We at Gravel Grading & Excavating take great pride knowing that the work we do helps our customers, especially those who work hard year-round in the agricultural industry. Our ag services include, but are not limited to, the following:
Grading & Excavating
Our team provides grading and excavating for new structures, buildings, pavements or other improvements: site prep & development, tree clearing & grubbing, grading (rough & finish), various pieces of equipment to complete the project, and backfill. No matter the job, the property has to be fully cleared, shaped, and smoothed out before the project can begin. That’s where our grading and excavating services come into play. Excavating focuses on removing obstacles and changing the shape of the land. If there are any stumps, boulders, or debris on the construction site, an excavator ensures every piece is removed. Once the land has been cleared of debris, it’s time for the grading to begin. Grading moves on the surface of the ground to push the topsoil into an even layer and reduce the amount of pits and bumps throughout the property. This creates a safe, clean slate for contractors to build upon.
Water, Sewer, Septic
Our underground water & sewer utilities services for new and existing infrastructures include: site prep, trenching, culverts, storm sewers, and septic systems. Gravel Grading & Excavating is licensed with the state of Iowa for septic system installation, and we follow proper protocol and follow-up with the DNR to make sure that our projects are both functional and safe for the surrounding environment.
In the past our crew worked with a local farmer to determine the proper location for a new septic tank and drain field on his property. We used our excavating equipment to dig out the pit for the tank, then we lined the tank’s trench with gravel and level-tested to ensure the proper fall to the pipes for optimum drainage. Our crew was then able to set the tank in place and begin assembling the drain field.
We can also work with property owners to develop more efficient ways to drain water through sewer systems if necessary (see: Medical Associates parking lot blog).
Waterways & Ponds
Our crew provides grading and construction of lakes, ponds, & levees. From site prep, water detention, and working with the existing creeks/streams to fill the ponds.
Land Clearing & Demolition
Gravel Grading & Excavating provides complete or selective demolition, clearing, grubbing and disposal to accommodate new improvements. Whether your clearing or demolition requirements are to clean up your property, remove unwanted brush, trees or structures, or installing a new structure, we can handle your clearing and demolition needs.
Each project starts with a plan for removal and disposal. Cleared debris is burned, chipped or hauled to disposal sites depending on municipal requirements and/or site conditions. Proper demolition permits are secured and disposal plans are developed for building and other structure demolition. Materials are recycled, where feasible, and building debris is removed, hauled and dumped in approved, permitted, disposal facilities.
Installation and maintenance of erosion control measures include: site prep, tree clearing and grubbing, soil conversation, retention/detention structures, terraces, and Gabion baskets. Although erosion rates on steep exposed slopes are higher than on flat or gently sloping areas, all areas of exposed soil are vulnerable to erosion. If erosion control is ignored on larger areas of nearly flat or gently sloping land, it will be possible for significant amounts of soil to be eroded. Clearing, grading, and vegetative restabilization in these areas can be timed so that the extent of exposed area and the duration of exposure is minimized. Another project to cross off your list in the fall and winter season, is cleaning and reshaping terraces in your farm fields.
After the wet spring and fall of 2019, you may have experienced erosion and washouts or left deep ruts from your heavy equipment. Our crew at Gravel can come in to reshape and strengthen these terraces so you can keep up with your harvest.
Farm Drainage & Tile
Underground agricultural drainage improvements: GPS mapping, culverts, fabric checks, silt fence, and rip rap. Ag tile refers to a drainage system to remove excess water beneath the soil’s surface. In agriculture, this helps farmers achieve optimal soil moisture level for crops.
Our crew goes in with our equipment to trench and install lines of plastic pipe to collect and move water to waterways and detention systems. By clearing and grubbing out freely-growing trees and shrubs along the fence lines and waterways, farmers can gain acres for additional planting which increases their production. W
hile tiling can seem like a significant undertaking, there are several benefits for Eastern Iowa farmers including improved crop quality and production, reduced soil evaporation, well-aerated root systems, enhanced productivity, and prevention of harmful salt buildup. Our crew comes in after the crops are taken out to place these drainage lines, which allows your fields to be ready to go when it is time to plant in 2020.
Dump truck hauling of all aggregate types: dirt, sand, gravel, concrete removal, and manure storage. Aggregate is a word describing rocks, gravels, sands, etc. This means aggregate is a collection of materials forming a whole.
Our crew is specialized in hauling aggregates to make loading and delivery at the project site easy, while maximizing the volume of material that is hauled with each load. Whether you need a gravel delivery or frac sand delivered to the field, we can help!
Our crew can provide pavements for all project types including: parking lots, streets, sidewalks, hog confinements, and cattle buildings. In order to prepare the areas for paving, we focus on diverting runoff before clearing and grading beings, and properly compacting the exposed surface area with crushed aggregate to reduce erosion potential.
At Gravel Grading & Excavating, we implement the use of laser grading. Laser grading is a process by which a level or specified slope is attained by using laser attachments and tools. These attachments can easily be installed on a variety of our equipment from skid loaders to bulldozers to help us electronically check the grade as we work, making us more efficient and accurate in our job.
Thank you farmers for your business! We are proud to serve you and assist with any of your agricultural services needs. Until the frost sets in, our crew will be there to excavate, doze, and move the earth for you. Call us today!
Thanksgiving...the annual day where we gather round a table full of food, friends, and family, to share our gratitudes for the year. So we thought this occasion would be a good opportunity to remind our followers that we at Gravel Grading & Excavating aren't just tough, good-looking guys. We are thankful for a lot of things.
1. We are thankful for our customers. In our line of work, we are lucky to help people build their dreams. Whether we get called in to help dig the foundation for a family's new home, install ag tile for a farmer making the best use of his field, or dig a new pond for some fishing and relaxation, we take great pride knowing that the work we do helps our customers.
2. We are thankful for big machines. Remember how much fun it was to play in the sandbox as a kid? Especially with those toys you could sit on and use the hand levers to scoop and move the sand? Yeah. We get to do that every day. At work. Now the sandbox toys are bigger, and they have engines and names like John Deere, Caterpillar, and Bobcat on the side. Plus, can you imagine trying to dig a foundation for a 400-head cattle building with a scoop shovel. Yeah. Neither can we.
3. We are thankful that we can make a living for our families while playing in the dirt. Much like #2, our favorite things to do as kids have become our jobs. There's nothing like the satisfaction of building something new or solving an engineering problem. It's a humbling experience to use our experience and skills to reroute waterways or reshape the landscape, and it never gets old.
4. We are thankful for our local communities. Oftentimes our crew gets called in to help on public works projects, and we enjoy helping our towns infrastructure function better. In the last year we've helped create new parking lots for our local medical center, prep sidewalks to keep our citizens safe, and work below the surface to keep water and sewer services functioning. The guys on our crew volunteer at local events and fundraisers and serve the community as members of organizations. Our homes and communities are important to us, and we're thankful to serve them.
5. We love to help people. In our line of work, we are lucky to help people build their dreams...oops. We already said that. But really, it's the best part of our job.
Thanks so much to our customers, family members, friends, and followers. We are grateful for your business since 2004, and we look forward to even more projects in 2020 and beyond.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends!
In Eastern Iowa, farmland is everywhere. This time of year, a Saturday drive will wind you past golden fields of soybeans, dried-out corn stalks ready for the combine, and even empty stretches where the farmer has already reaped his crop.
Recently, the cool fall days have given way to autumn rain and thunderstorms, leaving fields tacky and waterways full of runoff precipitation. For one of our farm clients this season, frequent rainstorms were leaving a section of his ground constantly muddy and eroding the ground.
Ready for a long-term solution to these troubles, our farm friend gave our crew at Gravel Grading and Excavating a call.
What are Gabion Baskets?
After looking at the property and assessing possible options, our crew determined that a gabion basket would be best for this farmer.
A gabion basket is a cage, cylinder, or box filled with rocks, concrete or sometimes sand and soil. Gabions are used in many situations including the stabilization of earth movement and erosion, river control, reservoirs, canal refurbishment, landscaping, and retaining walls.
For our purposes, we utilize this design along farm ground to help slow down and direct water runoff to appropriate basins and streams.
Installation: Phase 1
In the shop, we start by putting together wire baskets. These baskets will hold 6-9" rocks on the steep grade that kept getting eroded along our farmer's property. Once in place, the gabion baskets will hold the rock and act as a dam, slowing the water while also holding the soil in place and preventing dirt erosion.
Installation: Phase 2
After the baskets were put together, we could head out to the site and begin shaping the existing slope into a proper grade. Using our LinkBelt excavator, our crew took this ditch that formed after years of heavy-rain events and laid back the edges to create a foundation.
Installation: Phase 3
The next phase of our gabion basket installation at Gravel Grading and Excavating is laying out fabric on the exposed soil. This acts as another barrier and an erosion prevention measure.
On top of the fabric, we laid our wire baskets one section at a time. As we laid them out, our crew ring them together to reinforce the strength of the entire gabion system.
After the baskets were ringed together, we brought in the excavator to fill them with 6-9" rip-rap rock.
Once full, the individual baskets could be closed and ringed shut, and the next section of tarp and baskets could be installed.
As you see in the photos, this process happens one step at a time from the bottom of the slope up to field level.
Installation: Phase 4
Once the baskets were filled, excavator operator Brian Noonan installed rip rap around the basket, reinforcing the adjacent hillside for further erosion protection.
Once the rip-rap was installed, the gabion basket worked as it was designed: water from the field would slope into the basket and accumulate in the basin, as illustrated in the photos below.
The baskets and rip-rap would also ensure that the hillside would not erode any further, and the property owner's farm ground was protected.
How can we move the earth for you?
A big thanks goes out to our client and crew for making this project successful. We love seeing our plans come together and create a solution that will work for decades to come.
If we can move the earth for you, contact us at 563-542-6610 or email@example.com.
In 2018, our local medical clinic in Cascade contacted us with a problem. Their current parking lot couldn't handle the volume of clients and vehicles it was constructed for when they opened their doors in the late 90s, and their location atop a hill overlooking town lead to water runoff problems for neighboring properties. They knew it was time to make a change, and they knew our crew at Gravel Grading and Excavating was just the team to move the earth for them.
Our first step was to tear out the existing lot and regrade it at an appropriate slope so water would drain into storm sewers rather than neighboring properties.
Some of our favorite equipment to use in jobs like this is our laser grading equipment. Laser grading is a process by which a level or specified slope is attained by using laser attachments and tools. These attachments can easily be installed on a variety of our equipment from skid loaders to bulldozers to help us electronically check the grade as we work, making us more efficient and accurate in our job.
While we had the ground exposed, we also worked to curb the new lot and tie in existing sewer lines to the city's storm sewers. Once the initial ground work was completed, our friends at Kluesner Construction came in to pour the concrete and asphalt to give the lot a smooth, even finish.
At Medical Associates Cascade, the finished project is even better than expected. Patients no longer have to park in "no parking" zones for their appointments, and water drains to its designated location.
Sherry Kelchen, ARNP at the Cascade clinic said, "The crew at Gravel's was very quick and clean. They did their best to accommodate our staff and patients while they were working" and she was quite pleased with the outcome of the job.
Our thanks go out to the Medical Associates Clinic staff and their patients for choosing us to move the earth for them in this project and our friends at Kluesner for hopping on board to help us complete the project.
If we can help you on your next parking lot build or improvement, get in touch with our crew! Contact Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 563-542-6610 to discuss your job at get on the remaining 2019 schedule.
In the midwest, crop land is one of the most valuable commodities available.
Agriculture and food production is the leading economic industry in Iowa, and Iowa leads the country in producing pork, soybeans, corn, and eggs. But to make a living in this industry, having land is key.
In the past 50 years, Iowa land values have skyrocketed. To purchase one acre of crop land in 1970, a farmer would pay $197. In 2000, that same acre would cost $1050, and by 2017, the USDA reports that Iowa averages were over $8000 per acre. Therefore owning and maintaining land in our state has become even more important to farmers dependent on the soil for their livelihood.
In 2018, our crew at Gravel Grading & Excavating was contacted by an Eastern Iowa farmer in a desperate fight with Mother Nature to retain the crop ground he and his family owned. Over the past two decades they had lost acres and acres of farm ground due to erosion from the stream running along his property line. Each year, the stream carried away the soil, cutting away his cropland and thereby cutting away at his farm's income. Flood years were especially damaging, and aerial photos from 2000 to 2017 showed just how drastically his property line had shifted.
Our crew at Gravel's was ready to help this farmer stabilize his streambank and reinforce the soil for years to come. Our first step was to engineer a solution with the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. It was essential to have their cooperation and experience, so that we could design a new bank strong enough to last decades into the future to preserve the topsoil and retain water quality standards.
Once we had their approval, the earth moving could begin. Our first step was to dig back the dirt so we could get to a 2 to 1 slope. This degree of slope would allow us to slow down water runoff from the farm ground above the bank, and when combined with cement and stone rip rap, the new design would be strong enough to resist the strength of even rushing stream waters.
After cutting back the bank, we could then start backfilling to reach our desired 2-to-1 slope. We laid down 2 feet of Class B rip-rap weighing up to 650 lbs per piece, sure to hold this new stream bank in place. The rip-rap was then covered by a 9" layer of dirt so we could seed and lay straw mat to promote grass regrowth to further hold the soil in place and add to the natural aesthetic of the landscape.
We are happy to report that his 2019 crop is in and looking great this summer.
Thank you to our local farmer for calling our crew at Gravel Grading and Excavating to move the earth for him in this stream bank stabilization project. Our thanks also go out to the NRCS and the Army Corps of Engineers for their help in designing a plan that will help hold our farmer's ground in place for decades to come.
How can we move the earth for you?
Contact Terry at 563-542-6610 to discuss your next project and get on our schedule for 2019!
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!
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.
To many it may seem that a tractor is a tractor is a tractor, but to those of us who use these machines every day, we know that when you find a reliable tractor, it becomes an indispensable part of your crew.
Such was the case with our John Deere 4755 at the beginning of 2018. Though this trusty tractor had been a regular part of our crew for the past two decades, wear and tear were apparent, especially in the cab. Because of its heavy use in our fleet and our constant moving in and out of it, everything from the floor mats to the seats to the protective fabric coverings on the panels and around the steering wheel were falling apart. While the mechanicals of the machine were functioning well, the interior left a lot to be desired, so we took it on as one of our wintertime projects during the last off season.
To start with our cab renovation, we needed to find a supplier who could give us the replacement parts in the exact specs we needed and available at a reasonable time and price. Thankfully, we found the great folks at Fehr Cab Interiors to help us out. They walked us through the process, ensuring that all parts were accounted for in the first order.
Once the products were in-hand, the fun could begin: demolition.
Removing the worn interior pieces went relatively quick, but once those were discarded, cleaning up what was left behind was what took the longest. Our guys put in a lot of man hours and elbow grease scraping away at old glue and extracting years of dirt that had settled into the crevices along the floorboards and between the levers. Though it took awhile to detail, the project was a worthwhile task: "It was pretty satisfying to see the Deere go from tired-looking to just like new," says crew member Brad Gravel, "I spent a lot of time in that cab through the years, and I wanted to take care of it so we can keep it awhile longer. In the end, I was really proud of what we achieved."
Once the cab was cleaned and prepped, installation of Fehr's replacement parts could begin. Each side panel was replaced, and the quality and fit was perfect the first time out: "Fehr Cab Interiors provided us with great products, and we know this interior remodel will help us keep this tractor running for years as part of the Gravel Grading and Excavating fleet," says owner Terry Gravel.
Winter projects such as our John Deere 4755 renovation are essential for keeping our crew moving during the busy season from April to December. Performing routine, preventative maintenance helps us move the earth for our clients and customers in a timely manner and at the degree of excellence that we pride ourselves on.
If we can move the Earth for you in 2019, contact Terry at 563-542-6610.
Each year there’s an area of your field that just doesn’t produce. Rather than a full, mature crop, you get stunted, yellow plants due to too much moisture. Season after season you worry about driving heavy equipment through this section of your property, afraid of burying it in the mud that is sure to be there.
So what are your options? How can you ease this stress and prevent water retention in your field's topsoil?
The solution is simple: drainage tile (often referred to as ag tile).
Ag tile is a type of drainage system that removes excess water from soil. Soil with poor natural drainage can be a nuisance and prevent root development for crops. To combat these water issues, plastic tubing lines (or “tile lines”) many farmers install a network of below-ground pipes that allow the water to move out from between soil particles and into the line. Water enters the tile through small perforations and holes in the plastic tubing and then flows away through tile lines where it is deposited into surface water points—ditches, detention ponds, creeks, and streams—located at a lower elevation than the source.
When considering whether drainage tile is right for your situation, there are many factors to consider including future crops that will be planted in the area and their water needs, the current topography and natural drainage of your field, and the type of soil in the field. Sandier soil contents will require little drainage tile, as the soil cannot retain moisture, while soils with high clay content will need more tile lines placed closer together, as this soil holds water tighter.
Before installation, it is also advised that you check with your local agencies to ensure your plans are in line with county, state, and federal code. Some drainage activities require permits, while others are simply reviewed and either approved or denied.
While tiling can seem like a significant undertaking, there are several benefits for Eastern Iowa farmers including improved crop quality and production, reduced soil evaporation, well-aerated root systems, enhanced productivity, and prevention of harmful salt buildup.
If tiling is something you need in spring 2019, contact the crew at Gravel Grading and Excavating to get on our schedule. We are happy to move the earth for all our local farmers and help you achieve optimal yields for your crops!
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