I wanted to do some significant regrading of my lot. I calculated I would need about 700 cubic yards of additional earth to achieve my desired landscape. But going out and contracting for a company to haul and spread that amount of dirt would have run into the five figures.

Not only did I not have the budget for that, but I know that there are a lot of construction projects where contractors are paying sites to take dirt that they excavate. If you put out the word and wait long enough eventually you can make a mutually beneficial connection. One contractor pointed me to the information-age solution: DirtFill.com, an exchange where people trying to get rid of dirt can find others looking to take it.

I put a listing up there two months ago. Last week I got a call from a contractor who had done major excavations on a project just a few miles from me. I drove out to look at the dirt and found mounds of beautiful, clean fill. Their foreman followed me back to my site to look at the feasibility of disposing it. Two days later they drove a John Deere 410E into my back yard to spread and level the dirt as two tri-axles ran back and forth all day for the next three days.

My only expense was tipping the tractor operator to rip up some stumps and grade it just the way I wanted it. It was a win for them too because the next closest places for dumping were not only at least twice as far but were also charging to take fill.

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