Kyle and I just returned from our inaugural camping trip as a couple to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. I’d love to tell you about that experience – it was memorable for all kinds of reasons. And I’d love to recount my visit with family and friends in Michigan during which I met my nephew Reuben, celebrated my parents’ 40th Wedding Anniversary with a renewal of their vows, and attended my college friend, Oven’s, wedding, but those tales will all have to wait. What I really need to catch you up on is our retaining wall project.
We had high hopes of finishing all kinds of projects in our yard this summer. Three to be exact: building a retaining wall along the side of our fence, putting in a patio so we can have an outdoor dining area, and putting up a shed. It’s important to dream big, right? All we finished (well, sort of finished) was the retaining wall.
Kyle’s brother, Tyler, has been in town this summer in between semesters of Dental School. In fact, he’ll be in Seattle for the next two years, which we’re really excited about so we can hang out with him and his girlfriend Jess who is starting a Dental Hygiene program in Seattle in the fall. Tyler was looking for work for the summer and is a good, hard worker, so we hired him on to help with our retaining wall.
Here’s what it looked like before we started:
Tyler did all of the prep work for the wall which started with digging out the grass and weeds and making a nice long trench.
That first day, we also got a couple of yards of gravel delivered.
Tyler singlehandedly shoveled most of the gravel from the driveway up to the wheelbarrow (which was up the steps from the driveway), and wheeled it to the backyard.
Look at that positive attitude! 🙂
That’s SUPER HARD WORK!
Kyle was able to come home fairly early each day so he could help, too. He couldn’t have been that productive at work with all the phone calls and questions we bothered him with throughout the day anyway. 🙂
Most of the project was completed with good ol’ fashioned shovels, and man-powered tools, but Kyle’s dad let us borrow his “Jumping Jack” compactor. It was a bear to lift up our steps to get it into the backyard, and it was a bear start. Once Tyler got it up and running, it continued to be fickle and every once in awhile would seem to take off on a shot, making it really difficult to control. You should have heard Tyler’s yell of surprise everytime it took off like it did here:
On the second day, I joined in and helped with some general stuff in the yard. We knew we’d have to do a dump run or two, so I took advantage of that and took out a bunch of weeds and huge portions of plants we didn’t want. Tyler worked on digging out the tougher stumps and random rocks placed throughout our yard and continued working on the wall itself. We got our delivery of three palates of retaining wall stones that day. I’m very proud to report that I singlehandedly moved one and a half palates of the stone from the driveway to the backyard. Here’s my victory photo from when I emptied the first palate:
Once that bottom layer of stone is down, things move pretty quickly. So, by the end of day two, things were looking pretty good!
Kyle’s parents (and their dog, Shelby) came over for dinner that night to check out the progress. Everyone pitched in a little bit, and we, of course, rewarded our hard work with delicious carne asada tacos and Bonbon S’Mores. Ah…the satisfaction of standing on your own work. 🙂
With considerably less hours on the third day, the wall was done.
Now, we just have to figure out what we want to plant in it!! (Hence, the “almost done” feeling.) At this point, we’ll probably just wait until next year to do the planting, but plan to at least put down some mulch so it’s not covered in weeds by that time. Let us know if you have any suggestions for what to plant! There’s really nice full sun up by the garden beds, and about three-quarters of the way to back of the yard, it becomes shadier.
Thanks Tyler, for all your hard work. We definitely couldn’t have accomplished this without you.