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Possibilities for backyard terrace (reinforcement walls)  RSS feed

 
Anjovi Kulam
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Hi folks! So I just dug out some rough terraces and am pondering what sort of reinforcement wall would be best for it.
We were thinking of using bricks as shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFJ7CnYbppg

The main pro for this off the bat is that it would be good for general property value if we ever did move out of here.

But I'm imagining there's something more efficient for this particular case and want to find out what it is if so.
The walls in question are at a max 2.5-3 feet high.

The walls themselves I was going to incorporate into the area's were you can still see patches of grass (or parts on each of the steps that i did not dig out yet/ie. Digging those parts out and placing the walls their)

I was thinking of making the walls out of wood and having anchoring posts dug into the ground to nail them to.
Using 8 x 8 lumber for posts and 4 x 8 for the walls.

any ideas?
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Anjovi Kulam
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[img]So after a bit of research I'm thinking what i'll do is:

build a few walls like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIGIGShNr1E starting from the bottom of the hill up making them a max height of about
2-3 blocks each. I'll probably incorporate some sort of drainage pipe at the bottom or something to keep water build up to nothing (if not minimal)

I figure for the top row of the terraces instead of building an additional wall what i'll do is just have a tiny slope and perhaps incorporate a swale system for this row so it moves around the terrace walls. This would just be a cool little garden bed that meets a leveled yard space (for now)

Before we get to work on the terrace walls though I'm probably going to set up the greenhouse at the bottom so i don't end up having to compromise as much.

The idea is to generally do a majority of this as improv (with an accommodating room for error of course! )

Here's a rough sketch i did in paint to summarize the plans so far.
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John Elliott
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The things you learn here at Permies! I would never have thought of using cats as retaining wall blocks. I think I'll try this, as I have an occasional mouse problem in the crawl space which has a retaining wall outside of it.
 
Anjovi Kulam
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haha! Yeah if nothing else they seem to love to hang around it...although the novelty of it might wear off....hmmm maybe i'll leave a little bit of catnip lying about.
 
Rebecca Norman
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food preservation greening the desert solar trees
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Those are not retaining wall blocks, they are sensitive thermal devices, and they indicate that the location is indeed being warmed by solar heat as you had probably hoped.
 
Anjovi Kulam
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That's a good point Rebecca!

but at any rate, here's a bit more progress. been looking at retaining wall blocks and materials at home depot and came out somewere around 1500$ for the materials. I'm ready to make the splurge but i'm suspicious of a possibility that I might be overlooking. I'm wondering if the hill isn't too steep to just dig back some more and make something more...natural? hehe

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Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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I have a very similar slope at my house and about 1.5 years ago I made a three terrace system.
I bought rock by the ton from a landscaping stone yard. I was able to find a price way below even the cheapest stones at lowes or Home Depot and they included delivery on site. Natural stone was less expensive and to my eyes looked better than a preformed block.

I opted to try the dry stack method on my retaining walls and so far they have remained strong with no maintenance. It was the cheapest method possible for making a rock wall, and toads seem to love hanging out by it too. I do not have a photo handy, but I will post one later on.
 
Anjovi Kulam
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that sounds like great idea! I would love to see any pictures you might have.
I'll get to looking for something around here.

many thanks!
 
Patrick Mann
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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I've used tinted ferro-cement to make short retaining walls. The wall ends up slimmer and taking up less real estate than stone or blocks; it doesn't require much concrete. And the tinted, troweled concrete looks pretty good. Downside is that concrete is impervious, so you need to think about allowing water to drain from behind the wall.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Everyone,

I have tried to write this several different ways...and each time it comes out either "elitist" or "preachy," so apologies for that ahead of time.

This being a "permaculture site" the use of concrete that isn't either "recycled" like say...broken up slab...which would work in this case...or...the absolute necessity of its application (which seldom is the case) we collectively do not promote the use of any heavily industrialized product..Especially one with the carbon footprint the size of concretes, nor the industry that continues to push it onto the market and those of us trying to design and build more sustainably...

Wood, even on a slope this severe could render a "living wall" in just a short time with several design possibilities. Gabions would work very well, yet still have a larger carbon footprint than other options. These "rock cages" can also go virtually vertical for several stories, and can support another form of "living wall."

Dry laid so or recycled concrete is going to be the most enduring system, and perhaps the easiest to facilitate by a DIYer...plus it will add the "property value" you mentioned, while still staying inside the "permi coloring lines" if you don't mind the expression.

All these systems should have a good drainage system of packed gravel (and filter cloth if possible.)

Regards,

j
 
Patrick Mann
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Jay, I am on the same page regarding use of concrete. The only reason I suggest it is that this looks like such a small property that using any of the more sustainable options will leave you with only wall and no terrace. Stacked urbanite would definitely be the first choice.
I have also use recycled steel plate for retaining - but that requires special skills and equipment to install.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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This could (I have in the past) make a wonderful stacked "mound garden" (what folks these days are calling "hugelkultur".) No stone, totally organic and plantable all over it....

Even with the stone method you just cut back more (and probably should) if you do not want to loose horizontal square footage...
 
Anjovi Kulam
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That sounds great! You mentioned creating a living wall out of wood. Is this what you reffered to as hugelkultur?
I see a form section dedicated to that so i'll poke around there.

but if not i'd love to know what that is. Otherwise the mention of recycled cement or a dry laid are interesting to think about.
Mainly just want to make something efficient out of what that slope was.
 
Anjovi Kulam
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So I was looking at hugelkultur stuff and i have the rough idea of it. Which is producing a particularly consistent environment (water retaining/swale/logs, Heat/Rocks)
I can't quite imagine how to effectively incorporate it into a slope like this.

Do you have any tips or references I can get some ideas from? I'm pretty new to all of this and am really digging the idea of a living wall as opposed to spending alot of space/resources on stone and gravel.
many thanks!

I just attached a paint sketch of a side view of how the hill originally was and what the current plan was. I don't know if paint might be an easy way to visualize any ideas but let me know at your convenience (I'm sort of in that area were i'm not sure that i should be reading more up on the stuff as opposed to potentially wasting your folks time, but I feel at this point I could take what you share and apply it..)
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Jay C. White Cloud
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Hey Anjovi,

Well I can see your "creative side" is still thinking...I like that. So...look at the below for more inspiration and ideas...I will answer your question where I can about each method, with their s pluses and minuses.

straw bale terracing

tire terracing

errosion control terracing methods

gabion terracing

living walls



 
Anjovi Kulam
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Thanks Jay! going to delve into these some more when i get off of work, from the quick glance i got though i can imagine a combination of some of these (mainly erosion control)
anywho's I'll be back to see if i can find a good propisition.
 
Miles Flansburg
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I am gonna make a sugestion but it may not be long term enough, just brainstorming with you.

Do you have access to lots of logs ? Maybe from local tree care companies? Or local forests where you can collect firewood?

If you want to try a hugel/ wall combination ( which I am not sure has ever been done before?) You could start at the bottom of the hill and lay down a long row of logs, maybe start with two rows side by side.
Then fill in a small amount of soil over them and move slightly up hill. So the next row of logs are higher and slightly behind the first. Sorty of like a set of stairs. You can leave the faces of the logs exposed as the "walls".

Continue laying rows of logs, working your way up the hill. If you would like you could leave strips of soil between rows, to give yourself more soil to plant in.
I am thinking that you would want to make the hill less steep over all, but you may not have to.

Now plant the whole area, be sure to plant legumes. Mixing in perennial plants with your annuals will also hold the soil.

Over time the logs will soak up water, begin to break down, and hold the slope back.

The amount of time the logs will function as "wooden walls" ( just as rocks or blocks would have been walls) Depends on the size of the logs.
 
Anjovi Kulam
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That's interesting Miles, I've been cooking up a little something (although half baked) myself that could be considered similar in some aspects.

This is just a rough sketch, but what I'm mainly trying to convey here is some sort of hugelkultur/retainingwall/swale sort of setup. I have NO grounded idea of how this might be useful...hehe

I was mainly just trying to think of ways to have everything working in such a way that it might hold itself together, be accessible and perhaps provide some usefulness to the rest of the backyard garden. I sort of had the idea of these mini "U" shaped walls come out at the top right corner/bottom left corner or vice versa. I have no idea if the 2 semi walls would have any practical use (those terrace plateau's that they make) or if it would help in stabilizing the general setup for the long term.....and save on the biological imprint/money/etc. I was thinking that alot of the stability could be allocated to certain plants/roots but having the mini walls their as well could be useful and look neat.

-I was thinking that the slopes themselves could be a potential place for hugelkultur to happen (swales for water,logs for retaining water, stones for pathway + heat) was thinking that with the right plants they could be stable enough to function.
-The mini Ushaped, retaining walls could be used for general stability of the whole thing + room for whatever would grow good their. No idea of it's practicality. add some french drains/drainage pipe behind them.
-have some swale system that can provide water for both the slope portion of the yard as well as garden beds below (around were the green house is in the pictures)

I don't feel their is much else in the way of explaining it (feel free to pick my brain on what it was thinking), but I wanted to bounce it off you guys. Maybe course correct it if it has any potential. I was thinking that their could be dozens of ways to modify it and do cool things with it....but...that' s inexperienced me talking.

edit notes:

-Though off the bat I'd probably reverse how the terrace walls are, as the sunlight comes through in such a way that the higher wall would be blocking some of the light. It wouldn't be as much of a problem the other way.
-I forgot to draw berms
-The little grey circles are stones
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Anjovi Kulam
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Or perhaps i could just do something like this. I figure with either setup I could cut the hill back a bit to make the overall slope less steep.
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Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Seems to me that if you went a little further in that direction you could just make the slope so long and gradual that all you needed was a swale, berm. And skip the walls completely.
 
Anjovi Kulam
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I'm starting to like the sound of that more, perhaps i can just make pathways that help reinforce what little pressure their is.
I suppose at that rate what I'd need to do is just find a way to fill in what I dug out without too much erosion happening.
 
Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Here are the pics of the stones.









The original idea was to plant trees and garden on each terrace, but we ended up moving out of the house and letting grass take over. This has a specific curbside aesthetic, that I was going for then, now I would probably be way more likely to go the route of changing the slope more and using free logs to create the landscape with hugel.


 
Anjovi Kulam
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I wouldn't mind stone like that actually as little mini walls inbetween the slope beds (if i need them at all). I'm looking forward to carving out the hill and showing the next phase of the plan (and progress pictures) just gotta give my back a day or two to recuperate..hehe

also have gaia's garden as well as seppholzer's permaculture ordered. Previously read a bit of both of them on my ebook reader but I'm thinking a good second look with their paperback versions should be a good second take in fleshing this plan out some more. I'm thinking it's safe to say that creating that slope should be a productive use of time though and will lay the ground for whats next.

pics are starting to show a little more of how it's going to look overall though. I'm thinking for were I put pathways on the hill (between the garden beds and inbetween the greenhouse and stairs) I'll probably have to put mini walls up but if i can get a good stone to double as a pathway that could be pretty neat. from their i can design some sort of swale/berm system to direct water to all of the beds and perhaps have something going towards the green house as well.

Still don't have any particular plants in mind yet, but am thinking that will come as i continue shaping things and reading up on books, experimenting, etc.
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Anjovi Kulam
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I've been looking into 'the angle of repose' and have not found anything really solid pertaining to my project.
Just wondering if anyone might have a guess as to what angle i should shoot for. From what I've gathered the soil
is clay.

Does that mean I should be safe as long as it falls under 40 degrees? If so I'm thinking i can just get going on that and make room for little pathways in between certain garden rows as I go, as well as swale/berms when I'm ready to implement them.
 
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