I've recently moved into a house with a largish garden and am looking
to landscape a 2 acre paddock alongside.
The paddock has 1 large trench down it, around 4ft deep and 12ft wide
running about 100 yds. It make mowing and groundcare a nightmare as my
tractor feels like its going to tip if I drive along it and misses
bits if I drive across it. The rest of the field also has shallower
channels/undulations of around 1ft deep by 10ft wide, which cause
Maybe the undulations were man-made to increase the surface area, but
in any case I would like to level it out but don't know where to
I've got an old JCB digger and a tractor and trailer, but I would
imagine I would need literally hundreds of tons of topsoil to level
I considered getting a power harrow for the undulations, would this
work? I can't see much choice but to get topsoil for the large trench
or make it into a pond, but am not keen on a pond there.
I'm with Toni, as far as hiring a pro. It'll probably take them a day or
three with a bulldozer. It'll take you forever with your little machines.
Any chance those undulations were man-made to control where water went
during heavy rains? Mess with them and the pond you don't want could end up
in your front yard or your cellar.
That 4' deep 12' wide 300' long ditch is there for a reason... I were
you I'd wait for some heavy rains to see what happens.... I have a
ditch about those dimensions crossing my front yard, about twice a
year it fills to the top and would be great for white water
canoing.... if I filled it in my house could be under water. In fact
this past spring there were some exceptionally heavy rains and my
ditch suffered some heavy erosion, just cost me $3,500 to have it
repaired. The entire lengh needed to be reshaped and its capaicity
increased to more easily accept the volume which is determined by a 4'
diameter culvert further upstream. The entire bed was covered with a
heavy matting and more than 60 cubic yards of stone applied.
Heavy erosion in April, that pipe is the outlet from my french drain.
Repair was made just two weeks ago
Rained last week so there's some water flowing. They returned the
next morning with a load of topsoil to repair the ruts from their
equipment and they reseeded:
I think they did a good job, I'm pleased.
I still need to put back the plantings that washed away, I plan to do
that in the spring so I'll have time to see how it holds up to the
winter and spring thaw but I expect it will be fine, the company that
did the job knows what they're doing, this was a piddly nothing job
they slipped in between their commercial work. After watching that
fellow handle that excavator I wouldn't suggest anyone rent one and
try it themself, this guy could handle that machine like a skilled
surgeon, he could pick a pebble with more finess than you can pick
your nose. This was their smallest excavator, they have much larger,
their largest can carry this little one in it's bucket. Anytime I
need this kind of work done I don't even bother calling anyone else.
They've done a number of jobs for me and I always feel I got the best
job at the best price. They do the job right away and finish with
expediency, they have no time to screw around. The owner looked at
the job the afternoon before and the job was begun early the next
morning and completed that day, except for the topsoil and reseeding,
which was completed by noon the following day. I don't like doing
business with outfits that string you along... they do the work, I
pay them, done.
Some of these people are artists. I watched a crew create a one acre pond
for a friend. The excavator operator was a fisherman like my friend, and he
got a kick out of creating various kinds of structure that fish like to hang
around. It worked. The fish like the various lumps and ridges.
This is what happens to kids who aren't afraid of hard work and
getting their hands dirty... those guys really work hard. I can't
tell you how many times I've tried to hire a local teenager to do a
days work and they refuse... not three weeks ago I asked a 16 year old
neighbor boy if he'd clean my gutters and downspouts for $40...
probably no more than two hours work and I supply the ladders (and not
rickety, these are Sears best 300lb jobbies) and it's only a one story
house... and this is a kid from a very poor family and I know for a
fact he gets no allowance... he didn't have time... time, he coulda
picked his time. I did it myself, took me an hour, I only asked
because I'm old, my legs are shot and so I don't like to climb
anymore. Today's young folks are useless, I'm not surprised that so
many are losers. This is the second time he refused to help me do a
job, two years ago I asked him if he'd dig two holes and help me plant
two trees, wasn't very big trees, those two little crab apples in the
pictures I posted, they were in five gallon pots. I offered him
$50... he was busy. Sheesh, when I was a young teen I'd shovel out a
neighbor's walk, driveway, whatever from a two foot snowfall for 50
cents and be happy for the opportunity... bought me food for my
tropical fish. There's something seriously diseased about today's
The web site's gorgeous, and although those pictures might bore some people,
it's obvious they put them there because they're proud of their attention to
You found a dud. Keep looking. You might try calling the nearest high school
and ask if they have a system for matching up people with kids who want to
do odd jobs. Our school did that, with great success, and considering the
guy who ran the program, I doubt it was his idea.
Through that system, my son got hooked up with an old woman who needed some
major yard cleanup done. Leaves, fallen branches, a little weeding, that
sort of thing. She offered $60.00. When he got home, he said he was done
with the yard in an hour, and felt wrong taking $60.00, so he cleaned her
gutters and asked if she needed anything else done. She said her screen door
didn't close properly. He called me, I came over with some tools, and he
(with me advising) removed the striker plate (on the door jamb) and
reinstalled it correctly. Then, he felt he'd done $60.00 worth of work.
There are some good ones out there.
My son screwed up the chance to make about a grand doing some painting for a
neighbor, though. The guy asked if he had any experience. My son said "My
dad will teach me". I told him he could get some hands-on experience, since
his bedroom needed to be repainted. He thought he could just jump right in
and paint. But, after removing door hardware and electrical plates, and
doing all the taping, he began to get discouraged. He got the walls painted,
and then I told him he had to reverse the taping and do the molding.
Suddenly, he became distracted by something insurmountable: Girlfriend. That
was mid-August. The room's still not done. I told the neighbor to come over
and check out the half-done job. The neighbor said "You could've taken the
girlfriend out to some nice dinners with $1000.00. To bad. I'll hire someone
else. See ya bye."
As others have suggested, that large trench may be supplying drainage
of your land or adjacent land. It would be very unwise to disturb it
until you are sure about that. An engineer's advice could save you
far more than his cost.
If it is a drainage situation, you are not necessarily stuck with it.
It could be replaced by a culvert and covered over level with the
surrounding land, solving your problem and not creating a new one.
Again an engineer can advise.
Having been a little girl who played with her brother's Tonka toys.......and
then spent about 30 years working heavy construction, a major portion which
was SWM (surface water management). A culvert *could* cause more problems
than you solve. There's usually more to it than tossing a pipe in a ditch
and covering it up. Depending on how much water flows through that ditch and
where it comes from......water flows down hill (repeat this often) and can
come from further away than you realize during rainy season. You'd be better
off to let a winter and spring pass to see just what kind of flow you have
and where it's coming from and flowing to before deciding to cover up or
level things out. Water from quite a distance away can even perk into your
property depending on soil and rock strata. Culverts are notorious for
jamming up with debris and then you can have an even more serious problem.
The size and length of a culvert is directly proportional with headaches
created by the culvert if not properly installed. Get rain gear and good
boots and be ready with potato hoes and anything else you have to clear the
blockage if you are set on an immediate DIY culvert solution. Culverts can
also breed thriving colonies of unwanted insects, reptiles and vermin with
the proper conditions during the seasons. Remember that every house roof,
driveway, patio and paved surface uphill from this ditch (and your property
in general), and that could be further away than the obvious, is going to
just direct that much more water down hill to your ditch and/or drainage
If you don't have the knowledge or experience or just plain common sense to
direct and manage water flow take the previous advise and either get GOOD
professionals to do the job or get an hydrologic study done before you start
your water management/terra reconstruction. A few hundred dollars spent
wisely can save you thousands later on. Another thing to understand is that
anything you do on your property redirecting water could possibly have an
impact on somebody else's below your grade, even it isn't obvious to you or
within sight line......you then just may have even bigger and more expensive
legal problems on your hands.
Do it right and you'll only have to do it once.
A culvert large enough to handle the volume of water that is likely to
occur in a ditch the size described would probably be cost
prohibitive. From discussing that same possiblility with my own
project I know that an undertaking of that magnetude would cost in
excess of $100,000. And still there is no guarantee there won't be
wash outs necessitating expensive repairs on a regular basis. A pipe
that diameter for that distance is not a culvert anymore, now you're
The OP needs to observe for a year or two and ask the locals about
that ditch before making any decisions... often such a large ditch is
very seasonal, can be bone dry most of the time, part of the time with
normal rains there will be no more than a trickle, but then all of a
sudden something lets loose and it can fill with a torrent to
overflowing... may not be a spring thaw, could be from many miles away
when beaver do some reengineering.
I would want to know why these earthworks were created before I got rid of
them. People don't generally build such for no reason. I would also be
looking at the depth of topsoil and the quality of subsoil before commencing
any major digging.
Level is where, comparing any two points, any surface point is equidistant
from the center of the earth.
Two ways. Move the high soil to the low soil until that condition is met.
Add soil to the low soil until that condition is met. Or, the combination
of the two.
Profound is we're here due to a chance arrangement
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