Retaining Walls

How To Update The Appearance Of A Home with Retaining Walls


How to Update the Appearance of a Home with Retaining Walls

So today we are doing a simple remodeling project. We are going to be updating the face of this house. We have some timber walls that have probably been here for 15 or 20 years. Now although they are in very good condition, it’s just the look that outdates this project. So what we’re going to be doing is, we are going to be removing this triple terrace retaining wall and installing a double terraced retaining wall.

The reason we are going to be eliminating one whole terrace is because it’s not needed. And it will eliminate a little bit of the expense in the overall budget. So this bottom wall that you see right here, this is going to be eliminated entirely. And then the soil is going to be graded down to the curb line. You can see where the water inlet pipe sticks out of the ground by about 18 inches. That’s where somebody had come in before and built a retaining wall where the grade used to be. So we are going to revert it back to the original grade for the bottom terrace. Then the upper two retaining walls are going to be approximately the same height. But we are going to update it using boulders.

Walls Removed

So we are back at the site. We have the retaining walls removed and we are going to be doing something that is a little bit unique to a job site. We have to go and actually take the excavator off from the site and harvest our own stones for this job. Normally what we would like to do is just call and place an order and have the boulders delivered. We would typically just give out the sizes that we want, the quantity of each size that we want, and then hope and pray that we would get the right stones brought out to our site.

Because this is a smaller job site, and this is one of those sites that are going to get a lot of notoriety and a lot of visibility, and it’s basically a remodeling job and we really want to do things the right way, we’re going to actually go out and individually pick up the stones for this project. We are going to be using a modular type of design for the boulder walls with the random stones thrown in.

We’re going to achieve a flat face and a flat top on it. To do that we can’t have irregular sized stones brought out; we need some consistency and we need to have the control to be able to pick out each and every stone that’s going to go into this project. So the next thing we are going to be doing is loading that excavator up, hauling it out to the aggregate pit, mining our own stones for this site, and then bringing it all back here and putting everything in place.

Aggregate Pit

So we are at the aggregate pit.  We have hand selected the stones specifically for this project. What I want to show you is a comparison of stones. Now these stones are sized for the job that we’re on. Right behind us we have also selected stones for the next project we’re going on. That is a 2000 square foot engineered boulder retaining wall; we’re just going to show you the difference. What we are going to be dealing with on this next project is a 14 foot tall wall that has to be built to keep the house from sliding into a lake. So when we get into the larger projects, we like to use larger stones. We have set this up so that we have all of our stones ready to go; these will be base stones on the next job.

But you can see that this stone would have absolutely no business being on the job that we are currently working on. It’s a little bit of a unique relationship we have that gives us the ability to actually come into the aggregate pit and personally select the stones. The only way we could do this is by making arrangements well in advance.  Then we made an agreement which allows us to come in and do that. That gives us the ability to make sure that whatever it is we are building, we have the right materials for that specific job site.

End of Project

So we are at the final stage into this project. We have imported pulverized green black dirt, we have spread it, hand-raked it out and got it ready for the customer who was going to put their own seed or sod in place. What I want to point out on this project is it’s not a very big retaining wall, and so it takes a certain amount of craftsmanship and skill to build a small retaining wall, but to still make it so it’s not busy.

When you are using smaller stones like these 12 and 18-inch stones, it’s easy for the wall to get overwhelming very quickly. So what we like to do is to bring in a few bigger stones that break up the pattern. We still have consistency throughout the wall, but it’s not repetitive over and over again. To accomplish this we actually had to import about 15 extra tons of stones and hand-pick through them. By doing that we were able to get the best of the best and put them in place for this customer’s retaining wall.  I think the results speak for themselves.


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