Dial 811 to check your state’s requirements and hear some general guidelines.
I know I need to contact the utilities when I’m excavating a site so that they can mark out anything underground, but is this necessary when I’m doing site grading that is less than 4 in. deep?
—Bruce Kelly, via email
M.G.: The answer depends on your location. In Rhode Island, where I live, we’re required to notify the utility marking service and have underground utilities located even if we’re scraping off old turf to reseed a lawn, simply because we’re using power equipment. In some states, utility marking is required even when digging by hand for a mailbox post or a tree. You can check your state’s requirements and some general guidelines by visiting call811.com or just dialing 811. Operators will connect you with your local utility marking service. Be sure to call several days ahead of when you plan to start work. It may take three business days from when you call until the service has marked out the utilities and you are permitted to do the work.