I have a 1/4 acre vacant lot in Central Florida in an undeveloped area. Two of my neighbors are about 4' higher in elevation according to Google Earth, though I stood there and don't see it or flooding. Not looking to pay for a survey or build anything permanent at this time - I can build up with fill for a proper house pad later. There is also apparently 2' dip in the center of my lot where I'd like to park my camper in the rainy summers. The soil is a very soft white sand that is like butter for digging but compacts very well and seems to be very porous.

I was wondering if a BobCat Skit steer alone would be able to grade the lot BY PUSHING my own sandy soil up from perimeter and front to a 50x50 elevated pad in the center back. I'd like to have a 5' difference between the plateau and ditch on the perimeter and the front and don't mind a ditch around the perimeter for security purposes either and would work it into my landscaping plans.

Possible and any idea what labor on a job like this might cost and take in hours if no materials need to be fetched?

Not to scale and just to get an idea.. rough and exaggerated visual below. Gray line is where my level currently is, Red is my property line, green is finished product.

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something like this in much softer sand: Youtube video enter image description here

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  • pushing sand up hill sounds tricky. a teaspoon can do it, but that doesn't make the ideal tool either. unless you own the bobcat consider renting an excavator.
    – Jasen
    Feb 29 '20 at 22:50
  • But the uphill is only a small section like 10 feet wide and roughly only 3 - 4 foot grade over those 10 feet. rest becomes a a flat plateau. I was thinking it could be done in gradual passes. Will add site plan elevations to question.
    – Hell.Bent
    Mar 1 '20 at 1:03
  • Just so you know, once you make that mound, it will collapse, even if you compact it. You need something rigid to maintain it, like a poured concrete retaining wall or a slab. The only reason slab-on-grade works in Florida sand is that the weight of the slab and structure keep the sand compacted.
    – longneck
    Mar 2 '20 at 18:17
  • it's not completely pure white sand, it's does naturally have a soil and rock component. I do see such natural slopes there already but there is vegetation on top. I do think i would try to have more gradual slope and plant grass.
    – Hell.Bent
    Mar 3 '20 at 16:37

A bobcat can be used for grading. In my horse turnouts I use a bobcat as they are small enough to move around where I can’t get my big tractor in. I pull backwards this fills the tire trenches where pushing you will leave tracks or ruts. Remember a bobcat is a skid steer so if using a tracked model (it will need tracks in the sand) pulling makes a better surface and you won’t get stuck or bog down as often.

  • understood. The sand is not pure white sand either, there is a natural soil and component. I do expect to do some work manually afterwards and would like to plant and mulch afterwards.
    – Hell.Bent
    Mar 3 '20 at 16:39

Pushing soil requires a lot of traction. It is neither accident nor coincidence that the dozer blade demo in the video uses a compact track loader rather than a skid steer (wheeled) loader.

It seems like you have a fair amount of material to move. Rather than dozing/pushing, it'll probably be more efficient to use a regular bucket to dig out scoops of soil where you want to form the ditch and dump these scoops in the middle where you want to form the plateau.

I've spent quite a few hours in the seat of a skid steer loader (I own one) but little time working in sand -- just enough to know that it's easy to sink the wheels when operating on sand. Maybe your local rental yard can advise as to whether a wheel-based skid steer or a compact track loader would be the better choice.

If we assume the use of a machine that gets good traction, an operator who knows (or quickly figures out) how to go after it, and that you're not too picky about the precision of the finish, the job looks like most of a day's work.

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