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Old 04-15-2014, 02:51 PM
Acorn
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Modesto CA
USDA Zone 9
Posts: 30
Sweet Alyssum is on a distinguished road
Underground utility alert service

I made my first call to USA North today thinking that the utilities would come out to mark their lines, and then I would begin the drawing of my planting plan. I wanted to know that we were in the clear prior to spending any time drawing the plan.
USA North asked for our project start date, and said the lines would be marked within two days of our start date. Obviously I could not provide the start date because I haven't yet drawn the plan.
So my question is, "How does this process work for landscapers"? Do you submit a ticket prior to drawing a plan giving a start date far in advance of when any digging will actually take place? Do you then submit another ticket just prior to the start date of the digging?
How does a designer know that an area is safe and legal for planting prior to spending hours drawing a planting plan? What is the legal, professional, "Best Practices" procedure?

Prior to this job, I had done mostly container plantings and adding plants to existing planter beds. Is it required that the USA service be contacted even when digging will be done in existing planter beds around the perimeter of a house?

Thank You
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:27 PM
NCSULandscaper's Avatar
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you tell them the start date is in 2 days
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Old 04-15-2014, 06:03 PM
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I can get a general feel for where major utilities are located based on the site evaluation for designing purposes.

If you need the utilities marked before you're comfortable designing, then asked to have them marked. It's a 'free' service, and that's exactly what it's for- to show you approximately where the utilities are. There's nothing wrong with telling them the start date is in two days... or as I say when I call in "after the lines are marked".

Also- if you are having it marked for designing purposes only, I would advise them (the locators) to use no paint, and remember to pick up the flags when you're done.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:29 PM
Acorn
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Modesto CA
USDA Zone 9
Posts: 30
Sweet Alyssum is on a distinguished road
Hello Anna,

Thank You for your reply.
I am confused about how the locators would "mark" the lines if they do not use paint. What is the reason for requesting that they don't use paint? If paint is used, about how long does it last? If the paint is rather permanent, does it potentially make a mess of the planting area?

also, do they stay within the flags? I would hate to end up with paint on the lawn, sidewalks, etc.

Melanie
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:31 PM
Acorn
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Modesto CA
USDA Zone 9
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Sweet Alyssum is on a distinguished road
Thank You, Matt.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:07 AM
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The locators will use colored flags and spray paint to mark the approximate location of the underground utilities. Unless instructed otherwise, they will spray paint the driveway, the sidewalk, decorative stone, retaining walls, mulch, lawn, groundcover, plants, etc. I've even seen them mark patio stones before. If you want the paint, then specify no paint on hard surfaces. You, as the requestor, can ask them to only use the colored flags to mark...and they'll use a lot of them. It's your responsibility to remove them when you're finished with the job.

Alternatively, you can mark off the area you want tagged with white paint or flags, and ask them to locate only within that area. I generally ask for a whole site/lot, so I can see where all utilities are coming in.

The paint is permanent on hard surfaces, and takes a few mowings to wear off on lawns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweet Alyssum View Post
Hello Anna,

Thank You for your reply.
I am confused about how the locators would "mark" the lines if they do not use paint. What is the reason for requesting that they don't use paint? If paint is used, about how long does it last? If the paint is rather permanent, does it potentially make a mess of the planting area?

also, do they stay within the flags? I would hate to end up with paint on the lawn, sidewalks, etc.

Melanie
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Old 04-16-2014, 01:22 PM
Acorn
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Modesto CA
USDA Zone 9
Posts: 30
Sweet Alyssum is on a distinguished road
Wow! Thank you very much for this detailed answer. I really needed this information.

Melanie
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Old 04-17-2014, 05:57 PM
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B&B Tree
 
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Most locators use marking chalk now, not paint. Holds up for 2 to 3 weeks
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Thompson's Landscaping
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NC Certified Plant Professional
NC Licensed Pesticide Applicator
NC Certified Nurseryman
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Old 04-17-2014, 08:46 PM
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That's good to know
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Old 04-18-2014, 07:55 AM
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Your project is to draw the plan. The start date is when they get out there and mark it. Make sure to include a note on the plan that all utilities are approximate and the contractor is responsible for calling the locating entity (here it is called DIGSAFE).
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