The Retaining Wall, II

Brooke here. One of the projects we completed while the blog was on hiatus was the retaining wall. The first part of this project was laid out in this old post.

To clarify, we’ve built two walls, but this is the post about the bigger, heavier wall. The one with a couple of enormous granite slabs set into the center as stairs. This wall needed to have drainage run through it, as there’s a lot of water moving from that side of the house to the overflow gully on the other side of the lawn. I’ll address the drainage when I write up the post about building the sidewalk.

Brown and I were able to move the rocks ourselves. We left a cleared section for the stairs to be fit into place once the majority of the wall was complete.


It’s a drystack stone wall. The granite was reclaimed from a demolished church down in Georgia. The rest of it is bits and pieces of overstock I grabbed from quarries when they had clearance sales. Some of the older pieces have toolmarks, which I adore.rockwall2

The space where we put the wall was chopped out of a part of the yard with a sharp, hard drop. For a while, we joked that there used to be a wall in that spot and the previous owners had hauled it away. But while I was digging, I kept hitting rocks…and more rocks…and even more rocks…And then I realized that there used to be an actual wall there–wait, no, there was an actual wall which was still there!–but it had gotten swallowed up by dirt over the years. So I yanked out the rocks that had formed the old wall, and built the new one in its place.

Once the new wall was in place, it was time to move the stairs. I found these granite slabs on Craigslist for a song, and paid the owner to deliver them. He showed up and emptied his pickup truck by speeding backwards as fast as he could before he slammed on the brakes. Three granite slabs flew out, hit the ground, and stayed exactly where they landed for the next four years.


Did we move the slabs into the wall ourselves? Hell no. I hired a local firefighter with a tractor to come out and move them for us.


Once the stairs were leveled and set in place, we were able to build the rest of the wall around them.


This build took place two years ago. This is what it looks like today:


There’s no landscaping in the right-hand section past the stairs. That’s the perfect spot for a frog pond (and more plants); I’ve already started to dig out the hole for the frog pond, but it’s a solid slab of rock and I’ve got to break it up in small sections. It’s been a very slow process, but at least I’ve finally found enough rocks for my other landscaping projects.

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