The coldest days of the year are here! The community must have taken our winter water line maintenance tips to heart, as our digging equipment is getting a much deserved rest.
A slow season for our equipment doesn’t mean our crew is resting. We are keeping busy with the winter work of keeping our fleet in great shape.
Take our John Deere 750J dozer.
Every year we strip and clean the dozer. This means removing all four belly pans and six side sheets to jack up the cab and blow out all of the crevices where dirt and sediment can hide.
Sometimes our spa vacation turns into a total makeover. In 2020 our dozer got new tracks and rollers and looks like a new machine.
The equipment shines inside and out. See the difference!
This year it is our excavator's turn for a makeover. We are replacing the revels on our excavator.
Not all of our equipment is on a winter break. Did you know we offer snow removal services? Here is an early morning photo with Brad and his little helper Judd.
We're all geared up for the year! Contact us for more information on snow removal or to get on the schedule for 2023.
Gravel Grading and Excavating is here for your frozen pipe emergencies… But we would rather meet under better circumstances, like:
As the ground around our water pipes freezes and thaws, it grows and expands. Pipes can heave and break from the movement which makes for a big mess and limited access to your family’s most important resource: Water.
Frozen Pipe PRevention
Let’s prevent that headache if we can. First, make a list of everything in your home and yard that uses water and needs maintenance. There’s more than just the obvious. Does water run to your dryer for a steam cycle? Do you have outdoor faucets? Keep these appliances in good working order.
Consider outdoor water sources. Any outdoor hoses out of use for the winter should be disconnected and drained. Make sure the water supplying those hoses is turned off at the source: Something we can forget with hose attachments.
Keep garage doors closed to retain heat to your home. Pipes on the inside walls of your home are not insulated well enough to withstand outdoor winter temperatures. Don’t inadvertently turn an inside wall into an outside one with a wide open garage door.
If you do have pipes in unheated areas, like basements, garages, or outbuildings, do what you can to get them insulated.
Frozen Pipe PRevention in Extreme Cold
Those are all preventative measures you can take right now, but there is more to do in extreme cold.
Our Iowa homes are tough, but we do enough work to know that frozen pipes still happen on the coldest nights.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and happy new year, and hope to not visit until warmer weather returns. Hopefully we’ll see you in the spring with exciting build projects instead of troublesome repairs.
Working in dirt with heavy machinery every day might make you think we are just tough guys with no time for sappy stuff. But we have a lot to feel grateful for and we’re not ashamed to share it. This year, especially for Thanksgiving, we put together a list of gratitudes to show our soft side.
(Ok, and to show off some cool projects from the last year!)
We are thankful for big machines.
We have a lot in common with the little kids at the table who don’t really understand what it means to be thankful, but they really like construction equipment. So when it’s their turn to share what they are thankful for, they say “Trucks!” or “Tractors!” We never really grew out of that stage.
We get to “play” on REAL construction equipment every day. We’re livin’ life in an Ertl catalog and our inner preschool kid couldn’t be happier.
L to R: Clearing the way for a livestock building with laser leveling equipment; Reshaping a waterway; Building a feed bunker
We are thankful for our careers.
Not only do we get to play with our big toys every day, it’s our actual job. We are grateful for the opportunity to support our families doing what we love.
We welcomed Tillie Mae to the third generation of Gravel Grading and Excavating this August
We are thankful for our customers.
Without you, grading and excavating would just be a VERY expensive hobby. Thank you for trusting us with your important projects. We love to be a part of building a family home, improving farmland, and digging ponds. We’re helping people build their dreams. It’s so humbling to be in our community and see a part we have played in building it.
We are thankful for our community.
We take great pride in helping out with public works projects. We know the work we do helps our citizens enjoy a safer, more convenient, and more accessible city. We live with our families in these local communities too, so we are invested in keeping them at their best.
Clockwise from top left: Improvements to the Cascade USPS building; Improvements to concrete steps at the River Park in Cascade; Cascade Cougars Softball Complex; Cascade Hometown Days float
Happy Thanksgiving from Gravel Grading and Excavating. This time of year especially, we are so grateful for you.
We offer a wide range of services at Gravel Grading and Excavating. None are quite so specialized as Laser Grading.
What is Laser Grading?
Laser grading is the process of using specialized lasers to assist in preparing an absolutely level site. A laser is placed at a fixed point. It can be stationary on a tripod or held by a crew member. Another laser is attached to our equipment. The lasers communicate to keep very precise measurements.
Why is laser Grading Necessary?
Laser grading is able to achieve miniscule standards compared to our giant equipment. To put this into perspective, imagine the size of a baseball field. The highest slope suggested for a baseball field is .5%. That means over the whole baseball field, there can be no more than ½ inch difference in elevation!
How is Laser Grading Used?
Our favorite application of laser grading is in our agricultural projects.
In 2016 we used laser grading to prepare the George Knepper farm for a new cattle building.
This creates a level base for the building and for the manure pit below. Having a level surface protects against heaving and cracking. Proper drainage is essential for animal waste management.
Last fall we used laser grading to prepare a site for a bunker build.
Bunkers require a perfectly level foundation. The prefabricated pieces must fit perfectly together so feed cannot spill out. They also must be square and sturdy to accommodate the heavy equipment driven on silage to pack it in.
We’re known for our huge, heavy equipment as a grading and excavating company, but with laser grading we can acheive fine, smooth results.
Contact us today to learn more about our laser grading services for your big build.
Crop farming takes a lot of work and resources. Why do farmers leave wide strips of grass through their field? Shouldn't they plant crops everywhere they can?
The farmer probably carefully planned those grass strips, called waterways. The grassed waterways are designed to do what their name says: Provide a planned path for way for water to flow. A permanent perennial crop, like grass, is put in place to hold soil and prevent erosion.
Consider the heavy spring and fall rainfalls we see and the increase in severe weather in recent years. These occur at a time when the soil is most vulnerable. After a rainstorm, water can sweep through fields, taking topsoil with it. The swiftly moving water will start to create a small channels. With more rain, more water collects in those channels. Those small channels can become gullies and completely reshape farmland.
Planning ahead for where water will flow with a grassed waterway has several benefits.
Reduce erosion- The wide grassy area spreads water across a wider area as it leaves the field. This reduces the force of the water and makes it flow more slowly from the field, keeping fertile soil in the fields.
Consider environmental impact- When topsoil runs off fields, so do the chemicals farmers use to keep crops healthy. Unfortunately those same chemicals that keep crops healthy can be devastate native flora and fauna. Grass acts as a natural filter and holds runoff back from streams.
Future minded- Spring storms are becoming more frequent and severe. It's important to adapt to our changing atmosphere to keep food production sustainable. Grass waterways can lesson the burden of rain storms on farmland.
How can Gravel Grading & Excavating help?
Supporting farmers is the most important work we do. We'll move earth to bring the benefits of waterways to your farmland.
Clearing and grubbing- We can clear plants that have overtaken waterways including tough roots and stumps.
Grading- We can lay back the banks of the waterway to a better grade to keep soil in place and guide water slowly from the field.
Planting- You can keep to planting the annual crops, leave the perennial ground cover to us. We can get your perennial ground cover started by laying grass mats.
As we turn towards the fall harvest, take time to consider how services from Gravel Grading and Excavating can ensure the most bountiful harvest possible.
There are so many things beyond a farmer’s control when it comes to high yield and successful seasons. While we certainly can’t predict the weather and we can’t make it rain, we love to help farmers make water work with them. Whether you want on to hold water or move it along, we can make a custom plan for you.
Many farms have streams, creeks, or rivers running through. Vegetation tends to grow along these paths. Water can cut steep banks through farmland.
These can create challenges for farmers. Eventually these waterways encroach on valuable farmland. The moving water increases erosion and destroys valuable topsoil. It can be difficult on machinery to cross waterways. Shaping or reshaping waterways can help ease these difficulties and use waterways to your advantage.
Read more about waterway shaping in this post about a farm near Monticello.
One way we can prevent erosion is with gabion baskets. Surely you have seen large rocks and concrete chunks, or rip rap, along waterways. Gabion baskets add the extra benefit of a wire structure to hold the rocks in place. They sometimes hold sand or gravel as well. This tool helps slow the erosion of topsoil.
Learn more about gabion baskets in this installation post from 2019.
The main purpose of a retention pond is to conserve water by holding it in place. There are added recreational and aesthetic benefits as well.
Learn the difference between retention and detention ponds in this post.
We do a lot of ag tile installation and for good reason: It is an excellent tool for removing standing water from fields. With water on farm fields, there can certainly be too much of a good thing. Crops do not like wet roots and this can lead to disease and rot. Installing tile beneath the surface of your field can help distribute water more efficiently for healthy crops year round.
Learn more about ag tile in this detailed post.
As always, contact us with your agricultural grading and excavating needs. We love to work with farmers.
Proper site preparation is an important but often overlooked first step of new construction. Be sure that your new structure’s foundation is set on a strong foundation!
There is a lot of work to be done before the building can begin. We have the experience to be sure your project has a smooth start and stays strong for years to come.
First, out with the old.
We clear any existing structures with demolition and tree grubbing. We offer disposal of those items as well.
Next it is time to smooth the earth. This is different for every structure. Something giant like a pole building will require an expanse of level ground.
Your new home build may require some more finesse. In addition to building a basement, we move earth to accommodate walk-out basements or retaining walls.
We plan ahead for the big build, making sure that all service and supply vehicles are able to access the project easily.
All of these checklist items are completed with the future in mind. We think ahead to control erosion and drainage. We are sure to compact the earth so it can hold your new structure.
Are you ready to get started on your big build? Call us at Gravel Grading and Excavating to prepare your site for sturdy structures.
At Gravel Grading and Excavating in Cascade, Iowa, we provide a broad spectrum of services. Have you considered us for summer recreation?
We have many ways to make your summer even more memorable such as
Let us share some recent work we’re proud to put our name on.
Our equipment and expertise can create a pond from scratch. What a great addition to your acreage whether you enjoy fishing, swimming, or just relaxing by the water.
Unfortunately, there is much more work to do than just dig a hole. Fortunately, we understand the scope of work and can make your dream a reality.
Ponds do require some maintenance which we are happy to provide. If you already have a pond on your property, or if you have a body of water running by, we can help make it more accessible and safe with streambank stabilization.
We worked on this lake to make it more accessible for water sport and recreation. The bank is much stronger and attractive. You can see an improvement in the water quality as well.
Many properties have hidden gems that have fallen into disrepair. Help your property work to its full potential by reconstructing existing pond projects.
Enjoy your time out on the water with pond projects that are beautiful, relaxing, and safe. Contact us to get your project on the books.
Gravel Grading and Excavating in Cascade, Iowa has always provided a broad range of excavating and grading services. This usually requires huge machines, but this spring we have added a tiny new addition to our fleet: A pipe inspection camera.
Not unlike a remote-controlled car, we are able to maneuver our camera through difficult to reach spaces. Established plumbing can be difficult to reach whether it is far underground, or covered by existing structures. We are now able to make a visual assessment of systems and excavate only where needed.
Even our best systems can find trouble over time. Aging plumbing systems can suffer from:
Check out our Facebook page for a pipe inspection video, and contact us when you are ready to start a video inspection of your own.
Have you considered having ag drainage tile installed in your fields?
We at Gravel Grading and Excavating are excited about spring too. We want to help you get into the fields faster, boost yields, and ease the stress of ridiculous Iowa weather. Our ag tile installation allows us to assist in all of these areas.
We’re happy to meet with you and design a strategy that best meets your needs. Tile can be arranged in patterns or just spots in your fields and pastures to give you more dependable, consistent yields by controlling water across your crops.
Ag tile prevents standing water in your fields which has several benefits. First, you will have easier and earlier field access, even in wet springs. When we get a wet fall, the tile will still be at work, spreading water more evenly and eliminating a muddy mess.
When plants are spoiled with a wet spring, their roots don’t have to work as hard to reach water. Then, in the summer, a shallow root system means they can suffer in dry, hot weather. Keeping crops out of standing water in the spring will give them deeper root systems.
Disease travels quickly among plants with “wet feet.” Ag tile can prevent plant disease, especially fungi that love a wet environment.
All of these benefits will boost yields as you farm in the future, and boost the value of your property when you are ready sell. Get in touch with our Gravel Grading & Excavating crew this spring as you consider agricultural drainage tile or our other farm services.
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