5/2015 West Mountain Stone 2'.5" H x 52' L Retaining Wall, 4 steps, 1 cheekend. Located on Wiseburg Road in White Hall MD. This was the first project of the season for me. Felt so good after a bad winter to get out and do some walling. The client for the project contacted me last year about a backyard makeover. They had contacted a LARGER landscape company in the area T?? which came up with a design for PA Fieldstone. Calling "DRY LAID" including drainage tiles, and mortar on the back side. WHAT PART OF THAT SOUNDS dry laid???????? I don't want to get off on a rampage about landscape companies sticking with landscaping not hardscapes. Sadly they (majority) give the Dry Laid Craft a bad rap when dry stack walls fall over in less than 5 years. The other part is that waller's like myself have to compete $$ which typically wallers end up being higher because we are building the walls properly. This means more stone which = more labor, hauling.... This project is made up of 130 Face Feet of wall = 19 tons of stone (each truck load was weighed) 38,000 pounds
-:- by 130 = 300 pounds of natural stone per Face Foot.
Enough of that - on to the fun stuff.
When I look at a space I ask myself 1) What do I like and what would I change? The first thing that I saw as a tunnel. Look at the before. Can you entertain in this backyard? No space - ZIPPO. 2) What colors would work best in the space is now the next questions. PA FIELDSTONE (dark brown, red, blue). Are you kidding me? No way. The house is brown and you need to open up the area. A nice tan color will complement the home and the garage to the left. Plus give the area a larger sense of space.
The orange line as you may have noticed by now if you're still with me on this blog. This is the suggested new wall. Ya Ok you saw that in the first picture - sorry no surprising you any more with the content. I felt they had the room so let's move the wall back. Giving more space for the every evening of grilling. Man how often do you work all day just to have to smell the hot cooking of a grill at 5ish. I should have charged a pain and suffering fee. Yes of course they offered. But if I went home with a full belly my wife would be heartbroken we didn't spend a evening together for your dinner.
The clients agreed my suggestions made great sense - go bigger, opening up the space for hanging out. Now they will be able to really use there backyard. What I haven't mentioned was the only reason they wanted a wall was because the old one was falling over. Nothing more. I felt that if you're going to make an investment why not get more out of what you want. I was able to offer them a larger space for entertaining with an updated proper built dry laid stone retaining wall. Yes your right it doesn't have any mortar on the back side. How cool is that? Free draining and flexible.
I choose the West Mountain Stone which can be picked up at many of our stone yards in the PA/MD region. For the project I had a tri-axle of stone dumped at my farm then brought over a truck load at a time as needed. This stone comes from an area above Scranton PA. The stone as you can see has a very nice brown, full in colors and flat bedded (look like books). I enjoy working with on a November 2014 retaining wall project because the stone is hard but easy to shape if needed. The section to the left in the above photo is a 26" height. As the all moves past the steps in the middle it then jumps to 30". I worked alot on adjusting the grade for the client which complained about the amount of run off they would get. Sometimes coming into their home. After adjusting the earth I got to building the wall. More photos to come with this blog so check back next week to read and see more.
We talked about the placement of the steps which lead to the upper buildings. The window closest to you in this picture may one day be a door. So I was sure to give a nice compromise of walk flow from the front (side) door at the opposite end of this portion of the home and the window (future door).
When I build steps I like to place stones at top (some times) and bottom (always) in the grade for a couple reasons. 1) I feel offers what I call a welcome mat suggesting you travel this way. 2) Limits the growth of grass... also directing you to the steps visually. For the steps I used the largest stones I had available. Which can always be a challenge if you don't have what you need. You just have to make due and compromise. I was running out of large single stone for making each step as seen in the first lower two. To speed up the process I had one larger tread that just happened to me 6" thick and 6' long so I feather & wedged the stone into two. Giving me the top two steps. I had one last large stone that had been shipped down in my bulk load of stone. I brought it over and the homeowner loved it. So this is now the welcome stone set in earth at the bottom. As you can see this is a real doozy.
I don't know these old concrete steps are starting to grow on me. Maybe I should go dig them back up where I buried them. I really can't figure out why someone felt it was a great idea to build with all this small stone for a wall. 80% of the stone I just disposed of onsite. What a waste but there was more mortar than stone I felt. To bad not being able to reuse materials onsite.
I will be sure to add some more to this blog first of next week. I'd also like to add that in the process of project I spent a great deal of time testing out all the PANTS WITH KNEE pads. Blog to come soon: http://www.rockinwalls.com/2014/12/blog-coming-soon-work-pants-with-knee.html