Sunday, October 14, 2012
Dreamin' Big in the Backyard...A Manly Post
Ever since we moved in to our house in June I've been tallying up all kinds of different projects that I needed/wanted to do. Among other things, I've trimmed our trees, installed a automatic gate opener, trimmed our trees, planted grass seed in the front yard, redone the sprinkler system (we had this done by a pro), and trimmed our trees AGAIN!
The project that I'm most excited about is a retaining wall/raised flower bed that I am building along our back fence. The idea came as a result of several things: we wanted to save our flowers from being trampled by the boys, and we wanted to use the space along the back fence where no grass would grow.
These first two pictures are from before the digging began, and they show the entire section of the fence line where the retaining wall will be. You can see the scars from the recently dug trenches for the sprinklers. The grass has since begun to recover and fill in the gaps again, and it looks much better.
The back fence line. The original plan was to have the wall come about four feet off the fence and make an "L" at the corner. Then down the road I'd like to install a little patio in that far corner beyond the light post. The gradual slope is nice because it provides a natural space in which to dig and place our wall, without being too steep.
We ordered our supplies whole sale and had them delivered right to our house! Luckily they were able to get down the our single lane driveway and into the back yard, which meant they dumped it as close to the job site as possible. This also means that I am reminded of how much I have left to do every time come or go!
Before I dug anything I used stakes, string and a level to map out the design. Then I outlined the trench with orange spray paint. Austin was very careful not to step on the "painting", or tear down my string. I was very impressed with how seriously he took the whole thing.
The boys love to help, and we get to spend some quality time together working. Austin uses his little spade to "work really hard" and help me fill up the wheel barrow. On my first day of digging I started with a six foot wide section and laid the blocks (without the construction adhesive) to give me a temporary look at things. I learned just how deep and how far off the wall I'd need to dig in order to get the height I wanted.
Blake loves DIRT! We had some nice cool weather for two weeks straight, and we all enjoyed working outside. Most of our evenings were scheduled up though, so I did the majority of the initial digging in the early morning from 5:30 to 6:00 am! I had to wear a head lamp to see what I was doing. The neighbors think I'm weird, but it's good exercise.
Things were going slow and steady until I started running into buried roots...they may not look that bad, but it's just a nasty web of interconnected, rope-like roots that each have to be chopped off. It truly is a weed of a tree.
The corner of the property is particularly bad because of a large tree just across the fence line in my neighbors yard. Thankfully he considers it to be a trash tree, so he doesn't mind that I hack at it with my pick axe and shovel.
I wasn't making very good progress by hand, so I rented a small gas powered tiller for four hours. Using it made the digging much quicker, despite having to fight through the pile of roots seen above. Yes, that largest one is actually a root that I pulled out with my pick!
This is the growing pile of dirt behind my shed from the trench that I am digging to lay the retaining wall. It's 4 feet tall, 15 feet long and 6 feet wide.
It sure doesn't look like much, but the foundation has been laid for the wall. Next step: level the lower trench and lay the first row of blocks. Stay tuned for updates!