Tilling a Yard Relatively Flat- With Existing Trees

I'm trying to grade my yard so it's relatively flat. My main concern is to keep the grade so it doesn't grade towards my house/foundation quite so drastically.

Ive got 10 trees growing close to the back fence and I'm moving the dirt around them, and my plan is to put in a retaining wall about five feet from the trunks.

I've been working on it for a little over a week, doing by hand, tilling and shoveling. I've gotten pretty level, for the most part, still slopes to my house, but not quite so drastic. I still would like to dig down a maybe a bit more, but I've kind of hit a problem.

Tree roots. Feeder roots. I've not destroyed very many of them. I don't know how much I can till, cause I still need to till in compost and manure. And I will have to dig a bit further down to lay my brick retaining wall. The largest root I've found is maybe a half inch and quite a bit of feeder roots in just a few areas.

Should I stop? Is it safe to continue tilling and risk damage to my trees? I'm so close to finishing, and I'm not sure what to do. I know nothing about trees. I think they are elm? They are old and quite tall and very established.

What do I do? Continue carefully or stop?

submitted by /u/theskeletonkeys
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