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keyser soze 04-21-2008 01:47 PM

My yard is ugly and I don't know an easy way to fix it.
I have gravel in several areas of my yard. Different areas have different types and densities of gravel. I'm just now getting around to fixing the yard and I have no idea how to fix this aside from getting out the rigid rake and spending 40-60 hours raking out all of the gravel.

I really hope there's an easier way. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Here's some pics.

The driveway is at the bottom of the pic and I drew a line about where the yard should start. This gravel has obviously been there a long time and the driveway would look really goofy going up there so I definitely want to fix it.

This is a closeup of the area right above the red line in the first pic. Keys only included for size reference.

And one of another section of the yard (different side of the house)

Also, I want to fix this little area but I don't think throwing grass seed at it will help a whole lot. Any suggestions?

Thanks again for any help with this.

LawnGuyLandSparky 04-21-2008 02:41 PM

You have 2 choices...

Either truck in many qubic yards of fill dirt and topsoil and plant a new lawn, or (if your entire soil isn't permeated by this gravel) get the existing soil combed out.

My vote is for the 1st suggestion.

keyser soze 04-21-2008 03:35 PM

The 1st one sounds expensive. I'd almost rather take out dirt since that section of yard is above the level of the foundation anyway. Either option is out of my price range right now though.

Any easier way to comb the gravel than a rake and lots of pain? Maybe wait until after a good rain at least?

Thanks a lot for the help.

sestivers 04-21-2008 04:39 PM

I would pay someone who knows how to operate a bobcat or skid steer to scrape down the whole area. Have him scrape a nice edge for your driveway. You might be able to find someone on Craigslist for $30-40 per hour and this would take him only a few hours.

Then install edging along the driveway, and get some topsoil to replace what was scraped away. The bobcat guy can spread the topsoil for you, saving a lot of time. Plant new grass.

Then get new gravel for your driveway.

Finally, get rid of the chain-link fence. To me, any chain-link fence looks worse than your yard does.

keyser soze 04-21-2008 05:10 PM

The bobcat might be a feasible solution. I thought of renting one myself but I'd waste too much time learning how to use it effectively and then I'd be sore to boot.

I wish I could get rid of the fence but it's the neighbors unfortunately. :(

I'm going to go poke around some more now to see how deep the gravel goes. If it's all on top I may try to rake it up but will probably end up hiring someone to do it for me.

I do have access to a small (and I mean small) tractor that has a scrape blade and a wide front bucket on it... Would that work? This thing will barely carry a bucket of dirt up a small hill so I'm not sure it has the power to drag through this stuff. It's packed down really tight. I could probably find somewhere in the yard to move this stuff to avoiding the dump truck fees. Or maybe rent a dumpster for the dirt/gravel? Lost cause?

Thanks. :)

keyser soze 04-21-2008 06:27 PM

Well, the rake idea is most definitely insufficient. The gravel is at least 2 or 3 inches deep in the dirt. I'm thinking about leaving it in place and covering it up with new dirt. I didn't want to spend that much but I don't know of another way really. :(

Randell Tarin 04-21-2008 11:03 PM

If you're wanting a quick fix that is inexpensive....there isn't one.

You are going to have to either put in some hard work or money into this project. If it's your labor you want to save, then pay someone else to do it. If it's money you want to save, then do all the work yourself.

The easiest way and a good comprimise has already been suggested. If your yard is graded correctly for drainage, then several yards of good top-soil could be brought in for the same price you would pay to rent a Bob-Cat for a day.

You can then manually spread the dirt using a shovel and a rake. It's not easy, but it can be done.

sestivers 04-22-2008 11:17 AM

You should really consider how much your time is worth to you. For example, you could rent a bobcat for a day for probably $250 and waste your first few hours learning how to use it. Instead, you could pay someone who has his own bobcat and knows how to use it accurately and efficiently $40/hour for four hours. While he's doing the work you could be doing something else that you're more capable of handling on your own. On the other hand, trying to do this "inexpensively" by your own admission will take 40+ hours of meticulous and difficult manual labor. To me, I'd rather work a week of overtime and be paid for it!

Here is a picture of what my driveway (look familiar?) looked like before I paid a guy to scrape it with a skid steer. Then he spread the fresh gravel for me. He also mentored an accomplice on the skid steer and was done in less than four hours. He asked for $140 and I tipped him $20. Unfortunately I don't have the "after" picture.

Like Randell said, you're going to need additional dirt anyway, so you might as well get that delivered in time to plant grass while it's still spring.

Robert131 05-05-2008 07:43 PM

One option for acquiring fill dirt is to find construction sites nearby where they are looking to get rid of some dirt. Most will happily drop it off for free. Then all you have to do is spread it around. If you could get 4-6 inches of fill down, you could manage to create a decent lawn with decent drainage (rocks) below.

PaddyKevin 05-22-2008 09:16 AM

Great Landscaping Opportunity
This is not so much of a problem as it is an opportunty. The gravel that is in the soil will actually improve drainage and aeration and, if you work atop it, can be an assett. If it was my property I would equal amounts of compost, construction sand and top soil in sufficient quantity to build the area up four to six inches. Then design a planting scheme that includes not just lawn but beds for shrubs and flowering plants

kimberland30 05-22-2008 12:20 PM

You've been given great advice so far. I'd choose to cover the gravel with dirt and start over. I'd also somehow edge your driveway to keep the gravel from spreading into areas where you don't want it to. Refilling the gravel driveway is a great idea too.

Dirt and gravel isn't that expensive compared to renting equipment. We just had 6 yards of a nice compost/topsoil blend delivered to our house for $175.00 (free delivery with a min. of 6 yards).

I borrowed a truck from work and went to our local stone yard (Vulcan Materials) and picked up 5 tons of #57 stone for about the same cost as the dirt. By going ourselves, I saved about $100 (the difference in cost of the stone plus delivery). However, I first took a pick up truck that only held about 3/4 of a ton. I decided to borrow a dump truck and got the rest of the stone in one trip. Plus we got to dump it where we wanted instead of having to scoop it out of the back of the truck.

Good luck!

keyser soze 06-29-2008 10:22 PM

I'm embarrassed. I thought I was subscribed to this thread and I wasn't.

You all have really god suggestions that I might be able to afford in the near future. I'll be sure to post pics as soon as I get the work done.

sestivers, great point about what time is worth. I try to use that mindset for everything these days.

Thanks all.

HandyMac 06-30-2008 11:04 AM


Where in NC are you? I would be happy to take a look at it if you aren't far from Charlotte.


keyser soze 06-30-2008 11:08 AM

I'm about 30 minutes east of Asheville off 40. That might be too far unless you happened to be up this way for something else.

Thanks a ton for the offer though. :thumbsup:

HandyMac 06-30-2008 02:21 PM

2 Attachment(s)

If you run into a snag let me know, maybe we can work something out. Post some pics as you go along - I would be interested. Here are some of the things we have done. Sorry not all loaded.


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