|Project by JJohnston||posted 10-03-2009 08:27 PM||3246 views||1 time favorited||13 comments|
The lots along my street are cut into the side of a shallow hill, so the backyards slope up toward the back wall. I decided to reclaim some level area by cutting into the slope and putting in a retaining wall along the back. The raised area would make a perfect planter.
I wound up using around 200 of the main course blocks. At 80 lb each, that means 8 tons of block. There are about 70 cap blocks. This project was a monumental amount of work. My parents and brother put in a lot of effort helping me. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, and I don’t think I would be able to do it again now. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
1. Here you can see the foundation trench and the first 2 courses. The foundation consists of 6 or 8” of “base course”. It’s great stuff. Once it’s compacted properly, it’s as dense and hard as concrete. On top of that is a trim layer of sand, trowelled smooth and level. I made sure to do this part right, so much so that my dad and brother started calling me The Pharoah.
2. Getting close to getting the blockwork done here. That’s me, doing the weightlifter’s squat, setting one of those 80 lb behemoths down, while my brother “helps”.
3. Main courses completed. Backfill completed. After the top is swept and washed, the cap blocks can go on. If you look closely at the patio, you’ll see the Bobcat tracks. Arrgh!!
4. Cap blocks are on, the spoils left over from cutting into the slope have been disposed of, and the fine grading is done. This is the first good look at how the finished product will look. You can also see the original slope over toward the corner. I estimate I removed about 20 cubic yards of dirt.
5. Here we’re digging the fake streambed (“arroyo” in this part of the country) and lining it with cobbles. I’ve left a section undug so I can get around with the tractor loaded with rocks. That section will be dug and rocked last.
6. Here’s a recent shot showing what the finished product looks like a couple of years later. Landscapes around here are “xeric” – low water consumption. Lots of rocks and desert plants.
-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln