My terrace project


Old 09-21-10, 09:26 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10
My terrace project

Although I'm 100% disabled and had never did any kind of paver work before, last year year I decided that I wanted to terrace my front yard and remove the limestone and river rock around the city house. I also wanted to spruce up the gardens that were either dying because they didn't get enough sunlight or because they didn't get enough attention. Working by hand so as to not damage any tree roots, my terrace project took me better than three months to complete and I puttered on my project every day that it didn't rain after work. Throughout my project I kept something of a photo log and thought folks on this forum would enjoy looking at what I did.

I began by removing the stacked limestone around an ash tree in the front yard and built a ring.

The ring turned out well and I'm pleased that I purchased a 14" chop saw and diamond blade to cut concrete

I then turned my attention to the garden under my back deck. This garden needed watering twice a day and it was ringed by limestone that had cracked up and turned very ratty. The end result turned out well and I plumbed an automatic soaker system to water the garden and while I was at it, I plumbed a water tap to the deck above this garden.

I then turned my attention to the planned 80 foot terracing wall in the front yard.

Before I started I had no idea that there was 18" of compacted, root-infested rocks under the junipers I had already removed.

Three weeks and four yards of the stuff later and I had dug out all of the old rock. I then relocated a downspout with 20' of 4" ID PVC and began digging the wall.

The wall is sitting on about 4-6" of play sand. I didn't want to use paver base because it's ph would mess with the large white pine in the front yard that is, in my mind, the crowning jewel of the property. My goal was to set around 10-20 blocks a day and finish with the wall by July 20th.

As a break, I custom cut topper for a couple of days.

With the hassle of leveling and setting blocks the best I could hope to do was about six base blocks a day. As such, I took another break and set landscaper fabric behind the blocks and then backfilled with pea gravel while using a dirt berm to hold the pea gravel in place so that the wall would resist frost heaving in the winter.

Six more days on the project and I had finished the eighty foot wall on July 19th. Now I've got to dig in and begin to set pavers and use paveres to edge the gardens much like i did in the backyard.

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Old 09-21-10, 09:30 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: USA
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Tonight's activities. Working by hand I made a dent in the sod. Although the photo doesn't show it, where the grass was thickest, I relocated the sod along the outside of the wall.

I slowed down when I hit the limestone under the bench and after removing the limestone, I called it a night.

Progress continues. I've nearly finished busting out the sod and digging down four inches, and using all of it to backfill the terrace I'm building. I worked slow today to accommodate my handicap but also because I needed to relocate a vine and finish pulling up the root-infested landscaper fabric that had lined the old flower beds.

This the progress I made over last weekend.

Since I'm quickly heading into building the flower garden borders again, work which is very slow and putzy, I thought I'd share some detail photos of the herringbone pattern to hold things over while I spend more time than you'd think is necessary building some more of the flower gardens.

The flower garden borders require time for the landscaper's glue to set and require hacking into all kinds of roots in order to set.

I chased in some more pavers waiting for the glue to dry. Saturday I take delivery of two more pallets of material.

I lost two evenings of work to rain on Friday and Saturday but I tried to catch up for lost time today. I ran out of light to cut all of the fitted pavers and so weather permitting, Monday, I'll work on filling the gaps with cut and fitted pavers.

So far the pavers extend 26 ft from the driveway encompassing one of the three gardens.

Old 09-21-10, 09:33 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10
Because the white pine's roots need time to grow into the new soil that has been applied, my plan is to terminate the pavers at some point and come back another season and finish. Here I am playing around with one version of where to terminate the pavers. The idea is to cover the unpaved area with shredded cedar chips and plant Japanese spurge over the chips as ground cover to allow the white pine time to grow.

Detail photo of edging.

I made some more progress this weekend.

I repeatedly needed to stop and pick up pears that were falling off of the pear tree to keep from attracting bees in my work area.

I ran out of sand and bricks again and so I went to the home supply store and picked up a day's worth of material. In this photo you can also see that I need to stop setting pavers and return to putzing with the border. You can see that I turned the scalloped edging upside down to get the appearance I want.

It has rained more often than not this week and so I haven't had much of an opportunity to work on my landscaping project. Worse: I plan to have the hardscaping aspect completed by the end of August and I've gone from being ahead to being behind and we've more rain coming Monday evening.

However, the grass is looking better.

I took advantage of today's sunny weather to finish the garden edging.

Today I tried to make up for lost time by tamping in over 30 bags of sand and placing over 200 pavers. My neighbors who take the time to walk up the drive to chit-chat can now see my design vision.

I'm using unopened bags of dirt to support my garden surrounds while I tamp in sand on the inside.

Mid-day I ran out of sand and so I chased off the the store and picked up 150 more pavers and 15 bags of sand. But since I used all of those materials today, as it was getting dark, Bill the dog and I chased off to the store again and picked up another 200 pavers and eight more bags of sand. I called it a day after I unloaded everything.

Old 09-21-10, 09:36 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: USA
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I've spent the last two evenings catching up custom cutting the edging. The pavers look good. Next Thursday, the plan is to visit a large nursery and pick up some plants.

Detail of the block work.

I'm still a little behind my August deadline when I consider that once I'm done setting and cutting all of the pavers, I still need to rent a compactor and sweep polymeric sand into the joints and that is a full day of work. I also need to set the garden edging on the back side of the gardens too.

Since I shared last time, I've finished setting the pavers. I still need to set the pavers with locking sand. This is a photo from the entry stoop.

And two photos looking toward the driveway.

This evening I'll be looking at plants at the nursery.

For perspective, here is a photo of the same space taken in the Fall from six years ago. Buck the dog is still with us but he is getting to be an old puppy.

Thursday, my sister and I picked up a bunch of plants at a local nursery. Having bought out one nursery of Japanese spurge, Saturday I picked up a more plants from Home Depot (of all places), and then went to Menards and purchased ten bags of polymeric locking sand, and rented a plate compactor from a local rental place. My brother had popped into town and so I put him to work running the plate compactor while I swept in the sand. After cleaning up, I then chased off to Menards and in two trips picked up a yard of top soil and four yards of shredded cedar mulch. I came home and repeatedly wet the polymeric sand to set it in place.

Sunday I began by relocating the two carriage bolts that support the swing sixteen inches toward the house and away from the new walkway, so the passthrough path from the sunken patio out to the walkway would be better defined and more obvious. Then I threw down the yard of top soil and spread it out. Afterward, I planted all but two of of the non-ground-cover plants from Thursday's shopping. Afterward, I spread about two yards of the shredded cedar. I'm at the fun planting stage now Monday I'm off to find a couple of hardy Minnesotan plants for the third garden so that I can get all of the large plants in and spread the cedar mulch before planting the 80 or so Japanese spurge as ground cover.

The general idea of what everything will look like when I'm finished can now be seen.

And Buck the black lab has been hanging around now that the dust has settled and the world's loudest chop saw and been put away.

I didn't work on the project today but instead visited three nurseries on a quest for a new water fountain. Eventually I picked up a dozen more hosta, one pepper plant, dinner for two and this 201 pound water fountain.

Old 09-21-10, 09:39 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10
It is getting dark early now and I'm running out of light by the time I get done running errands to work on the project. Notwithstanding, I got the fountain set up on an 18" square slab and I ran power out to it and fired it up. I also couldn't resist buying some mums while I was at the store.

I thought I should share photos of the finished project.

Old 09-22-10, 05:25 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: mid-west
Posts: 186
very impressive! well done

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