Happy Halloween Gravel Grading and Excavating fans! Tis the season for stories that send a shiver up
your spine and leave you feeling a little unsettled. Halloween is all about a little bit of a scare, right?
We have all the spooky stories about septic backups and (dare I say it) top soil erosion!
So settle in with some candy, light a fire, and get ready for some scary stories.
Spooky Story #1:
First up is a story that will have you checking your septic system every day and even through the night.
Typically when septic professionals open the lid to a septic tank, there’s a 10-inch air gap, but during one
inspection, the home inspector found herself looking into a tank filled to the brim with wastewater.
When the inspector walked out to the drain field, where wastewater from a septic tank is slowly
released underground, she found a massive green and black puddle.
“The scary thing was, there were boats and toys in the water,” the inspector says, indicating that the
family’s kids had been playing in that spot.
The homeowner mentioned that the puddle had been there since the last rain – two months prior to the
“I had to explain that was no puddle,” the inspector says. “It was wastewater surfacing and she didn’t
want to let her kids play in it. She was horrified.”
Now that’s a scary situation!
To avoid this happening to you, be sure to pump out your septic system regularly. Timeframes depend on number of people in your household and volume of water used. If your septic system is in need of repair or replacement, contact our crew before it’s too late.
Spooky Story #2:
This is a short and not-so-sweet story that some farmers know all too well.
Soil erosion can lead to lost topsoil that you can never get back.
This equates to potential loss of yield for farmers and investment for property owners. Lost top soil can also lead to inefficiencies with your equipment, inconsistency of input placement, and lost dollars. The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. It has led to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging these waterways and causing declines in fish and other species too. Degraded lands are also often less able to hold onto water, which can increase flooding too.
Contact our crew at Gravel Grading & Excavating to install ag tile, waterways, and detention
ponds to preserve your precious dirt.
Don’t let your Fall and Winter months get scary, contact our crew today so you don't become the next scary story we share with our followers!
Over the past few years, we’ve shared a lot about our passions and projects, but this month we wanted to bring it back to the basics to share what our business is all about. Our crew at Gravel Grading and Excavating has been moving earth for two decades. We provide a broad spectrum of residential, commercial, and agricultural grading and excavating services to Cascade and the surrounding areas. From site preparation, to sewer and septic installation, and tile and drainage of farm fields, our crew is prepared to do just about anything for you!
Most of the year, our crew is busy with any number of projects. Our residential and commercial jobs center around foundation work, septic, leveling ground, and grading.
In the agricultural sector, our crew works closely with farmers helping with erosion control measures and ag tiling. Some of our favorite work has been with pond building and dredging in rural areas.
During the off season, you can find us in the shop completing routine maintenance, fixing equipment, or doing snow removal for local businesses and people.
Our crew is passionate about the work we do for all our clients, but particularly those with local farmers and ag workers. The agricultural industry is essential to our community and they work hard to provide for others each and every day; our crew loves completing projects that make farmers’ jobs easier and more efficient.
Give our crew a call today to see how we can move earth for you!
Our crew at Gravel Grading & Excavating is dedicated to moving the earth for our clients and customers. We jump at the opportunity to assist with any project that we can, especially those that consist of waterway or sediment basin work because the efforts can benefit future generations of Iowans. Maintaining a sediment basin or waterway is essential to preserving Iowa’s most precious resource, black dirt topsoil.
To help aid water drainage for a local community in the summer of 2020, our Gravel Grading & Excavating crew was called in to help clean out an existing drainage basin that had reduced efficiency after years of silt/sediment collection. Years of rain events had moved so much dirt into this drainage area, that all you could see of the outlet's 10-foot structure was the cap (pictured below). This told us that it was more than time for the silt basin to be cleaned out.
Sediment basins are ponds with open water that capture coarse sediment and litter carried by stormwater or runoff. They intercept the runoff before it reaches the waterway, and slow it down to allow the coarse sediment to fall to the bottom.This way the cleaner water stays at the top of the pond and flows through the outlet source.
A well-designed sediment basin should be just large enough to allow time to capture most of the target coarse sediment. It should only capture a small amount of finer particles and contaminants, the majority of which should be treated by a constructed wetland or raingarden downstream.
In order to maintain a sediment basin, it needs to be cleaned out regularly, usually every two to five years.
For our project in question, almost 10 feet of outlet pipe had been covered up with sediment over the years. Using our dozer, excavator, and wagons, our crew was able to clean out all the dirt that had settled in, and used it to build up the sides of the existing berm structure. See the photos below to watch our crew unearth and relocate years of sediment.
Our guys then relocated the dirt and shaped the berm and drainage areas to facilitate future runoff and soil preservation efforts.
Contact our team at Gravel Grading & Excavating today to see how we can assist you!
Today we bring you the process of rural pond making. We're going to show you how our crew can move the earth for you and your family to create a retreat you can enjoy for years to come!
In 2019, we were called in for a pond expansion job south of Cascade. Our client had the beginnings of a recreational pond on his property, but what he had and what he envisioned for the property were two different things.... and that's when he called in our crew at Gravel Grading & Excavating! The project was soon looked over and discussed, as the property had an overgrowing of trees and shrubs and a shallow pond not suitable for the recreational fishing he was looking for.
In the first phase of this project, our crew came in to help grub out the area surrounding the pond and grade up the banks to allow for a deeper water feature.
After we had the new banks laid back, we needed to clear out the sediment and plants that had accumulated at the bottom of initial basin. Our excavation team got right into the thick of it, clearing out the debris and allowing the spring/water table to fill the new pond basin.
After much anticipation, the pond we helped our client with was full and stocked last fall.
It is now more accessible since our crew grubbed it out and laid back the banks. And with the additional depth we were able to give it, this pond can stock additional, healthier fish to provide hours of relaxation and recreational fishing for our owner.
We so appreciate our client asking us in to help with this fun project!
If we can give you your own retreat like this one, call us at 563-542-6610 or email email@example.com !
In the summer months when the weather is warm and the dirt is compact, our Gravel Grading & Exacavating crew members are able to work on projects that are unaccessible during the rainy spring season. Jobs such as stream bank stabilization and waterway shaping are reserved for this time of year, so we don’t tear up the earth or get ourselves stuck in the mud.
In projects such as these, one of the materials we rely on to “support” our efforts is rip-rap.
What is rip rap?
Rip-rap is large boulders and concrete pieces that are placed along waterways, bridge foundations, and steep embankments to protect the underlying dirt from erosion and scour.
We frequently use this option because it is a natural-looking treatment that not only protects the earth, but it can be used for many different purposes by using various sizes and volumes of this material:
4-5” Rip Rap
The 4-5” size is the smallest type of stone available. This size is ideal for preventing soil erosion on small slopes and along drainage ditches that aren’t constantly exposed to moving water. This size is also utilized in weed prevention measures along steep embankments and sometimes as base material in driveways and parking lots.
6-9” Rip Rap
This size rip rap is the most commonly used size. These stones are perfect for erosion control and bank stabilization measures for streams, rivers, ponds, and other smaller bodies of water.
These pieces are ideal for shorelines with extremely heavy currents and breaking waters or in large holes and ditches. The large mass of these boulders can reinforce even the steepest grades and erosion-prone areas.
Where do we use it?
Rip rap is used where a structure or shoreline is continuously exposed to rushing water, such as along creeks that commonly experience flash flooding, along pond shorelines, and in field drainage areas that have steep grades. Over time the dirt in these structures is worn down and lost, which can dramatically change the lay of the land surrounding it. Our crew uses these stones to support the best measures and protect the property owners’ land.
Check out some of our other “What’s New” blog entries to check out the projects we’ve done that utilize rip rap, such as gabion baskets and stream bank stabilizations.
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!
For many local farmers, having a creek run through their property is an advantage. Creeks can provide access to water for pasture livestock, a boundary between fields, or recreation for the family. Sometimes, creeks can be a source of headache for farmers, as was the case with this project at the Takes farm located east of Cascade, Iowa, on Bellevue-Cascade Road.
Each day when it was time for chores, local farmer John Takes would fill his feed wagon and cross the county highway into his cattle pasture. Once inside the fence, John would have to maneuver his tractor and wagon down and then back up the steep sides of the small creek to access his herd. On its best days this caused his equipment to bottom-out, creating a dirty mess that was hard on his machinery, and on the worst days in times of high water, the pasture was nearly inaccessible.
To remedy this problem, John called Terry and Gravel Grading and Excavating to help him devise a solution. Terry recommended installing a new creek crossing, complete with prefabricated slatted concrete slabs to aid in traction for equipment and three ag-tile culverts that would allow the creek to maintain its flow below the new structure without compromising its stability.
To begin, the crew of Gravel Grading & Excavating waited for a dry spell, so the creek would be low enough to work around. Then drawing on their extensive experience and laser grading equipment, they determined the optimal location of the path across the creek, as well as the appropriate height for the new crossing so as high water events would not breach the new lane.
The guys then moved in with graders, skid steers, and excavators, to begin the process of moving dirt to prepare for the installation of the culverts. A bed was prepared for the pipes to lay upon, and once again the laser levels were used to determine the proper degree of slope for maximum water drainage. Once this was prepared, the plastic piping could be installed and backfilled with dirt and rock for stabilization. An extra measure was taken for erosion control by pouring concrete walls on each side of the new road to prevent washouts in heavy rain events.
The crew then went about pouring a final layer of concrete to top off the new crossing, placing concrete slats on both sides, and regrading and dumping new gravel along the newly-established path for the finishing touches.
Shortly after the conclusion of the creek crossing, a storm passed through, testing the effectiveness of Gravel Grading & Excavating's work. As expected the crew was able to move the earth for our customer John, and the culverts worked just as planned, allowing the creek to maintain its flow through the pasture while allowing John to access and feed his cattle.
Thank you to the Takes family for choosing Gravel Grading and Excavating for this project, and be sure to give us a call for any of your dirt work needs.
Flooding. It happens almost yearly anymore in Eastern Iowa. As a homeowner it's important to have flood insurance to protect your residence and valuables if you lie in a flood plain or are prone to water seepage in your basement.
As a landowner, you sometimes need to take other preventative measures, as you can see below with our friends the Ostwinkles who live on North Cascade Road between Cascade, Iowa, and Epworth, Iowa.
For this family, the stream in the pasture behind their home provided exquisite views and relief for their cattle in the hot summer sun. But after several years of flooding (and one extreme flood event in 2013), the banks along the stream bed had been eaten away and were now unstable and dangerous.
To help address this problem, the Ostwinkles turned to Gravel Grading & Excavating. We started by sending company owner Terry Gravel out to the property to assess the situation. Terry took some initial photos and discussed with the owners what they were hoping to achieve on their land. From those steps, Terry recommended completely restructuring the creek banks and stabilizing them with large chunks of crushed rock and concrete, otherwise known as rip-rap.
Terry and crew got started by grading back the banks of the creek with one of our John Deere tractors and dirt wagon. This wagon has the hydraulic ability to both scrape off and then relocate dirt and gravel. Once that step was completed, excavator operator Brian Noonan dug out additional sediment to improve water flow and creek drainage, particularly around culverts. Our dozer was then called upon to finish out the grade, enabling our crew along with our friends from Eastern Iowa Transport to bring in truckload after truckload of rip-rap. This would ensure that all our work would be protected for years to come, and high water flow would not undermine the stability of the new creek banks.
Our last step was to cover the rip rap with a layer of dirt to fill in the crevices and lay grass mat that would promote the growth of grass and vegetation to slow water flow, thus preventing erosion and loss of topsoil in future rain events
Check out our photos and video below for a step-by-step walkthrough of the Ostwinkle property project from start to finish, and give Gravel Grading & Excavating a call for your next dirt-work project. We'll move the earth for you!
Farmers in this area can tell you, no matter the season, there's always work to be done. Though summer may be overlooked as a time to just sit back and watch the corn grow, this time of year our friends in the ag sector keep busy with spraying and side-dressing crops, cutting and baling hay, tending livestock, and prepping machinery for the impending harvest season. Summer is also a time where farmers survey their fields for ways to improve efficiency and production and to implement erosion control measures.
Reconstructing waterways is one way to satisfy these needs. By clearing (cutting down and removing) and grubbing out (removing roots and stumps left behind) freely-growing trees and shrubs along fence lines and waterways, farmers can gain acres for additional planting which increases their production. Or, as in the case of our clients pictured below, they needed additional erosion-control measures put in place to reduce field runoff after the heavy summer rains.
In these photos from a crop farm near Monticello, IA, you can see how trees and shrubs had grown up along the creek near this field. Not only did these growths get in the way of farm machinery, but the steep banks on the sides of the creek meant the landowner was losing precious dirt and topsoil when rainwater drained off the field.
To help aid water drainage, Gravel Grading & Excavating came in to alleviate the problem. Using dozers and excavators, we started with clearing and grubbing the existing creek banks. All trees and shrubs were removed and hauled away using our dump wagon. We then laid back the banks at a better grade to allow for maximum water retention and less loss of soil for our farmer. Our last step of this project was to lay down grass mat and seed to encourage quick regrowth of natural grasses and ground cover.
Are plant growth or soil erosion something you struggle with on your farm? Let the experts at Gravel Grading & Excavating help reconstruct your waterways and move the earth for you!
With the storms that are bearing down on our area today, this subject seems particularly relevant.
Water retention and detention ponds: What's the difference and when should you use each?
Retention ponds: these are what you picture in your mind when you think of a traditional pond. Water pools here and stays here permanently, allowing soil and sediments to settle to the bottom. Water conservation and management is a key benefit of this structure, but these are also aesthetically pleasing with recreational benefits such as fishing, kayaking, etc. for developers and land owners, and offer access to water for farmers and their livestock.
Detention ponds: these ponds are useful in heavy rain and runoff events. Water pools here for a short period of time, allowing some settling of particles, and is then slowly released. These allow for more controlled drainage in order to prevent erosion whether in an urban, paved setting or in a rural location.
Whether it's retention or detention you're looking for, Gravel Grading & Excavating has your solution. With over a decade of experience in water conservation and erosion control, we can successfully plan and construct the pond that is just right for you.
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