Here is my submission for the Earthworks - Sand - Build a Small Stack Retaining Wall BB.
To document the completion of the BB, I have provided the following:
- Your area before starting
- Progress about halfway through, showing some of the rocks stacked and with the space behind for gravel
- Finished project
I built a dry stack retaining wall to protect an apple tree 5ft up a hugelmound. I had to rebuild it a few times, but it was all a good learning experience.
“There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.”
― G. K. Chesterton
Could an herb spiral qualify? After looking at requirements, I can see room for improvement, but would the project itself work?
I found limestone bricks being given away for this project. Then I trolled the neighborhood close to my house on trash day and picked up a full truck of leaf filled paper bags. We put the leaves in the chicken coop to keep them warm and used the bags to line the bottom of the herb spiral. I have many layers of mulch in there including bark from firewood we collected over the years, grass clippings, leaves, sawdust. I haven't put the top soil layer on yet and am willing to rework it so it lasts longer.
I angles it so the opening collects water when it rains. It's about 6 to 8 feet across.
My basement wall is brick sitting on field stone. The field stone is mostly below ground. For several years before I fixed the guttering, water from the roof would end up flowing through the wall and had caused considerable damage to anything wooden with in a foot of the wall. This included a workbench, tool lockers, finished walls, the basement stairs and floor boards. After ripping out most of the rotten wood and fixing the gutter, I set to, building a vapour barrier, drainage system and sump pump within the basement wall. I have built dug drains and all the water falling on the house is now channelled 20+ feet from the house, and slightly down hill, where it can soak into my soil below my fruit forest. Within the next year, I’ll set up barrels to store some of the rain water. For now, I just have to get the house ready for winter.
The basement windows are in a bad way. When we moved in, back in April, they were all boarded up and trapped moisture had caused extensive rot. There was some evidence of window wells but decades of neglect meant they were full of soil, trees and other plants. I investigated my options and decided with the work I was doing to move water away from the house and accept that water that does make it through the walls is dealt with, I didn’t need deep wells with drains. In addition my soil is 99% sand and gravel. It drains exceedingly well and we are on the top edge of a valley going down to the Hudson. We are in the lowest risk category for flood risk and the water table is very deep.
My vision is to restore the windows and add shutters. There’s evidence that they once had shutters. The well will have plants growing in containers that can be appreciated from inside. Initially, I was going to simply dig down and install a metal semi circle, the kind sold in box stores. Once I started work, I realised that I could use the resource at hand, the field stone buried where I was digging.
My wall is just over two foot high and roughly twelve feet long, in an arc. It’s stepped with a semi circular section with a radius an inch bigger than half the width of the window. Once the wall reached level with the window sill, I filled in behind with more stone and continued the wall much further back, so shutters could be fully opened, flat against the wall.
Here are the pictures which show the steps I took, including building a rough guide to aid construction.
The much neglected window back in March before we bought the house.
Quarrying old field stone and digging the well
The well before stonework
I marked a line on the wall 8 inches above ground level. I used this to check how deep I need to dig for this to qualify. In reality, I would have dug this deep anyway.
Taking measurements for my building guide
Marking up, cutting and constructing my guide from salvaged plywood
Checking the guide worked
Sharp gravel as per BB requirements
First stones laid
Using the guide
Checking room for shutters to open with second guide
Work in progress
Finished wall level with course at 25 inches high, showing 2 over 1 build next to existing wall
Section of wall - mostly 2 over 1, or many over 1
Part of the drainage system that takes water away from the house
The plan I have implemented on the inside of the basement
The internal wall solution - vapour barrier and drainage pipe, bottom right
This was hard work! I probably spent 12 hours over three days on the outside part and weeks of planning and building on the inside part. A great physical and metal challenge.
Here's my submission for this BB. I built a small retaining wall in the berm on the east side of Turtle Lot, about halfway up. It ended up a bit more than 4 feet wide and exactly 2 feet tall, and underneath it I put an additional 3" of sharp gravel in a trench the width of the base to provide drainage. (There was no specific info in the BB description to clarify what constituted a foundation and good drainage, so I hope this will fit the bill.)
I started with a wide base and narrowed as I built so it appears to lean into the berm, and I filled the back side with sharp gravel, as specified. I added the gravel fill after each row and there are definitely some rocks resting on it.
I did my best to place the long stones perpendicular to the wall rather than lengthwise, build in regular rows, and keep it 2-over-1 and 1-over-2. It's not perfect, but I was able to climb up it to the top of the berm afterwards, and stand on it without it moving, so I'm pretty satisfied it will last until the berm itself moves enough to cause it to lose its integrity.
I'm attaching photos of:
-- the area before starting (shovel marks the projected top of the wall, though it ended up going higher in the end
-- my gravel foundation, providing good drainage (two pics: with tape measure before and after I filled with gravel, showing that it's 3" deep)
-- progress at what I hoped was the halfway point, but it was more like 1/3 of the way done, with gravel clearly visible behind the wall (two pics: top view and front view)
-- 3 pictures of the finished project, showing the wall overall with the height, a closeup of the height on the tape measure, and the width.