The land tract is approximately 100 acres located near La Grange Texas. The topography is mostly flat with heavy woods of mature trees, thick brush and open pasture. The project goals were:
- Building roads
- Clearing trees and brush for roadways and home sites
- Renovating and expanding an existing stock tank
Building roads- There are two ways to build a road:
- Build it right- Once the road is complete using this method of construction, basic maintenance is all that is required to keep the road in good shape. Building your road this way will typically be the most expensive route, in the short run.
- The sugar coat- This method of construction will generally look good initially but will fail as time goes by, especially during the wet season or with more than a small amount of traffic. Year after year you will be constantly grading the road and hauling in more rock.
Interestingly enough method #1, initially the most expensive way, in the end is the most cost effective way to build the road not to mention a lot less aggravation. Adding insult to injury road #2, even though ultimately more work and expense, will never be as good as road #1.
For this project since the topography was flat and wide, we constructed an elevated and crowned compacted dirt base using dirt from the pond site and borrow ditches. State spec limestone road base was trucked-in, graded and then compacted. We built a secondary road going to a quaint guest house in the woods with crushed granite for a more aesthetic effect.
There are multiple ways to clear trees and brush. A landowner must focus on what end result is desired when determining which way is the best one. As with road building the best and most cost effective clearing technique may the method that is initially more expensive but in the end the better bang for the buck. Often whether the contractor has access to the right equipment for the job can determine the method used which may or may not be in the best interests of the landowner.
Brush mulching is popular these days as it is quick and cost effective. However, many landowners wish that instead of spending money on brush mulching they had cleared the brush with a bull dozer and removed the brush completely. For this project a combination of mulching and clearing was used. We used the brush and large dead trees that were generated in the clearing process to build windrows along the open perimeter of the property lines as a privacy berm. The windrow berm of brush and trees also created a wonderful wildlife habitat. Burning brush and debris (what most contractors prefer to do due to equipment limitations) generates air pollution as well as the danger of wildfire, especially in the dry conditions that often exist in Central and West Texas.
Soil testing is usually the first mistake made in the case of a project failure. Contactors tend to overlook the challenges associated with the soils instead going head long and full speed ahead with “pushing dirt” and hoping that it works. At SoilMovers LLC, we invest our time first in soil testing to make sure our projects are successful and the landowner does not experience issues in the future.
For this project we performed soil testing with a standard backhoe digging down to 10-12 feet. Field testing of the soils was performed with “suspicious” soils sent to a geo-technical lab for testing. At this site the choice soils for water-holding capability were found to be in layers with different degrees of permeable integrity. This type of soil challenge is found in roughly 50% of all sites which is why approximately 50% of all pond and lake projects fail. Contractors simply push dirt and hope for the best. For this project the choice soils were excavated, processed together for uniformity and then installed as a clay liner at proper depth.
This project started out as a flat ho-hum pastureland with lots of hidden features. Once the hidden features were uncovered, enhanced and integrated into the total sight picture the finished project was grand. The landowners’ comments were, “We never imagined that it would turn out this well and we could not be happier with the finished product”. I could not ask for a better compliment than that.