As you are cleaning up around your property this spring you may notice some unsightly problems that creeped up during the winter months. From hillside wash-outs to weeds and shrubs that seem to have grown 10 feet in 3 months, property owners around Eastern Iowa are starting to assess their properties and make plans for outdoor improvements in the spring and summer months.
At this time in 2018, the same process was happening on a residential property high atop a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River town of Bellevue, Iowa. While the homeowners were pleased with their home, they found themselves unable to fully enjoy their outdoor spaces due to the steep hillsides and overgrown timber areas. Their beautiful view was partially obstructed by trees, and they knew this was the time to take action so they called in our friends at Conlon Construction to head up the project, and the guys at Conlon knew that Terry and the crew at Gravel Grading and Excavating were just the people to help out on this large-scale job.
When we were first called in, we immediately noticed the potential of the property. The idea was to regrade the driveway, sidewalks, and walking paths surrounding the home to fade the slope and improve water runoff, grub out small brush and cut back tree branches around the property, fade the hillsides and bluffs to make the terrain more easily traversable, and build out new patio areas for the homeowners to enjoy their newly-improved outdoor spaces.
On our first day on the job, we brought several pieces of small equipment such as our Bobcat Skidsteer and Mini Excavator. Working in such steep grades like these, we knew the smaller equipment would better handle these conditions. As we worked on improving the fall of the walkways and drives, we made sure to fade the terrain of the main yard back into the surround bluff, so there would be usable space for the family.
Our crew worked on this project in several stages, first cleaning out the shrubs and trees that dotted the yared and roughing in where the walkways and driveways would go. We then returned a few weeks later to assess the progress, shape up the property for retaining walls , and fill around the new patios and decking that were going in. At the end of the project, we then came in to finish grade the land and prepare it for seeding.
"This project was a lot of fun to work on," says Gravel crew member Brad Gravel. "We got to take this beautiful but overgrown home and yard, and make it a useable space for the family again."
Says Terry Gravel, owner of Gravel Grading and Excavating, "We are really thankful for the guys at Conlon for calling us in to help on this job. They are a great crew to partner with, and we think the finished product speaks for itself."
The end result of this process is not only a beautiful new yard for this Bellevue, Iowa, family, but also a space that is useable year-round.
Improving the grade around the edges of the property ensures the topsoil is secure and stays in place, providing better opportunity for lawn growth and maintenance. Grubbing out shrubs and trimming back trees improves the view of the mighty Mississippi and adding features like walkways to the home allow it to function better for the family.
Thank you to the team at Conlon Construction Company for allowing us to partner on this job, and thank you to the family in Bellevue for allowing us to move the earth for you!
Winter can be slow for seasonal businesses like ours. When the frost sets in the ground and our equipment has a tough time breaking the surface, you may think we pack up our machinery and head indoors to hibernate for those cold months.
In fact, we find winter to be one of our busier times of the year, as we not only perform routine maintenance on our tractors, skidsteers, dozers, and excavators, but some of our services can still take place during the winter season.
Want to know what keeps us busy in the wintertime?
During this “slow” season our first order of business is to assess the wear and tear on our equipment. We perform routine cleaning and waxing to protect the exterior surfaces of the machinery, but in some cases, like with our bulldozer, we tear off all the pans to blow out built-up dirt and sand to keep the internal parts running in top shape. This preventative maintenance allows us to remedy any problems we come across while we are in a slower work time, keeping us from breaking down during high-demand months in spring and summer.
Each year we also perform large-scale rehabilitation on our older models. If you’ve followed our social media pages or our "What's New?" blog for some time, you’ve seen last winter’s John Deere tractor cab renovation. Jobs like this are common in the winter months when we have time to tackle larger-scale jobs that will span several days.
Winter weather can be hard on below-ground piping due to the repeated freezing and thawing of the earth. These cycles can cause dirt and sediment to shift and cause cracks and breaks in water and sewer lines. Repairing these lines for residential and commercial property owners is one of our most important off-season jobs, so these small inconveniences don’t turn into major problems. When situations such as these arise, our crew can come in with our small equipment to trench small swaths through the property and replace small sections of the piping to get systems back to functioning condition as quickly as possible.
Stream Bank Stabilization
In the winter months when the ground is firm and frozen, many of our services grind to a halt, but we can still perform some of our soil erosion prevention services, such as stream bank stabilization. In these jobs, we work to push back the banks along water ways like rivers and streams to stabilize the surrounding property and reduce topsoil loss. Our crew cuts back the bank to an optimal water flow grade and reinforces the new grade with large rocks and blocks of concrete. We also seed the ground to support plant growth and root systems to hold the dirt in place.
Snow Removal and Salt Spreading
One of our busiest wintertime projects is clearing sidewalks, driveways, and roadways for our loyal customers. When the snow and ice flies, we move in to keep you and your loved ones safe by removing snow and spreading salt, lime, and ice melt.
Wintertime work keeps us busy from December through March, and though the winter months can be long, we're excited to welcome the long days of summertime very soon.
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