• Amanda Franklin

Building Raised Beds and Retaining Walls

This past spring and summer, we decided that we wanted to be able to grow our own vegetables and herbs. Originally the plan had been to build raised beds out of cedar wood, but we quickly realized that due to the slope of our backyard, that this would be challenging.


After some rough estimates and pricing everything out, we determined that we could build them out of stone. Brian fortunately convinced me to have it delivered which was probably one of the best decisions we could have made. Our rough estimate turned out to be perfect as we ended up with two extra stones after all of the building. We first put up lattice around our deck in the hopes to keep any pesky critters away (if you are wondering, no this didn't help), but that was easy enough. Brian's best friend came over and helped us and we were able to get the lattice done in just a few hours.


Stones for the Retaining Walls

Putting the stones in place was a bit more of a challenge. We drew up part of the design, but decided to just go with it. One of the things we learned was that this is much easier after it has rained as the ground is softer. However, our first part of this didn't go so easily as Brian and I dug out a good chunk of ground.



From here, we were able to come up with the right shape, and able to finish it off. We learned that if we stacked the bricks half on one another, it would provide stability.




After we finished this smaller raised bed, it decided to rain for about three months and we didn't get a chance to finish the beds until late summer when the heat and rain broke.



Where the stones are haphazardly placed is where we plan to put a little bench, but that we will save for next summer.


Finally, the last piece of the puzzle, the retaining wall. When we purchased the house, my mother-in-law suggested moving the retaining wall back. We thought this was an awesome idea, but had no idea how to do it. She showed us a bit of wall building in the front yard (which is where we learned to do the raised beds to begin with), but we weren't sure we could do it ourselves.



The retaining wall was built right outside of our slide glass door where the water spigot was which caused mud and run off. My mother-in-law pointed out that if we moved it back a bit, we would be able prevent the mud, so we decided to give it a try. We took down the top few pieces of wood, but we couldn't get out the larger pieces. Turns out the wooden retaining wall was dug into the ground with extra wood for support.


Brian determined that this would be a great use for his new lawn mower, so about thirty minutes later and a tow strap added to the wood, he started trying to pull it out.




And that's how we ended up with Brian dragging a large piece of wood through our yard...


Don't worry though, because from there we were able to build our retaining wall, and it turned out beautiful. Not bad for a Saturday morning's worth of work!




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