Concrete Block Retaining Wall; August Involved Sweating

It’s done enough.

At Move-In vs. Current:

So the cap blocks aren’t actually done yet. I just set them on top. They need cut so they don’t have those gaps on the face. We’ll see when it happens. And sorry the angle’s off. Never took a before-photo of that corner — probably because the telephone pole is in the way.

Okay so then here are a bunch of “during” photos.

Pre-groundbreaking (post-jungle):

Trench, dug (although once blocks started going down, a lot more digging commenced):

A literal ton of bricks (one of four):

The base course:

Second course, with some back-fill:

82 lbs. (the black plastic pins line the courses up at a 3/4-inch offset — they don’t really hold anything together):

Current view, other corner:

So there’s that.

Some notes I guess:

  • August was a humid month and warm.
  • Props out to Pratyush for helping me dig that one day.
  • I’ll put some sort of plants in that flat area behind the top of the wall. In the spring.
  • I underestimated how much backfill gravel I would need by about 75%. It’s not hard to acquire, but it’s also not all that easy to transport and then that one day when I asked the Home Depot cashier if she could get someone to help me haul 20 bags of it to my truck and load it and she called up some deaf senior citizen to do it and then I was like, trying to get him to stop, because, you know, wasn’t the strongest guy or the fastest moving and here, let me do that for you for me
  • I guess I’ll put rocks between the wall and the street. Gravel, the sort of roundish kind.
  • The wall uses Versa-Lok blocks; the color/style/pattern is called “Saratoga”.
  • Trying to get the first course level was also the worst thing ever.
  • Once the first course is done, it goes relatively fast, except that I ended up having to do more digging and leveling to extend the wall at the ends, so, you know. After the base course, probably 3-4 hours a course after that.
  • Overall, the project was simple, just a lot of work. OTOH, I think I lost weight in August. I should market this as a P90x competitor. Should have taken before-after photos of myself…
  • Progress on the project was often slowed by an older person walking or driving by and wanting to talk for an hour about my wall, their walls, other people’s walls that may have existed, shovels, the weight of concrete, etc. The last 58 minutes of these conversations were generally pretty dull.
  • My neighbor across the street helpfully donated four buckets of concrete from a concrete tub he’d taken out of his basement. Apparently he thought it would be easier for me to spend an hour crushing concrete against, I don’t know what, my driveway? in order to use it as backfill than it would be for me to go to the Home Depot and buy another bag of drainage rock for $3.28. I need to always only ever tell people “no”.
  • My neighbor across the other street has asked twice now whether I’m going to run the wall up the remaining 40 feet of the side yard, because, you know, that would look good.
  • Older blue-collar white people are well-meaning, but that doesn’t always carry a lot of weight — you know, the road to hell and so forth.

In conclusion, the retaining wall represents another project at the house that’s 95% done, but not 100. I remain consistent.