We bought our house in Nov of last year and while there’s a ton we love about it there’s also been a lot of work whipping it back in to shape. One of the projects we had completed right away was removing several dead trees that threatened the house. One tree was a giant oak that was probably an awesome tree while alive but unfortunately ivy had been allowed to grow all the way to the top and it was completely choked out and dead as a door nail. This tree sat no more than 4-5 ft in front of the house so taking it down was a no brainer. If this would’ve fell it would’ve taken out about 1/2 of our house. Trying to find the silver lining we decided where the tree sat would be a great place for a patio. While removing the tree the heavy equipment was the breaking point for an old retaining wall that was barely still standing. After they were done with removing the tree the wall had just completely failed and I knew to do the patio the first step would be putting in a new retaining wall.
I wanted a block that was a little ragged and imperfect. I didn’t want the wall to look too new as I’m trying to maintain the character of our 1934 home. I also needed the block to be gray since that was the color of all the other stone work around the property. I found a block that fit the bill at Menards. It’s a block by Crestiline ( I think) and the color was “quarry gray”. Menards is currently running their 11% rebate plus I’m getting 5%cash back at home improvement stores with my Chase card this quarter so now was the perfect time to do this project.
I didn’t really have a budget for this project but after it was all said and done I ended up having about $1200 in the project. You could definitely do it for cheaper though. I paid $360 for my delivery of 21 tons of #4 stone. I didn’t need but maybe a ton for my backfill but I needed to touch up some sections of my driveway so I just went ahead and got a full load with the plan of using the leftover for my driveway. Also I bought some tools that I didn’t really need like a 6ft level. I have two 4ft levels already but I had been looking for an excuse to buy a 6 footer and this was my chance. Realistically if you were on a tight budget you could do this same wall for around $700 if you already had all the tools you need.
Speaking of tools, the tools I used were:
-Spade shovel and flat shovel
-4lb mini sledge and 4″ chisel
-rubber mallet (this gets used ALOT…get a good one)
-2025r tractor with and a few different implements (obviously not at all needed but very helpful when working alone)
As I said this was my first retaining wall and it was going to have to be a “stepped wall” so that complicated it a bit. I didn’t know how to measure where my steps would be so I just had to run my first row level until I came to a point where the majority of the next block to be laid was going to be buried. When I hit that point I would go a head and lay the next block almost fully buried then step up to continue on. It worked out but it was definitely not the most efficient way to do it as I kept having to dig throughout the project. I would’ve much preferred to do all the digging at once. I ended up having 2 “step ups” for my 40 ft wall. Another issue I ran into was I built up my drainage pipe to quickly on the first part of the wall so by the time I got to the end the drainage pipe was about 3 rows up. I think it’ll be fine due to the extra wide trench I made for all the drainage stone and because the block is so imperfect there are plenty of gaps for water to weep through the face. Only time will tell on that though. I’ll need to go through a couple winters to see how it’s really holding up.
I had all my materials staged and ready to go around noon this past Thursday and I finished the wall yesterday evening around 6pm but that was after only working on it for a few hrs. The majority of work was done Fri and Sat so this wall basically took me about 3 days to build by myself.
Album here: https://imgur.com/a/bpbVva2