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Front Page » March 27, 2014 » Focus » Surprises you would rather not encounter
Published 565 days ago

Surprises you would rather not encounter

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Anyone who has ever put a yard in at a brand new house knows the routine.

You start out with something you think you would like to do, and usually end up with something different.

While a person or persons who are buying or building a new home are thinking about counter top colors, carpet design and roofing type among many considerations, they often neglect to think about what the yard might look like. The inside almost always takes precedence over the outside during construction.

But once moved in, everyone wants a beautiful yard and dirt, rocks and weeds don't make it easy.

I have discovered the pitfalls of yard planning and execution a number of times in my life. And when one starts putting in a yard there are a lot of dirty little secrets one discovers. Here are some of them.

•Many contractors, whether they be the general or the subs do like to haul their trash away. Particularly heavy stuff like brick, block and pipe. It may be waiting for you to excavate it right in the middle of the back or front yard, or almost always where you are planning on putting in post holes for a fence.

•Speaking of fences, don't take any ones word for what the properly line is between you and that vacant lot next door, except that of a surveyor. That empty lot could one day have a home built on it and neighbors don't particularly like it when you put your fence four feet onto their property, even if it was "a long time ago."

•Utility lines are seldom placed where you think they are even if you have an as-built plot plan. As-built usually means as someone thought it was built, not as it actually is. If you are planting more than a pansy in any new yard (and often old ones too) be sure to call Blue Stakes so you don't upset the fine balance of utilities in your neighborhood. Hitting any kind of line can also be costly to you too.

•Concrete can appear anywhere. Usually it shows up where you want to dig a hole for a water feature or some other project that requires excavation. Concrete comes in many forms too. It can come in small or large chunks, broken off from the smoother cement that appears where the driveway or walkways are. Sometimes it comes as big globs where the cement truck driver decided to clean out his truck. This is usually someone else concrete leftovers because he drove down the street so as not to dump it in the yard where he helped lay the concrete.

•Old equipment sometimes appears under the ground as well. Maybe your new house was built where a hay field once lay and some farmer left an old worn out rake or plow in its tracks when it died or broke. When confronted by construction personnel, this kind of thing sometimes just gets the fill from the foundation/basement poured over it.

•The soil that you were told was pure topsoil may be a mixture of clay, rocks, sand as well as other undiscernable objects.. Don't plan on growing much in it, or at least anything you would want to grow. However if you like Ironweeds they will thrive in it. That is true xeriscaping.

•Don't plan on the yard being level once the contractors are done, nor should you plan on it staying that way. Plan on bringing in fill or at least rearranging the dirt in the yard with a tractor. Also remember that utility line trenches are seldom compacted when back filled. If the ground has been dry since they were laid, there is a good chance when it gets wet they will turn into mini-Grand Canyons. Laying sod or putting any kind of patio block over them before settling is done is not something you want to do unless you are really into extra work for the health of it.

Okay, its not like all these things can't be fixed but remember that some of them don't show up for years, particularly if you don't start on putting the yard in right away. In any of these cases do-it-yourself labor to solve the problems is the cheapest way to solve them, but just remember that concrete is very heavy and good dirt is not cheap.

It's your call.

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March 27, 2014
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