Thursday, May 2, 2013

Retaining Wall -- 98%

I was anticipating that the retaining wall would be completed today. It wasn't. They came close...very close. Even staying until about 6:30 Mervin and Dan didn't quite finish the retaining walls and steps today. But they did come close. The effort, like yesterday, included laying out the timbers. backfilling and compacting the sand, cutting and placing the timbers, and spiking the timbers together.
Mervin used the vibratory compactor between the timbers and the block wall.
Dan muscles a full 8 foot long 6x6 timber into place.
Ten inch spikes were driven through each timber.
Each timber was fastened by either two or three depending on its length.
Toward the end of the day Mervin began to move much of the excavated material around to use as backfill and to shape the grade of the yard adjacent to the wall.  This allowed us to assess the planned height of the top timbers with where the yard will eventually be shaped.  Remember, the primary purpose of the structure is to keep rainwater from washing sand/soil into the slope to the basement door. Thus, the "top" step had to be far enough east of the cottage to allow all water to flow away...not toward...the building.

At the end of the long day the wall was at final level or within 1 or 2 boards of the top along it's entire length.

Looking toward the northwest from one of the lowest steps.
The short timber on top is to show the final height of the wall.
The terraces where plantings will be put can be seen.
This picture is looking down onto the area from the northwest corner.
The area between the timbers on the steps will eventually be filled with gravel.
The terraces will be planted with vegetation.
Anyone have ideas for shade loving ground cover (besides Pachysandra)?
This picture is from the basement door looking up the steps.
This picture is looking straight down the stairs.
This photo lets you see the slopes  away from the house.
I think I like the way the entrance worked out. It will protect the door. It can be landscaped to tie it in to the rest of the area. The terraces allow the inside of it to be green. And, somehow I can picture my three grandsons playing on the steps and even climbing the walls.

The crew has another commitment for tomorrow, so they won't be back to finish up until Saturday.  Though I just heard tomorrow may be rainy anyway. But, rumor has it that there may be other work done over the weekend, too. So, I may be posting tomorrow and/or Saturday.


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  5. I've been thinking about adding retaining walls to my yard, but I'm not sure if I should attempt them myself or higher a professional landscaper to put them in. I am not the most handy person, so I'm leaning towards getting someone else to do it. How easy would you say this project is for the average person?

    1. James...
      Retaining walls have a variety of purposes and thus have significantly different levels of complexity. My walls are quite high, needed to have only a few terraces and had to be built relatively quickly to allow other construction to proceed. I have a degree in Civil Engineering and could have built them myself -- well with some additional muscle help. But I chose the quicker professional approach.

      If your wall is short and will not be supporting a structure such as a building or driveway you may be able to do it yourself. There are plenty of web resources on how-to-do-it. But DON'T skimp on the foundation layer or the tie-backs. Since you are self-described as not the most handy, if the walls are to protect something valuable....Go Pro.