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Weekend warriors: more landscaping

Posted by joeabbott on October 7, 2012

P9300004coop projects 007Around April of 2010, when we put in our chicken coop, we built a small path on the west side of the coop, nearest the hill. Over time we’ve found this area needed a reassessment: bumped heads, damaged shoulders, and a bit too much tricky negotiation when small rocks dislodged from the hill motivated a change. But what a pain! We had installed a French drain, laid in paver stones, and the hillside steeply ascends just after the drain.

But, we had to do what we had to do. And what we started last weekend, we finished this weekend.

Last Sunday Suzy and I dug out the hillside, pulled up the drain piping, removed the pavers, and smoothed out the path. During the week I laid the first two levels of the retaining wall, yesterday we finished off the wall, and today we back-filled with gravel and sand, finished with compost and top soil, and planted a lot of bulbs.

It was a heckuva lotta work and It was great knocking out this project together … if only to have another pair of hands helping with the hard work.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend’s project.


I was feeling ill on Saturday but, by Sunday, it had passed and I was able to get out and start putting my back into the project. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I had a bunch of lumber and actually thought I’d be laying in the foundation. Knocking out the hillside, getting rid of all the rocks (we put the rocks to use maintaining our old dry streambeds and putting in a new, short section), and just preparing the way took a lot of time. We created quite the mess and the dry summer made for a lot of dust and dry sand.



Over the course of the week, I got out twice and managed about an hour and a half each of the nights in putting in parts of the retaining wall. In the first picture below, note the “bird’s beak” notch I put in the timber to ensure I had a good fit between the members. I’m a little proud of that one!

In the second picture, we can see the wall coming together.



Once the first tier is in, the rest is pretty easy. Having my saw on the job site made for a super easy project but it still took all day. I had to go to the store another couple times to pick up more rebar, more spikes, and more 4×4 timbers. I thought I was going to go 2-3 timbers high, but ended up going about 7 tiers high. I wanted to put in a dead man about mid-span but the wall proved stout enough that it wasn’t necessary.


We put in a stepped end to the south part of the wall, and I thought we’d just mound in dirt, plant a shrub or something, and let that block things off. Well, once we got the dirt in and looked at it, I really needed to put in a cap to keep the dirt from just falling out.


Today was all about putting in the dirt. Sounds easy but, again, this was another all-day project.

I started by buying some of the top-soil/compost to mix in with the sandy soil we had. Then I laid in the drainage, worked to get the right slope, surrounded it with gravel, then laid in a lot of the sand. Once I got near the top, I laid in the sandy/composty mix, and finally topped it off with 3: of quality soil.

In the picture on the left (the south end), you can see the makings of the dry streambed we put in and the stepped cap. While the whole thing is all straight lines, I’m quite happy with how it turned out and how it will allow us a nice passage way on the west side of the coop.


What’s next?

For this project, we still need to lay in a bit of plants (Suzy has them on order), throw down some crushed gravel, and then keep fixing the parts the chickens destroy. We laid down chicken wire over the beds to keep them from digging at it, but we’re sure they’ll find some weakness in our plan and exploit it to wreak a little havoc on Suzy’s new garden.

I have to say we’re getting pretty good at putting up this style of wall. We have them all over the yard and their both functional and aren’t as bad looking as I’d feared. But, for the immediate future, I see nothing but a long shower, time off my feet, and a little Xbox.

How’s your weekend been?


One Response to “Weekend warriors: more landscaping”

  1. Momma said

    i am truly amazed at your ability to solve serious problems that arise in your garden! Sounds like a ton of work for both of you, but I’m really glad you got it all done. Now I have something new to investigate when I’m out there next! Momma

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