Ask Your Question

Angie's List Answers is the trusted spot to ask home improvement and health questions and get answers from service companies, health providers and consumers. For ratings and reviews on companies in your area, search Angie's List.

Top 30 Days Experts
Rank Leader Points*
1 kstreett 240
2 Guest_9020487 110
3 Guest_9190926 105
4 GoldenKid 100
5 ahowell 95
6 KnowledgeBase 95
7 skbloom 80
8 Guest_98024861 70
9 Guest_9311297 70
10 Guest_9400529 70

*Updates every 4 hours

Browse Projects By Category

Question DetailsAsked on 2/15/2015

How many companies am I going to need to complete this backyard redo? Best order?

Backyard tasks to accomplish:
Dig up bamboo roots
replace fence
replace/remove retaining wall
reseed and basic landscaping
add concrete/brick porch around existing deck
Should I be searching for 1 company that can do all this or will I need multiple types of companies to complete this project?

My thought is the order of work would need to be something like this:
1. Dig up yard and remove bamboo (Landscaper or someone with a bobcat)
2. Remove fence and retaining wall (same company as above?)
3. Install new retaining wall
or get a fence that can be both fence and retaining wall
or landscape so retaining wall would be unnecessary?
4. Install fence (separate fence company or can landscapers do this?)
5. Add porch (this may not happen if the price tag is too high)
6. Reseed/landscape backyard - here are pictures and more details about what is happening in my backyard.

Do you have the same question? Follow this Question

1 Answer


Unless you are interested in playing general contractor, your best bet is to get a full-service Landscaping company. They will likely sub out the fencing and maybe the retaining wall if for significant structural support (i.e. if more than 3-4 feet high (each) or more than just stacked block terrace(s) for planters and minor slope erosion protection), but that gives you one point of contact, and what comes in what order is THEIR problem then.

Clearly the destructive activities come first - removing retaining wall (assuming the slope will stand in the short-term without it) and pulling out the bamboo roots and removing the fence, and any gross excavation or fill. Then likely the gross regrading, followed by fence and retaining wall construction. Then the patio (I assume you meant a ground-level concrete or brick/paver feature - "porch" implies elevated in the business) so workers are not walking over the new lawn and plants, then final subsurface dressing and topsoiling, followed by planting any individual plants, then final topsoil raking and seeding (or sod, if going that way). If wet conditions or a lot of individual plants, individual planting might come before topsoiling if not in the way and not likely to be damaged by the topsoiling/sodding. IF sodding, because of equipment being used and risk of damage to plants, individual plantings commonly come last after that, or may be done in two batches - excavation of holes and planting of perimeter plants (say planters) and of any trees needing heavy equipment to place them, then topsoil/sodding, then place remaining trees within the topsoil area. Obviously, the less work that is done after the sod is in the better it will look (avoiding matting/packing/rutting), and of course sedding/hydroseeding should be the absolute last item.

BTW - on fencing, if it will enclose the yard, be sure to discuss contractor your security needs (kids, pets, etc) during construction, because usually unless you have a wide double vehicle gate in it a section will be left out for equipment to come and go.

Also on fencing - many people combine retaining wall and fence - sometimes wanted/mecessaruy due to space contraints, but because walls (unless very expensive structurall walls) can tilt and move around a bit, and if block rather than concrete may need rebuilding every 15-30 years, it is generally more convenient to put the fence separate from the wall. Also generally simpler when/if fence needs rebuilding.

You can see there is a lot of potential for conflict and one contractor walking on another's toes, so can be a nightmare if you try to act as general contractor yourself and do not have experience doing that - and you have the opportunity for the job stretching out a lot longer if you wait for one phaseto be done before starting the next. However, if using one contractor, all scheduling and conflict resolution and resolution of one subcontrator damaging the work of another is HIS issue. That does put all your eggs in one basket, though, so you need to be sure you get a reputable one with good reviews and a reputation for finishing the job on budget and on time, not letting it drag on forever.

That way the disturbance items are done before there is any new construction to be damaged, and the construction activities are done before the topsoiling and seeding is done.

Two other comments:

1) be sure your plan (which if complex or involving significant regrading) might justify a Landscape Architect helping you with that) accounts for drainage to keep runoff away from the house, and to ensure gutter runoff is carried well away from the house and out of the yard. Also that the finished patio ends up above grade and draining away from the house, but without being to high against the foundation/doorway(s).

2) remember that in most areas retaining structures holding over 3 feet of fill/slope are required to be designed by a civil/structural engineer. In some areas you can terrace multiple walls at not more than a certain average slope (typically a 1V:1.5H or 1V:2H slope) up to a certain higher height (commonly 10 feet) as long as they are not supporting any structure foundations. Sometimes Landscape contractor can get the design done as necessary, some want you to get it - but if required, do not fail to get plans and have contractor submit for permit approval before starting work. Also, in many areas, removing an existing retaining wall that is of a height or location that it would require a permit to build it also requires a permit (or additional note and approval in building permit) to remove it.

3) put the keyword "bamboo" into the Ask box and read the prior comments there regarding bamboo - killing it is tough and tearing the roots out can promote further growth at each broken end (plus stress growth on root ends left in ground), so generally before removing the larger root mass (to provide plantable soil conditions) you want to thoroughly kill the plant off with herbicide first, which may take several injections and several weeks or even a couple of months to accomplish. In some cases, injection and sprayed ground treatment with herbicide and covering the roots up is better than digging them up. You do NOT want to tear up the ground just to find you have created a bamboo forest, and that factor can affect the landscaping plans too - many professional landscaping companies refuse to reuse excavated soil with bamboo roots in it - they want (justifiably) to excavate to bottom of root zone (a foot to three typically) and truck that away as waste, then bring in clean fill as needed to replace it. You may even want to reconsider the overall landscaping project - putting those project components which are out of the way and going to be done anyway (maybe one or more of fencing, retaining wall, houseside plantings [assuming bamboo is not along the house], and patio) the first year along with the bamboo killing, keeping all grading and lawn activities in the bamboo area till a second yearor even third year after you are sure you have killed it. That is how I would approach it, because I have seen some pricey remodel jobs ruined by a bamboo forest growing up in the middle of their brand new landscaping. Like with crabgrass, a little disturbance can result in a LOT of new growth from the roots.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

Related Questions

Terms Of Use
Privacy Policy