Skip to main content


Operation: Built-Ins

Recent posts

Great Wall project - First phase

The Great Wall project (work in progress):

Hello readers,

What you are looking at above is our current work in progress.  Although it is yet to be completed, this photo represents hundreds upon hundreds of hours worked.  While a major portion has been completed there is still so much more to come.
Grab yourself a snack and a drink, and come with us through the evolution of this project...

Great Wall project - Second phase

Second phase:
While still enjoying the extra backyard and beauty of the revealed natural stone I couldn't help but to take notice of the comments regarding access.  I had paid little attention to it, it is easy for me to climb the wall and my past experiences allowed me to be quite comfortable on it with no fear of falling.  This is not the common theme, and many people had suggested ideas on how to better access it.  Although there is currently a wooden staircase providing access, this is not a permanent solution.
During the first phase I made sure to keep aside any flat stones that I could use later as steppers.  I made the second phase be the addition of a natural look staircase.  This worked well on the side as there is no stone there, instead a steep slope to the top.
From the ground level to the highest point of our yard is a 19' difference.  The stairs that were added only took you to the middle level at first, which is about 8' off the ground.  The steppers have si…

Great Wall project - Third phase

Third phase:

Sweet mountain, am I right?:

This immediately followed the second phase, while a winter season separated phase one and two.  We had often talked about how nice it would be to remove the upper nastiness that was our yard, to dig it back and put a retaining wall up there.  Little did I know that I unintentionally started that project while working on the staircase.
It started small, innocent almost, but turned into something much larger and much more demanding.  Bit by bit I scavenged for more steppers to continue the path to the gate, many time this meant finding a portion of a stone that was exposed and pulling it out of the ground to inspect it's actual size.  Sometimes it would be a LARGE stone that would turn over soil and make it unsightly.  Up until now we had a fairly steady slope to the edge all grown over with weeds that were cut to lawn length.  There were also a handful of small ravines created by rainwater washout.  Enough about what it was, lets get to how…

Great Wall project - Fourth phase

Fourth phase:
We made some mistakes.  We decided to wait through another winter season before attempting to retain that which we just cleared out.  I don't know why, but I just believed that as difficult as that clay was to remove that it just wouldn't move that much on it's own.  Just look at how wrong I was:

We should have either kept working, or put some sort of moisture barrier up there to stop the clay from eroding down.
None of that was done, and instead I came close to losing my fence due to the erosion.  Not only that but now our cleared out work area is again filled over with clay.  Since this is not acceptable we were given the choice of digging it and throwing it uphill to where it would eventually rest behind the retaining wall, or dig it off to the side and then later throw it back over.  I wanted to toss it uphill, I really did.  Why move it twice?  Too bad it was wet and insanely sticky.  We had to move it to the side, a shovelful of that wet clay is easily …

Natural stairs

Natural look stairs

Our home is in an area where there are quite a few stones like these.  Check out the other posts to see what I mean.  I do my best to use what I have, and there was a need out front.   The slope in our front yard that leads down to the backyard and water spigot is fairly steep.   This meant that most times going down it meant picking up speed, which is fine sometimes.
You're going to have to do your best to picture this with actual grass around it.  I was too busy building a wall in back to keep up with the grass.