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Old 07-19-2012, 07:17 PM   #1
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lawn slopes towards house... can I fix this?

Greetings all!

I've just bought a new house. The yard has a nice size back patio, a gas firepit, a retaining wall and an apple tree. I love it. It needs a LOT of work, bushes (read: WEEDS) need to be removed. The apple tree has been sadly neglected, there is no more grass. So, I went out and turned on the barely adequate sprinklers and watched the water dribble across the clay packed earth of my yard... towards my house.

How do I go about excavating and re-surfacing the yard so it tilts AWAY from my house? There is a retaining wall at the back of the property that is huge.

I've attached photos. I took it from the back door, looking towards the back of the property.

I want to have those Italian Cypress removed as they are about twenty feet high and scare me. I'll have that done by a professional tree person, which will just about wipe out my budget for the yard.

Can I do the landscaping myself? Do I get a bobcat, or some kind of rototiller? If I dig down into the other end of the yard, I'm afraid the foundation of the lower retaining wall will be exposed. Do I need to get a mason in here?

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Old 07-19-2012, 09:26 PM   #2
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If you have to raise or lower the level of the land around a tree, chances are you will kill the tree.

You bought a lousy lot and will have to make do. You may be able to regrade it to have the water flow down away from the house but collect several feet shy of the retaining wall and/or go around to the front out to the street. If you know how to operate a bobcat then you can do it yourself. A rototiller is too small for that kind of job.

The retaining wall in back suggests that the slope was probably a lot worse than it is now.


The good conscientious technician or serviceperson will carry extra oils and lubricants in case the new pump did not come with oil or the oil was accidentally spilled, so the service call can be completed without an extra visit.

Last edited by AllanJ; 07-19-2012 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:26 PM   #3
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So HOW do I regrade the ground with the bobcat? All of the homes in this area have retaining walls, as the area was built around forty years or so ago on sloping land. I've spoken to neighbors and the yards are in various states. Most are level, though a lot of them now have pools so I don't know how they were before the pools were dug.

From what I've seen and read, it seems the yard should be lower than the slab as well. It SEEMS like I'd have to remove a lot of soil, but I don't know if that is the case. I have a pal who works with trees and he has told me he can lower the tree once I figure out what to do about the slope.

I'm not sure if this is a situation that would require someone with expertise in retaining walls like a structural engineer or if I can go ahead and excavate about 6 inches of soil and slope it towards the retaining wall.
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Old 07-21-2012, 12:35 AM   #4
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So basically you are saying that you live in a funnel, and want to know what to do? I would say first find the person that talked you into signing that contract for the home purchase (mirror helps), second take a step back and reassess the situation.

If there are no signs for how many years the home/structure has been there for water damage, you are worrying about what again?
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Old 07-22-2012, 10:59 AM   #5
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You've got pretty tight quarters there, so renting a bobcat that you have no experience using would be a challenge. You wouldn't want to dig out the bottom of your retaining wall then have water pool at the wall either. If I owned the property, I'd envision a dry creek bed integrated into a garden that could hopefully wrap around the house to a better drainage area? Hard to say if you can do that by these photos. Getting grass down would also help.
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