That’s the Wandering Monk up there looking like a rather tall member of the seven dwarves. That’s him taking a break from carving out the channel that will hold the footer for the retaining wall. That’s him with the block newly delivered to my driveway. You don’t see the pallet with the 54 sacks of concrete on it.
Still. Even with five pallets of block and one of concrete to go, the big, scary project is now a whole lot less scary.
Because this …
… and this …
… are done.
It took two days of this …
… plus an equal amount of shoveling by hand.
But except for a few small bits, the earth-moving part is complete.
Oh, and you on the Living Freedom Safety Patrol, don’t worry. That propane tank won’t be left in such a precarious position. On Monday we’ll concrete a pair of 4×4 posts into the ground and by Tuesday that tank will be securely strapped to them and its little earth island well bolstered with rocks or blocks.
On Monday we come to the last bit of footer-trench digging, pouring the footer, and laying the bottom course of retaining-wall block into the still-wet cement.
You might have noticed those aren’t standard concrete blocks the Monk was posing with. They’re extremely heavy-duty interlocking landscape blocks in contrasting colors:
My intention was always to do a standard vertical cinderblock wall, rebarred, cemented, and mortared. Then at the last minute we ran into a big supply problem. We could not get the bond-beam type block we wanted. I tried planning a hasty switch to a solid concrete wall, mono-poured (footer and wall in a single ready-mix pour). But that proved very expensive once both the cement truck and the wood for the forms were calculated in.
I’d been avoiding the idea of landscape block, partly because I don’t like the way it leans back into the hill (really wanted a straight wall I could sit on top of) and partly because I assumed it wasn’t strong enough. But I stumbled on these giant heavy-duty ones. They weigh nearly 50 pounds per block, have a solid lower-lip interlock and aren’t bad-looking at all. And Home Depot was willing to deliver. So there they are.
As a bonus it turns out that making a wall from these will cost considerably less in labor and secondary supplies (cement and rebar, in particular), though the block itself was on the high side, as cement blocks go.
But the main thing is, the big scary part’s done. Now it’s just the mechanics of the wall. Getting the footer right. Getting the drainage right. Making a trip across town for a pickup load of the right kind of gravel. Nothing that can’t be handled.
Given the weight of these blocks, the Monk might have to do more of the heavy lifting than I originally intended. But I’ll assist and will be in charge of aesthetics. Home Depot didn’t have enough of one color of block to make the entire wall. So I got about 4/5 rose-gray, about 1/5 gray and we’ll mix the plain grays in at carefully chosen “random” intervals.
This part of the work, I’m excited about!
And I will be so relieved this winter to have less water seeping under the house to rot and undermine the foundation. Once this is done … it’s on to the foundation itself, the last giant, scary project of all. But I’ll wait at least a few months and maybe until next year before taking that on. Enough’s enough. Mind and body will crave some rest after this.