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Backyard retaining wall & fence project #2: removing timber...ug

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Blog entry by Holbs posted 05-17-2020 12:10 AM 314 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Sunday results: I need to quit smoking and hit the gym Part 2 of Backyard retaining wall & fence project series Part 3: 65' long x 3' high x 12" deep excavated. About to remove first cement post footing »

About 35% of my backyard fence blew down during a 65mph+ wind storm. Fence was built with the house back in 2006. Tis a standard looking fence that you see everywhere built horribly incorrect but did it’s purpose for almost 15 years. Original 12’ x 4” x 6” posts every 6 feet with 3 boards of 2” x 12” for the actual retaining wall (pressure treated too) and 6’ dog ear cedar fencing.
Also to note: 95% of my neighbor fence was blown over as well since the fence line runs all across the back of my neighbors:

I had to decide to replace 1 for 1 or try something different. Pricing of going timber came to around $800 for the 2×12’s and 4×6’s. The utilitarian grey BORG retaining wall blocks come in around $950. Seeing how timber would eventually rot from 10-20 years, I am going retaining wall blocks. Though not as fancy as some, no human eyes will fall upon this retaining wall so the cheapest blocks work for this 3’-4’ wall. Something like this with back lip and 2 cavities that I’ll have to fill in with 3/4” gravel:

I’ve already removed all the dog ear boards. Also removed 4 of the 4”x4” cemented gate door posts with Hi-Lift bumper jack & chain:

Next, had to start demolishing the retaining wall itself. Not an easy task. Had to dig 12” infront of the timber boards to get my shovel in there to dig all the way down to bottom 2×12. I could of went machinery route but I’m really into the DIY and some hard labor will do some good. Gots about 35-40% of the retaining wall done this Saturday. With gloves & back brace, it wasn’t too shabby.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"



6 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

11496 posts in 3188 days


#1 posted 05-17-2020 12:57 AM

Holbs, you have quite the project there, take it easy!

Cementing the blocks or construction adhesive? Also footings?

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Holbs's profile

Holbs

2304 posts in 2766 days


#2 posted 05-17-2020 01:08 AM

these will be the standard gravity based retaining wall blocks. I will have footing along this 60’ retaining wall. I forget how deep right at the moment :) I believe, limestone is best for footings. Not sure if ramming rebar in the ground for the 1st row is necessary or not. I will be chucking in 3/4” gravel into the block holes as I go along. Will also have 8”-12” 3/4” gravel behind the wall for drainage. If this was a new project, I would install GeoGrid but not able to do that here.
Now that my home security (DSC Alarm panel) is up and running and all my IP cameras (15 of them) are the same..was hoping to get back to my Roubo workbench project. Thankfully, I have the 7’ tabletop dimension’d. Was about to start routing out the end for the sliding dog hole mechanism when I had to drop everything last summer to do the security/camera thingy.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

11496 posts in 3188 days


#3 posted 05-17-2020 01:48 AM

I will look forward to seeing the Roubo come together, I live in Grass Valley so if you need a a hand help feel free to call.( bench tops are unwieldy and heavy). I built my Roubo a few years ago but I’m pretty sure I can remember what I did(mostly).

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View IRISHMIKE's profile

IRISHMIKE

6 posts in 4450 days


#4 posted 05-17-2020 03:21 PM

You know once you put in a couple courses and fill the cavities with the gravel you can pour some cement into the cavities and turn on your water hose and wash the cement down into the gravel it’ll harden and make a solid wall without having to mix the cement, just don’t put so much water that you wash the cement back out the hole do this all the way up! Good luck with your project!

View Holbs's profile

Holbs

2304 posts in 2766 days


#5 posted 05-17-2020 08:00 PM


You know once you put in a couple courses and fill the cavities with the gravel you can pour some cement into the cavities and turn on your water hose and wash the cement down into the gravel it ll harden and make a solid wall without having to mix the cement, just don t put so much water that you wash the cement back out the hole do this all the way up! Good luck with your project!

- IRISHMIKE


hmm…interesting idea. I am not sure yet how far to take “do the right thing” approach to this retaining wall, as of yet. I am excavating to give 12” behind the wall for gravel drainage and putting in french drain. What gives me pause of thought is that the timber 2×12” timber wall itself upon the 3’ and 4’ sections, has done it’s job 100% without bowing out or rotting. The only reason why I am doing this is because the 4×6 posts rotted at the base and bent over (well, 5 of the 12 did). And I know new posts would have the same issue in 10-20 years. Retaining wall blocks come in 5%-10% more spendier and do not rot.
Reno, NV is considered high semi arid desert so rainfall amounts are well under the national average (7” of rain per year and 21” of snow).
No GeoGrid, no deadmans, hard soil clay and darn rocks. I did 4 posts (almost 30’) yesterday, Saturday. Today, I think I’ll barely get 1 done cause now hitting that hard soil, all done by manual labor.
I think it’s harder soil because now I’m getting to the fence part that is 100% in the sun with no shade. You can see in picture #2, the first 30’ is covered in shade from the afternoon sun.
I am now looking up proper way to dig a trench on Youtube. I actually do not know how to do it other than using a back brace, mattock, shovel :) Maybe there is a proper safer easier way to do the manual thing

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View Holbs's profile

Holbs

2304 posts in 2766 days


#6 posted 05-17-2020 09:13 PM

Having never really needed to shovel much in my life, I have learned some tips to safely dig. Such as using knees as much as possible, hips, leverage, stance, etc. Kind of like using a hand saw :) And using the right shovel. My current shovel is your standard run of the mill round point digging shovel. Though great if soft soil, it may be too large of surface area for hard packed rocky soil. I’m going to buy a trenching shovel. Looks like I have 1’ – 1.5’ of hard packed rocky soil and then smooth sailing from there.


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Just tossing this video up for those who are in the same boat as myself :)

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

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