The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Kubota X900 rear winch receiver

Kubota winch rear installation.

We tested the driveway again today and proved it's still too wet here.

The good news is our first time using the winch on the rear hitch receiver worked without any problems.

Our new plan is to seek someone local with some equipment and experience in driveway building that does small to medium sized jobs like this.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've lurked here awhile, first post! I have a little experience in construction (currently general contracting a house). What I'd do is find a local custom home builder (custom doesn't necessarily mean expensive, just not cookie cutter) and call them to ask who they use for their excavator. Most of these guys are small and are happy to recommend somebody - helps keep their subs in business. And most excavators will happily come to your place and give you a quote for free. If you can, get several quotes - you may be amazed at the spread in prices.

Try to find an excavator with a big machine - he'll charge more per hour but be done in less time. Somebody with a front end loader (not a backhoe or bobcat) is perfect. Something like this: . You'll be amazed at just how much dirt these guys can move in a day. Bobcats are great for fine finishing, but the bucket is too small for any significant dirt moving. Backhoes are good generalists and can dig deep, but slow and awkward for moving dirt from place to place.

Also, if he needs fill (and he probably will), try to find a convenient spot on your property he can dig it from. Dirt may be cheap but trucks are expensive.

Comment by Joshua Thu Jun 29 01:40:58 2017

Thank you Joshua,

That seems like good advice and a helpful place for me to start looking in this area. We were just talking about it today.

Comment by mark Thu Jun 29 14:54:52 2017

When doing some reading about roadbuilding in a marshy environment, the advice that seems pops up most is to don't do it unless you absolutely have to. I would interpret that as "it will cost more than you think".

There seem to be a couple of methods to build on marshy ground.

One method is to drive wooden or concrete posts through the marsh onto the first "solid" layer. The construction is then built on top of the poles. Basically all the houses in the city of Amsterdam are built like this. I get the impression that this method is not really suited to building roads.

A similar approach for roads is to excavate the marsh until you hit a "solid" or at least supportive layer and fill it up with sand and other solid fillers. You would also need to add some culverts to let water through if necessary. Otherwise you could be unintentionally building a dam.

Another approach is to make a "floating" road. You put down several alternating layers of geotextile or matting and preferably light fillers like cinder, fly ash and even sawdust. There is no need to excavate in this case, just heap up the material; it will compress down into the marsh until an equilibrium is reached. From what I'm reading you could need anywhere from 12 to 30 inches of filler material to make sure that you road stays dry. And it will take time for everything to settle. It could be that a couple of inches seem enough at first but that you have to keep adding material over the years. On the plus side, this could help spread out the cost over the years.

What you should probably do is get an idea how big/deep your marshy areas are. There will be a tipping point between exavation plus replacement versus floating. It will also depend on if you have a relatively local source for filler material.

Comment by Roland_Smith Thu Jun 29 18:37:54 2017

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