Working the Earth

scan0003OK, I have spent days detailing my childhood exposure and love of dirt-how does this pertain to you? Sculpting ground-this is a fancy definition for “grading”.  Grading dirt, simply stated, it is the process of moving dirt around, so water drains, there are flat places to be, and the sculpture of the ground which will become your landscape, looks interesting, and beautiful.   We can lower the dirt here; we can raise the dirt here. We can feather that area into this one.  How the house sits on the land is a big issue for new homes-thus many cities require grading plans. The project pictured tried to address a specific landscape issue.  A giant bumpy lawn on a considerable slope was not hospitable to either my client, or her guests.  The space needed some flat ground, and a sense of some intimacy.  The lawn was greatly over scaled for people.  Nor was the shape of the lawn beautiful.  With an earthmover, and rakes, the ground became sculptural and beautiful-but also useable.  I call this a grass amphitheater.earth1

When I design, I never assume the lay of the land is a given.  I can sculpt dirt.  I can sink it down.  Conversely, I can make a mountain, with a beautiful contour.  I can dig in; I can create a perch. I can swirl to the east, and stop abruptly in the west.  As a child, I moved dirt with a spoon-sometimes an incredibly lot of spoonfuls.  As an adult, I move dirt with a front end loader, my orange Dooney and Burke purse, with the rubber bottom, in tow.

scan0004 As I have said before, I have loved moving dirt my whole life.   How this helps you is as follows.  You have a life you are dealt, and a life you make.  Look at what you were dealt, and imagine it better; imagine it beautiful, then move some dirt around.



  1. Love the crushed granite as a drive or walk. What is the base? They don’t use tar do they? Thanks – – –

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Kristi, I install this as a series of layers of crushed stone that is compacted such that all the stone sizes interlock, and form a hard surface. There is in binder material. Deborah

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