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gruntman 09-07-2009 11:25 AM

Do I need a wall?
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My backyard is sloped and the previous owner piled rocks and construction debris against the wooden fence in the back. As a result, the fence is rotted on the bottom and bowed out in some places. I removed the dirt and rock and now I am left with the question of what to do with the yard. As you can see from the picture - behind the fence are boulders and a hill.

My plan is to put in a deck where the patio now exists, and then to level the rest as much as possible to give my kids a place to play. A previous owner built a wooden retaining wall in order to provide a place for a swing

So I could use some advice...
1) do I build a wall? if so, can the wall be built out of timbers just as was done before?
2) Could I not build a wall but instead add dirt to the yard and level it as much as pssible with out the wall. The only problem I see with this idea is that I dont want a landslide on the houses below me.
3) The wall that is there right now is in front of the existing wooden fence. This is a reall problem because debris is getting trapped between the wall and the fence - If I do build a wall should I then place the fence on top of the wall?

Im looking for any ideas - Thanks

Scuba_Dave 09-07-2009 04:31 PM

I'd build a wall to level the yard as much as possible - maybe 4' high?
Then depending upon what your view will be I'd put black chain link fence on top of the wall
It will make the back yard look much bigger

gruntman 09-07-2009 06:24 PM

Would you build it out of brick or timbers and is this a DIY job?

Scuba_Dave 09-07-2009 06:42 PM

With the wooded area I would use timbers
Yes - for me I'd DIY

TooledUp 09-09-2009 08:53 AM

I think you could use boulder to build a natural wall and then level the yard. Then you can easily put the chain link fen in on top of the boulders. I did think your yard was too bad though--there appeared to still be good area for the kids to play--maybe a little slope, but I think I would just build the patio and try and get some good grass growing in there. They have the playset which is nice and level and then they could have the rest to play ball or whatever.

gruntman 09-12-2009 07:58 AM

Thanks - these are good suggestions.

I had a fence guy come by yesterday - he didnt think it was worth replacing the entire back fence. He suggested that I secure pressure treated 2x10s to the bottom of the fence posts in the back and just move the dirt up to the wood. The bottom of fence would not be covered with dirt so I would not get more rot, but I wouldnt have a drop off at the edge of the yard. Ever heard of that?

Scuba_Dave 09-12-2009 10:22 AM

I doubt that fence will hold that amount of dirt back :no:

d.sharkey 09-21-2009 01:01 PM

As Scuba said, bad idea, in my opinion its only temporary fix. Also, will it solve the problem of previous fence rot? What will that rot do, solve itself? Sorry, hate contractors that go the cheapest/easiest route. Do you live in an area with lots of rain/snow that could cause more erosion? Is the fence on the property line? Rock or block, when done right last the longest.

Hurriken 09-22-2009 10:56 AM

You have to keep the dirt off of the wood/fence. In areas where dirt is allowed to touch the fence will rot faster.

In your case, I really like your yard, I would build a stone or rock wall between the patio and the play area following the natural line in the fourth picture and blend it into the area in the foreground. I would use that to level the area near the patio. Then Build a timber wall around the fence line and level the rest. The fence would have to be redone. build it on top of the wall. I don't think you nee billiard table flat, I like the natural look better. Make sure you add a gravel base if you live where the ground freezes.

This is a lot of work though.

gruntman 09-25-2009 12:29 PM

Thanks for the suggestions - Im fine with a sloping yard but I just want to take out the bumps so my kids dont trip. I had been thinking of just adding dirt but I have been told that I will just lose it all down the hill - even if i do bury a pipe for my rainwater.

Yes - Im in Boston so I get a ton of ice and snow. The person before me buried the lower part of the fence in rock and dirt to hold back some dirt - so it rotted the bottom of my fence - but the rest is in decent shape.

So it sounds like the consensus is a wall of some kind - stone will last longer than wood. If I build the wall where the fence is it will be more of a project because I will have to remove the fence, build a wall, and then put back a new fence, vs. build a wall in front of the fence and deal with a shorter fence. The first way is probably the best - is the other way a bad idea?

Hurriken 09-25-2009 01:18 PM

It's a small world, My mother is from Newton. My uncle is/was offensive line coach at the high school but he may have retired now.

I have rethought my last answer. How much property is your outside the fence line or did they build the fence up to the property line? I was just looking at your pictures again. It isn't a straightforward situation. You seem to be on top of a hill. You can't, of course, wall up the whole hill and it may prove difficult to build a wall on that slope. I can see the area is rocky and that tree that splits the fence is going to be tough to deal with (digging) and may get in the way. One good sign, the trees are not drifting down the hill or even sloping.

The first thing I would do is check out your neighbors, find out how they dealt with it...or didn't deal with it. What you may be able to do is remove the back of the fence and get someone with a Bobcat to "flattop" the yard from the hill edge up to the first slope (inside the yard)but be careful not to screw up your drainage. Then you get your flat smooth top and you rebuild the fence and be done with it a lot cheaper and easier. Then you can spend your money on grass seed!:whistling2:

Your lucky actually, that area of Boston is really nice.

gruntman 09-30-2009 03:30 PM

Thanks - this place needs some work but Im slowly making my way down the list.
My neighbors yards are both higher than mine. One side they are just higher up the hill and the other side just put in more dirt (no walls).

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