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Old 08-11-2009, 12:24 PM   #1
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retaining wall in progress

just wanted to share some in progress photos of the retaining wall i've been working on.
this is my first time ever having attempted stone work.
it started off very rough indeed; i was completely frustrated and on the verge of tears every day for awhile.

i'd get just enough of a tiny little taste of success here and there to fuel on me on a little further. then, i really broke through it all - feeling confident in my ability to basically tool anything to fit anywhere.

this is "great meadow limestone," and every single stone you see here has been chiseled for a tight fit. i was very clear with my vision from the start what i wanted this to look like - nice and tight, no chinks or shims visible anywhere on the face, and some sort of "movement" or "flow" in the wall.

i'm starting to run very low on the thick wall stuff, and now am left with about 3 tons of thin wall stuff. today is a frustrating day so i'm taking a break to share this with you all.

here's a bunch of pictures.


figuring out layout with the hose (it changed from this slightly)

das trench, about 10-12" deep.

nearly full with 3/4" crushed stone.

a random section of base. i'm regretting the hell out of throwing in that goofy one on edge like that. structurally i'm not worried about it, but basically it looks stupid and it's hard trying to work stones around it.
i wanted it to create movement, but i didn't realize how easy it was to create some flow without doing something that extreme... ah well...

here's where i was about a week ago.

this is from a few days ago. i've since added a lot tot he left and basically it just needs the capstones, which are off to the side.

the cap there needs a little tuning to sit it down a bit tighter. it's dead nuts level r ight there.

i'm really pretty pleased with the work so far, although it's been the most difficult and frustrating thing i've ever done, for sure.

a panorama of the scene. this is still from a few days ago.

i'm about 17 days into this so far (not counting all the trenching work).
i can't say i've managed to lay more than 8 stones in one day yet. i've found about 8 stones and backwalling them is a fantastic day for me. it may not sound like alot, but with all the chiseling i'm doing i think it's pretty good.

nice trow and holden chisels. a friend suggested these. i'd be in big trouble without them. have barely used the brick hammer at all. it comes in handy for tapping in little backwall shards.

thanks for reading and looking, everyone. hope you enjoy.



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Old 08-11-2009, 12:34 PM   #2
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Looks nice so far
I've yet to build a wall or anything
I've just used the wall blocks so far


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Old 08-11-2009, 02:12 PM   #3
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Wow Schmolze, that's a huge project. It sure does look nice, like it's being done by a professional.

You're going to put one on the other side of the driveway too, right? Just kidding.
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Old 08-11-2009, 02:48 PM   #4
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Looks great Ben. Are you going to put in drain tile behind it?
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Old 08-11-2009, 03:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by 47_47 View Post
Looks great Ben. Are you going to put in drain tile behind it?
thanks guys,
not sure what drain tile is,
but basically there will be a 10-12" wide swath of 3/4" crushed stone behind the wall, and almost as high as the wall.
since it's sitting on so much gravel, and with this gravel in back, i'm not too worried about drainage... (hope not, at least.)

thanks again for the compliments.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:06 AM   #6
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The wall sure looks nice!

Drain tile is perforated plastic pipe that collects the water in the wall's backfill at the footing level and protects it from heaving. Very important stuff. Without it the water will accumulate in the soil behind your wall and underneath it and it will often have issues with movement....Sometimes really bad, sometimes barely noticeable.

Drain tile is typically installed with filter fabric. The filter fabric allows ground water to leech into the gravel backfill without allowing soil/sediment through the back side of the wall.

If you haven't backfilled yet I'd strongly recommend both.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:11 AM   #7
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looks great!
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:33 PM   #8
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scmolze, as a maon, All I can say is.......

That looks wonderful!

It takes alot more work (& patience, perserverance, etc..) than anyone can imagine to lay a drystack stone wall. I personally don't have the patience to do drystack since I'm accustomed to a mortar installation, but I can still appreciate the time it takes to fit the stone as you have. Your creativity is also evident, which can take any GOOD stone job to a GREAT stone job. I have a cousin who runs a landscape co. These kind of drystack stone walls are his specialty, & I can assure you he would be proud to put his name on a job like this. The only difference is that he saws litterally every stone, usually several times, to get the perfect fit. Chiseling stone can be very tedius, but at the same time, is a lost art.

As for the draintile, I would have no fear, as it appears the gravel backfill your using is actually a clear draining stone. Any moisture should effectively weep thru the joints in the stone.

Congratulations on a gorgious job!
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Old 08-15-2009, 07:39 AM   #9
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hey jomama,
thanks so much for the compliments. it means a lot and gives me some confidence and inspiration to proceed.

i've ordered two more pallets of the "thick wall" stuff and will resume in about two weeks with more photos for all of you.

yesterday i put in the steps, which are great.

thanks again!
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Old 08-23-2009, 08:50 AM   #10
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Job looks awesome!!! Must make you feel great seeing that progress.

I would say though, check into that drainage!!! PUtting the fabric and drain tile might save you a headache down the road!! It is relatively inexpensive. I am having problems with my retaining wall right now. My contractor did not put any drainage in and the gravel has started washing out. Its a big mess, but anyways just thought you might be interested especially with that big hill you are retaining.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:41 PM   #11
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thanks again everyone.
here are a few more shots of the progress, as of today:

my tenant did me the honor of carving me this stone with my initials and the date. she designed both. i love it.

at this point it's too late to put in perf pipe, but i've been assured by several masons that i shouldn't have a problem with the enormous base of gravel i have, and the gravel behind the 30-36" base of wall i have.
here's hoping at least. i would certainly cry like a schoolgirl if this thing fell apart.



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