Temporary plywood protection for an Excavation Project

Offering reliable landscaping services to homeowners in British Columbia since 2013

Picture of Sam Maerz

Sam Maerz


Plywood protection for an excavation project

In this article we will discuss using plywood to build a temporary roadway for equipment, and foot traffic during an excavation project.

Plywood is most commonly used to protect lawns, but it can also be used to protect and distribute the weight of equipment on hard surfaces like pavers, or concrete driveways and patios.

What’s the best plywood for a temporary road?

The best plywood we have found is ¾” thick pressure treated plywood. The standard sheets are 4’ wide X 8’ long. This gives us just over 400’ of plywood to make a temporary road to protect your property. This works well for us in most cases as our Excavator is 39” wide, and our Track dumpers are 31” wide.

Both machines fit very well on 48” wide plywood.


When we need to use our Compact Track Loader (skid steer) we turn the plywood sideways and then the plywood is 96” wide for our 72” wide for our Deere 325G.

When should you consider using plywood to protect your lawn?

Usually, the shorter the project the more likely I am to recommend protecting surfaces that can easily be fixed.

If an excavation project is 1 day, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense spending half a day to repair a damaged lawn.

For very small projects it may be possible to travel directly on the lawn with little damage. If the grass is dry, and only a few passes are made on the grass there will be little visible damage.


Turning on wet grass dozens of times will create a rut that can easily end up being 2-8” deep.

If the excavation project is 4 weeks long, spending 1 day repairing a lawn seems much more reasonable. However, using plywood over saturated ground may be the only way to prevent the equipment from getting stuck.

Completing the project would be the first goal, and then the 2nd thought would be remediation as required.

Temporary plywood roads need to be set up before the lawn or ground is rutted up. Putting plywood over a rut is just going to break the wood as its unsupported underneath. Likewise, areas of your lawn that are not flat under the entire sheet of plywood will damage the corners and edges of the plywood.

The plywood is around $100 / sheet, so if more than a few are going to get damaged it may be cheaper to repair the lawn instead of paying to dispose of the broken plywood.

The benefit to using tracked excavation equipment is their ability to work in less-than-ideal ground conditions. They climb up muddy hills, and disperse their weight well over saturated soils.


This weight dispersion also helps on hard surfaces like concrete, and pavers. Running rubber tracks on a concrete driveway will not damage the driveway, unless its already heavily cracked.

New asphalt driveways should be protected from weight and dirt stains

Laying plywood down on concrete will help to disperse the weight, and keep all black rubber track marks off of it. In most cases though the equipment we use is small enough to not cause any damage on hard surfaces.

Unlike most commercial excavation companies, I take great pride in how we complete our projects.

Ultimately the goal is to make it looks like we weren’t even there other than the improvements we made.

This is possible if the client values this, and their budget supports it.

Our equipment has been carefully purchased to accomplish specific goals.

Our machines are lightweight with rubber tracks or turf tires to leave as light of a footprint as possible. Our bigger equipment has wide tracks to float as much as possible, and our dump truck and trailer has multiple axles to distribute the weight of the load if we are loading up on your driveway. This careful attention to detail is what separates a residential excavation company from a commercial excavation company.


Project cleanup

As the owner of Back 40 Landscaping and the one doing the work and cleanup, I make sure to plan every project to reduce cleanup and leave your property as clean as possible.

From equipment movement on-site, to power sweeping the road at the end of every day, rest assure you have a very passionate, and motivated company working with you.