Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Great Wall of Retaining

I sometimes tend to think big. I decided this spring to build a retaining wall to solve the problem of a steep slope filled with thick surface roots from a 65 foot maple tree. It would be impossible to grow anything on the slope except ivy and weeds so I decided to have the wall and terracing built. 


BEFORE - November 2017 


AFTER - September 2018
The wall was built out of rebar and concrete blocks above deep, wide concrete footings. The blocks were covered in faux river rocks.


The ivy covered building is my tiny garage turned giant garden shed. It's held together by the ivy, which I'm never removing.


Once the mortar has been cured and sealed, I can fill the wall with soil. I'll let the terraces fill with leaves and the soil settle all winter before planting.

It was just that simple. "I think a retaining wall is the solution" and I considered it done. I planned, budgeted, borrowed, and hired my favorite contractor.


BEFORE - November 2017


AFTER - September 2018


AFTER - September 2018

The wall is huge. It's twice as big, twice as expensive and took twice as long to complete as I had planned but I love it. It keeps roots out but not people. It took two months to complete and in the process we received 12 inches of rain and I ran out of money. Raccoons made nightly inspections on the wall's progress but never offered to help. Jerks.  But life goes on and so did construction. Once the mortar has been sealed, I can fill it with the 300 bags of compost in my driveway and plan my next garden.


The wall consists of three terraces.


The rain allowed the contractor to solve all the hidden drainage issues. 


An oval area has been saved for a lawn of violets and creeping charlie. I'll over seed with microclover seeds but the violet roots are asleep under all that soil, just waiting to suffocate everything in their beautiful way. 


I want a sense of privacy and enclosure and since my neighbor and I both enjoy watching wildlife, including those adorable but lazy raccoons, this part of the garden will be designed with large shrubs that attract birds. Right now, it's a mess!


New brick steps were built last fall and lime washed for an antique look. 


These flagstone steps were already in place when I bought the house. 


The faux river rocks reflect the colors of the brick and flagstone steps. 


Handmade concrete caps add extra seating, a spot for me to climb into the terraces to garden, and look nice.


The bottom walls have beautiful curves. I love the combination of the straight against the curvaceous, hard against soft. Once the terraces are full of soil, cool solar lights will be added. Now I just have to save up enough money so I can fill these with plants! 

55 comments:

  1. Impressive! Can't wait to see it planted!

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    1. Thanks! It will be beautiful with something cascading over those front walls.

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  2. I just KNOW you will start some from seed, right? Looks beautiful. The energy of a woman getting her groove back...#priceless!

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    1. Oh yeah, baby! You know it! The next time you come over, you'll have to check it out in person. I'm starting loads of seeds this fall/winter.

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  3. Tammy, I love it all! Cant wait to see it planted 🌻

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  4. Beautiful changes are happening at Casa Mariposa II.

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    1. The disastrous back yard drove me nuts so something had to be done. The roots were so thick on the slope it was a struggle to get any plants in the ground. I have big plans for those terraces.

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  5. Oh Tammy, I am in love with this!! Well done my dear.

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    1. Thanks, Janet! You might need to add one to your slope!

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  6. I'm sure you're enjoying the opportunity to create something on this scale from scratch and make it uniquely your own. I've no doubt you'll be planting gobs of seeds this winter to fill the new beds. Have you drawn up any planting plans yet, or are you just going to let the plants tell you where they want to be?

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    1. I have a list of shrubs I want for the back garden and a mental map of where they're all going to go but those plans rarely proceed as planned. I usually change things around a bit once it's time to plant. It's been tons of fun watching the transformation. :o)

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  7. Oh, I'm so in love with this! Absolutely beautiful and practical, too, and often the two don't go hand-in-hand. Here, they do, wonderfully!

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    1. Thanks so much, Linda! I love functional beauty. :o)

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  8. Your vision is coming alive. It is beautiful! I have no doubt that you will get these terraces filled with beautiful shrubs and flowers. What fun. A big project always comes out more expensive and time consuming that one thinks. Hang in there. It will be finished soon. You will have such fun this winter dreaming up all sorts of planting combos.

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    1. My driveway has six pallets of compost in it! This was significantly more expensive than I budgeted for but the job was a huge one because of all the tree roots and the drainage issues. Plus, I was pretty picky about building materials so I didn't do myself any favors by choosing expensive stuff!

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  9. Just. Wow. So Impressive. Damn those raccoons thought, right? Really, it's just gorgeous and I look forward to seeing how your garden blooms.

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    1. Thanks! Before they added the river rock, it was just a behemoth of cinder block and it looked so big and grey. But once the rock was added and the caps placed, it all came together and I just fell in love with it.

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  10. Very impressive project! Congratulations.

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  11. Tammy this is remarkable ! .. One hell of a project, and when it is ready for planting it will be like Christmas ?
    Canadian raccoons are the same way .. they wink and nudge each other over our trials and tribulations in the garden .. never once lending a hand (obnoxious so and so's) .. it's faux river rock, wow ! does that mean light weight too ? .. it looks amazing !
    Funny enough I am turning more and more to interesting shrubs too .. makes the garden so much easier to look after and yes the wildlife has to admit they like it too ? haha .. I can imagine how pretty it will look at night as well with the solar lights. You have to have one heck of a party to open this garden with .. It deserves that bottle(s) of champagne !!
    But ... make sure those raccoons have a designated driver to get them home OK ? LOL
    Fantastic project girl !
    PS .. I love yellow too and your house is a gorgeous shade of it !

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    1. My friends have already decided I’m having at least one party here next summer and it sounds like fun to me! I’m looking forward to getting as many shrubs in as soon as possible but my budget is tight so I’ll have to be selective. I need to figure out how to grow a money tree!

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  12. A secluded lawn of violets sounds like a slice of paradise!

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    1. I have zillions of violets! A lawn of violets works just fine for me!

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  13. Holy crap! That's awesome, not at all what I was expecting when you said retaining wall... I was foolishly expecting a few railroad ties lol
    I'm impressed by your patience in waiting a whole year plus before doing major planting. I guess having the inside to fiddle with helps, plus cool trips of course!

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    1. The original retaining wall was just a few rotten railroad ties and I hated them. They were massively ineffective. I’m worried if I plant too soon everything will heave as the soil settles so I’m just going to be patient although I may put a few shrubs in over by the garage.

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  14. I think an HGTV show is in your future. Or it should be. Amazing.

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    1. LOL!! Thanks! I’m out of money and projects so my show would last about a minute unless I can figure out how to grow a money tree.

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  15. Incredible transformation! While to you it might seem like it's taking a long time, I'm impressed with how much you've done already. Love the wall(s!) Gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks, Peter!! I’ve only owned the house for nine months and I’ve done a ton of work. But I’m looking forward to developing and designing this garden over time. But I do have several areas I really want to fill with shrubs soon, if I can afford it.

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  16. Triple Wowza's Tammy! Bravo to you for having the foresight and patience to complete the hardscaping first! What a fun space to design and develop. Looking forward to your future posts :)

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I’m excited to have this project to look forward to this spring. It will be awesome to go plant shopping and to start a bunch from seed. It’s a shady area so finding as many as possible that attract pollinators will be challenging but fun.

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  17. Good gosh, that's incredible! If I was going to stay in this house for a long time, I'd ask for your help designing some major garden renos. So, when we eventually move, I might call your name! This is so awesome! Talk about home/garden improvement! It was pretty before, but now it's amazing!

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    1. Thanks, Beth! It adds to the property value, for sure. I’m excited to have a new garden to design. I have a lot of ideas. Call me anytime you need a few!

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  18. It is spectacular! Wowza! That's a lot of compost... Can't wait to see the plants!

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    1. Thanks! The bags barely made a dent in filling the beds so a big bulk order will be coming soon.

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  19. You did a real job there! I can't wait to see the terraced beds in bloom. Your contractors did fine work. And I like the idea of a lawn of violets. They're green, you can walk on them, and they have pretty flowers. What more can you want?

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    1. I like a lawn of violets, too. :o) My contractor is amazing. I can hardly wait to see these beds full of plants.

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  20. WOW!!!Amazing!!! What an incredible transformation. A real work of art, can't wait to see it planted.xxx

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    1. The entire property looks so different from when I bought it last November. I love that I've made it completely my own. Now I just need to add more plants!

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  21. I am adding another WOW!It looks spectacular Tammy I love that you have a half circle at the bottom. I can't wait to see the next phases of your new garden!!

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    1. Thanks, Jen! I'm still filing them with soil so it will be a while until plants are added.

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  22. How beautiful these stone walls.
    I loved the pictures.
    Nice to meet your blog.
    janicce.

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  23. It looks gorgeous! Now you can spend some time dreaming about all the lovely plants you want to put there! I love your ivy covered shed too.

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    1. Thanks, Indie! The ivy covered garage/shed is charming, for sure. I just have to make sure the ivy doesn't take over.

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  24. Hi Tammy, that's an incredible retaining wall, what a feat of engineering! I really love the large river pebbles look. It's going to look stunning when it's full of plants and flowers cascading over the sides. I can't wait to see if all grow and develop.

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    1. I'm excited to see the back garden completed, too, but don't mind that it will be a slow process, which is a new experience for me. I'll be adding as many shrubs as I can this fall and perennials next spring.

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  25. That is a seriously beautiful wall. I find it hard to believe that these are faux rocks. How would one ever tell the difference from the real thing. Good luck with hauling those 300 bags and with the planting.

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  26. They turned our great! Good luck hauling those 300 bags.

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  27. Late to the comment party, but wow, AWESOME!!!!!!!!! You are going to have so much fun with that. Happy for you!

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  28. The Great Wall of China was initially made in 221 BC by joining a few nearby dividers which were worked by ducal states to safeguard their very own domains. Development proceeded up to the Ming tradition (1368-1644), when the Great Wall turned into the world's biggest military structure. Visit http://www.recyclesphere.com/2015/08/cradle-to-cradle-flooring.html this very good website for the more Information.

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  29. It turned out beautiful... what a difference! Now to plant some flowers! ;)

    Cielo

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  30. Very ambitious project, looking great.

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