Piling Excavated Dirt In Garden Beds For Berm - Smothered by Wood Chips - February 2024

This past week saw the start of the excavation for my backyard wood-fired pizza oven.  After going back-and-forth with various versions of math...I settled on some dimensions.  The hole needs to be 90" wide and 98" deep.  That allows for a slab to be poured that is 78" wide and 86" deep.  12" each way to allow for framing, supports and what I'm calling 'wiggle room'.  

I opted for the 'on top of the drywell' location; which means that the excavation is going to be light in some parts (6 inches) and deeper in others (10-12 inches).  

That means that I'm going to be removing A LOT of material.  Soil.  Clay.  Probably some rocks.  

What do I do with it?

What I'd *LIKE* to do with it is to either build a berm in our front yard.  Or...use it to build a waterfall for a backyard pond.   But, I'm not ready for the pond.  And, I'm too chicken to do the berm in front.  

Will it look silly?  Will it look sloppy?  Will it look unfinished?  The front yard has higher stakes for projects - especially ones that don't start/finish quickly.  You're really playing-for-keeps up there when you live out here in the suburbs.  

So, what is a guy to do?  

The answer (for now) is to just build a stockpile.  But, where?  

I've longed for some elevation change in the backyard beds.  And, there's some room right around my newly created (last Fall) stumpery.  

So...I filled the wheelbarrow and hauled it back behind the Stumpery.   Below is a photo showing the initial pile.  This is made up of ALL of the turf.  And the topsoil just below the roots.  

Excavated soil and clay that is beginning of a backyard garden berm

I spent some time turning ALL of the clumps of grass over - so the turf is upside down.  In an attempt to keep this from becoming a Kentucky Bluegrass hill.  I also thought that I should cover it - to reduce light.  So, off I went to the municipal mulch pit and grabbed a load of arborist chips.  I threw them on top.  Below is what it looked like after one load of chips:

Covering Pile of Soil and Grass with Wood Chips to Kill The Grass

This could use a second load - both for coverage AND thickness.  From what I've read...the thicker-the-better when it comes to suppressing turf growth under wood chips.  

I'm thinking that once I either muster up the courage to do the berm in front or....build the pond.  Or....just want to elevate the Stumpery, this pile of earth will be ready.  And...hopefully be free of turf thanks to the wood chips. 


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