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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 6/7/2020

And now for something completely different....

Back in April I found myself on the horns of a dilemma....I had absolutely no idea what to get my mother for her birthday.  I mean absolutely none....I was completely stumped.  Then I remembered that my mother kinda had been asking for a big flower bed outside her apartment door and so on her birthday I told her that I would be giving her her long awaited flower bed.  I think she was a.) surprised and b.) thrilled......I'm sure she had more or less forgotten about it.

And therefore I resolved to in fact get this thing going!

I had to start collecting retaining wall brick, and discussions with my mother hammered out some of the particulars.  She wanted it up against the house basically from the edge of the patio door up towards the house corner.  There's a slope going uphill that direction and didn't want it to be "geometric"...she wanted it a bit "flowing".  We laid out some lines and talked about where she wanted the bed, how deep it would be, etc., and then I started getting brick.

I had discovered that I could get between 10 and 15 of the retaining wall bricks I had in mind (smaller ones than most retaining walls, well sized for something like this) on a single trip with the truck, and after some thought she decided she wanted the light gray stones rather than the tan or reddish ones.  I liked that myself because that closely matches Tanglewood's color itself which of course made ME happy too.  I quick zeroed in a particular style carried at Lowes, and checked several to make sure they all had that particular stone and that it wasn't just a single store's oddball special (because if it was there was zero doubt they would run out before I got enough).  

Estimating exactly how many I would need was a bit of a trick, since the bed would be somewhat irregular and I would no doubt discover various obstacles along the way.  After I had amassed a good 60, however, I figured that was enough to get started.  I knew I'd have to get more as the bed was getting closer to completion but 60 as enough to get a good feel, and so I got started this morning.

It was an amazing amount of work, no doubt about it.  It seemed the trench was always not quite level, and I took bucket after bucket of dirt out of the area (it was dispersed into some smaller areas nearby where it was badly needed).  The "deepest" part of the bed turned out to be the area right by the patio door, where the shallowest looked to be the section uphill towards the house corner.  In the end I used a half dozen of the buckets of gravel I'd obtained during May while I was collecting a critical mass of the retaining wall stone, and I had the rough outlines sketched in enough that I would start laying out brick.

What I have so far is below.  I can already tell I'll need more retaining wall brick so I'll bring up a couple more loads during the week in preparation for the weekend when I get work on everything again.  My mother seems quite happy so far and she generally likes the shape....she'll be walking around it getting a better feel during the course of the week, so I can make some adjustments if necessary of course.

Still, it's a first step!  

Steven in Colorado


A view from the "upper slop" of the hill near the house corner. You can see the large amount of gravel I needed to lay in there to build a proper base for the wall.
A shot from the "side", as it were. Note that she's still not sure she wants the entire wall to be one height or stepped.
And another shot, this time more or less from the patio looking uphill.

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Posted by rick on 8/5/2020

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