your home, your walls, and yourself.

Regarding your cmu retaining wall. I would really watch out for keeping it able to drain through the weep holes, it does have them I hope. So not to compact too much material against or near it. Othewise, there's a big hydraulic load against it. They are not as strong as they seem.

j
I was just going to ask about the weed fabric/landscape cloth/geotextile fabric etc... I'm on a couple native plant FB groups and everyone says to avoid that fabric/cloth like the plague because it'll just become a huge mess later down the road. I'm thinking that it doesn't make sense in *all* situations but perhaps in *this* situation with the strip in the alley it may (the posts where I asked for advice was primarily around what to do in the areas where I want to hardscape in the larger patio portions). Anyway, I have no intention of planting anything in that alleyway strip and it would strictly be for drainage if anything.

The problem currently is that the drain sitting at the end there is at the same height, roughly, as the concrete that was repoured there (maybe the drain is slightly lower). This drain connects to a curb cut and I'm not sure that there's enough elevation to drop that section of the drain any lower. Wouldn't this this would result in quite a bit of water being 'trapped' in that strip (perhaps under or within the rocks that would be filling it) without really anywhere to go other than into the ground? Or is the idea that the rocks will just help promote drainage *into* the ground and also provide a 'platform' to avoid puddles that can easily/safely be walked on? The only other concern with the larger river rocks is if anyone does step on them, I wouldn't want them to end up mis-stepping and twisting an ankle, etc - this is particularly a concern when navigating around the heat pump, since the heat pump is right at the edge of the concrete.

Oh yea, my friend let me borrow his drone so I was able to get a nice aerial shot of the yard which is pretty helpful:
Image

I'm also considering building a shed but not exactly sure where I would want to put it. A 10x12 lean-to would be nice - I was thinking initially against the fence line of my neighbor. We have a couple courtyards in the front as well which could work but it might be a bit of an eyesore from the street (not that our neighbors really care). Fortunately, we have no HOA so we can pretty much do whatever we want :) (NM, it looks like the city restricts us from putting up a shed in the front yard. I'm not sure if they'll care though if it's our inside courtyard (with a 5') wall where the should would technically be located behind though). To be safe, it would be ideal to locate it in the backyard. I suppose I could also build a smaller shed in the front courtyard area that's not as large :)
Last edited by jplee3 on Mon Jan 23, 2023 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Here's a closer view of the drain (which exits to the curb) that I was referring to in the alley:

Image

Image

So basically use a curtain drain here? Or should I consider burying a french drain or triple wall with a few surface area drains (if triple wall) and then installing a pop-up emitter right next to this existing drain so that the overflow from the pop-up emitter just drains into it?
Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 2:49 pm
Regarding your cmu retaining wall. I would really watch out for keeping it able to drain through the weep holes, it does have them I hope. So not to compact too much material against or near it. Othewise, there's a big hydraulic load against it. They are not as strong as they seem.

j
BTW: our retaining and perimeter walls don't have weep holes. Should I drill holes myself? And if so, how exactly and what diameter? Are your suggesting making weep holes in the retaining wall that the iron fence is sitting on? Or the perimeter wall along the side of the alley? Or both?
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by snackdog »

That space looks too tight for a novice with heavy equipment. Take the $700 it would cost and out it toward casual laborers with shovels. I believe you can find them in the morning around some HD stores. Negotiate an hourly rate. Get two of them. Provide water, lunch and direct supervision.
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

snackdog wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 9:41 pm That space looks too tight for a novice with heavy equipment. Take the $700 it would cost and out it toward casual laborers with shovels. I believe you can find them in the morning around some HD stores. Negotiate an hourly rate. Get two of them. Provide water, lunch and direct supervision.
Yea, definitely not going to use heavy equipment back there in the alley but the rest of the backyard I may still need it regardless. EDIT: I just re-read and I think you're saying our backyard space is too tight in general. I feel like one of those ride-on back mini skid steers is probably the *easiest* to maneuver out of any others. I don't know how wide those are but our gate is about 4-5" wide. Looks like one of the mini skid steer units is 3-1/2' wide roughly: https://www.compactpowerrents.com/renta ... er-system/

Assuming they're not difficult to navigate, I think it would work out OK for me. The big question is how difficult it actually is to drive one of these

Here is a Youtube video of the one I linked. It looks fairly simple to use, not huge, and seems like it would be a really big help actually:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhcIN9l ... nel=AMACSA

I'm pretty sure I'm going to rent one of these Toros after watching more videos. Possibly the ride-on one.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Sandtrap »

jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 9:04 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 2:49 pm
Regarding your cmu retaining wall. I would really watch out for keeping it able to drain through the weep holes, it does have them I hope. So not to compact too much material against or near it. Othewise, there's a big hydraulic load against it. They are not as strong as they seem.

j
BTW: our retaining and perimeter walls don't have weep holes. Should I drill holes myself? And if so, how exactly and what diameter? Are your suggesting making weep holes in the retaining wall that the iron fence is sitting on? Or the perimeter wall along the side of the alley? Or both?
Nothing you can do about it.
Many local codes, especially in more code driven, or higher standard areas, require "weep" holes every so many feet and every so many row heights on retaining walls. Notice the one's along the highway have drainage holes. This is so water can "weep" out and not create a lateral load on the wall. In "some" places, retaining walls made of CMU have to have vertical steel internal reinforcement every other cell and horizontal, every 3 courses. That varies per area. Some are fully grouted. Some every other cell for foundation as well as retaining. But, in "loose code areas" anything is possible. I've seen them fall down. I've seen brand new none load bearing CMU walls 5 feet in height and hundreds of feet long for a brand new subdivision fall down as a result of marginal reinforcement and cell fill.

Anyway. Just leave it alone.
If it is over 5 feet tall, ask a masonry contractor to come look at it if you are really concerned and it looks like it's leaning over or has cracks and loose grout along the grout lines or that and rust stains or is heavily effervescing.

How tall is it?

j :D
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Topic Author
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Sandtrap wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 7:26 am
jplee3 wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 9:04 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 2:49 pm
Regarding your cmu retaining wall. I would really watch out for keeping it able to drain through the weep holes, it does have them I hope. So not to compact too much material against or near it. Othewise, there's a big hydraulic load against it. They are not as strong as they seem.

j
BTW: our retaining and perimeter walls don't have weep holes. Should I drill holes myself? And if so, how exactly and what diameter? Are your suggesting making weep holes in the retaining wall that the iron fence is sitting on? Or the perimeter wall along the side of the alley? Or both?
Nothing you can do about it.
Many local codes, especially in more code driven, or higher standard areas, require "weep" holes every so many feet and every so many row heights on retaining walls. Notice the one's along the highway have drainage holes. This is so water can "weep" out and not create a lateral load on the wall. In "some" places, retaining walls made of CMU have to have vertical steel internal reinforcement every other cell and horizontal, every 3 courses. That varies per area. Some are fully grouted. Some every other cell for foundation as well as retaining. But, in "loose code areas" anything is possible. I've seen them fall down. I've seen brand new none load bearing CMU walls 5 feet in height and hundreds of feet long for a brand new subdivision fall down as a result of marginal reinforcement and cell fill.

Anyway. Just leave it alone.
If it is over 5 feet tall, ask a masonry contractor to come look at it if you are really concerned and it looks like it's leaning over or has cracks and loose grout along the grout lines or that and rust stains or is heavily effervescing.

How tall is it?



j :D
I think the walls are probably around 6ft high? I'd have to go out and measure. The retaining wall itself (which has the iron fence on top) is probably around 2' and the iron fence on top is maybe 4-5'? There are some cracks in parts of the retaining wall but I haven't noticed anything 'leaning' over - then again, I haven't inspected very closely either. The other side of the fence, the previous owner stuck pots of bamboo out there and let it grow rampantly. Now there are rhizomes behind that wall. There's a drainage canal maybe around 50-75yds up the hill from our fence as well, and a number of trees. *Hopefully* this prevents erosion of the hillside. One other big concern I have is with several *tall* eucalyptus trees behind our property and on that hill. They have grown to be probably close to 100' or more - a neighbor down the street had one on her lot that fell over into the street and damaged one or two of the neighbors' cars. I'd be worried about one of those things falling over and crashing down on our roof!! I called the city to request that they cut them down or to a safer size but haven't heard back... anyway, I digress. For the yard stuff, I think I need to strategically plan out renting the skid steer along with the materials that I intend to backfill into the excavated spots. I'm *hoping* that if I rented the skid steer, I'd be able to finish grading the yard in a day or less and then take one more day to backfill with the material. I don't know how much time I should be allotting but obviously I don't want to be renting the skid steer for more than 2-3 days.


BTW: wanted to ask too but when renting heavy equipment from places like Home Depot, etc, is it always a good idea to purchase the damage protection/insurance they offer?
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jplee3
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Current progress:
Image

Do I need to try to 'grade' the dirt and eliminate potholes, etc as much as possible?

I had the licensed/bonded/insured contractor come out (who was referred to me by the honest and unlicensed contractor) and he wants to charge me $3k just for excavation/grading and another $2800 to fill & compact with road base... the quote from the honest/unlicensed contractor was $2200 to excavate/grade AND fill (but not compact) the road base. BTW: The honest/unlicensed guy came recommended by way of the local material yard I contacted for quotes on road base, etc when I asked if they can also help with installs.

Anyway, the licensed contractor who came out sure did a lot of talking. He started playing the role of 'designer' and told me that I should build a bbq island and just fill the entire space with concrete... that was just the tip of the iceberg *sigh* - it seemed clear to me that he was trying to get me to ultimately spend more $$$
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Cheez-It Guy
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Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by Cheez-It Guy »

Have you considered using depleted uranium instead? Much denser, and only slightly radioactive.
Topic Author
jplee3
Posts: 1118
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:15 pm

Re: Decomposed Granite suggestions

Post by jplee3 »

Cheez-It Guy wrote: Sat Jan 28, 2023 5:21 pm Have you considered using depleted uranium instead? Much denser, and only slightly radioactive.
Great idea. I'll consider that for my next project: nuclear shed.
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