Front Yard Excavation: A Guide to Creating a Successful Front Entrance with Driveway

A snaking driveway going up to the entrance of your Laguna Beach, CA, client’s home can work wonders for the curb appeal and aesthetic design of the property. That said, form has to be complemented with function, which requires the expertise of an expert contractor to make your driveway project a true success. In particular, a lot of care, expertise, and attention to detail has to be invested in the excavation phase to ensure the longevity of the driveway and maximize the owner's utility from it.

A Safe, Successful Excavation

Front Yard Excavation: A Guide to Creating a Successful Front Entrance

Excavation is considered highly specialized work due to the expertise required to execute it safely and with minimal hassle. For a typical driveway, excavation can range from 12 to 18 inches depending on the quality of the soil. Especially for larger projects, bringing in heavy machinery to speed up the process is essential. This, in turn, requires a skilled crew capable of working with and around these machines safely.


In addition to the heavy machinery, excavation also requires being considerate of any utility lines running underground beneath the front yard. Damaging electric and gas lines can potentially create a hazardous situation for the workers and homeowners. California state law also requires contractors to have the necessary permits to ensure health and safety during work. Lastly, it is important to get the excavation phase done as soon as possible as the heavy machinery and open trenches can be a nuisance for the home’s occupants.

A Solid Base

Creating a solid base is the whole point of excavating. Oftentimes, this might require removing the existing driveway, which has to be done with care. Moreover, it has to be ensured that the excavated area is devoid of stray rocks and is perfectly flat. Otherwise, excavators could end up exerting an uneven pressure on the underlying base layer, leading to imperfections and bumps.

Once excavation is complete, a geogrid layer is typically applied to further strengthen the foundation layers. The geotextile is important for evenly spreading out the weight of the top layers and can even help to reduce the amount of material that needs to be excavated. Finally, there’s the granular aggregate layers, typically consisting of a combination of stone and gravel. This creates a solid base for the top layer, usually comprised of concrete paving stones. Together, all these layers help to ensure that the driveway holds up to the massive weight of vehicles moving over it.


Importance of Grading and Drainage

Adequate drainage is a key component of any successful driveway. Clay soil generally has poor drainage, so it requires a deeper trench, in contrast to sandy soil, which drains much better. Having a contractor well aware of local soil conditions is essential.

Lastly, during the excavation and construction phases, the gradient of the driveway has to be kept in mind. A graded driveway helps to direct water effectively through the property. Alongside eco-pavers, a shallow gradient can allow water to seep through the driveway and be assimilated into the groundwater, which is important for the environment and helps to alleviate pressure from the drainage systems.