As with all projects, making a mess is the easy bit. Then you've got to clean it up. In the case of our backyard, we needed to build retaining walls to keep the different levels of dirt in place.
When the earthworks fellow cut the ground for where the shed slab will go, we obviously had a lot of dirt left over. Some of this was rubbish, but a lot of it was good gardening (I think) soil. We asked him to dump all of that good stuff up along the fence line so we could create a raised garden bed.
We decided on treated pine sleepers as our retaining material. Anything else was just too expensive. These we got from the local landscape suppliers, and the hardwood stakes we got from Bunnings. Once everything was level, Dan screwed all of the sleepers to the stakes.
The picture below is of what would become the entry to the space behind the shed. This part, I can honestly say, we made up as we went. There was a lot of thinking and rethinking, but the plan only emerged once we started hacking at it with a shovel.
We had a very special helper on the day. We were dog sitting "Princess" Jasmine. She wasn't much of princess that day though, she got down and dirty with the rest of us.
Dan's drop saw was our best friend. Without one, I'm not sure how this could be done. Being able to do straight and mitred cuts on the same machine with very little effort at all was great.
Here's a shot of a finished corner. To be honest, we weren't all that worried about perfection. We wanted, and still want the garden to have a lived in, well thought out, handmade aesthetic. We'd like to think we're good enough to make the most perfectly straight retaining wall, but we're not really. We wanted it to look good, do it's job, and if it wasn't absolutely 100% perfect, we were ok with that.
Jazz was ok with whatever included dirt. Needless to say I gave her the world's biggest doggy bath in hope that we'd be able to hand her back clean and white at the end of it! Think I got most of the dirt out... Talk about a happy pup!
Half way through our week of retaining, the cement guys poured our slab. It definitely made a difference for us when working. It's one thing to know the proportions in your head, but it is so nice to see them down.
The bottom retaining wall was the hardest. We had to cut away some dirt by hand that the earthworks guy hadn't managed to get quite straight. Our Jacaranda tree had a root chopped off (it's fine though!) so that we could at least aim for a reasonably straight wall.
The back corner was taking shape. We'd worked out how to run the ramp so as to fit our trailer behind the shed. A lot of the retaining wall up top is to help with the overland flow of water that we do struggle with in the back corner of the yard.
There was a lot of soil to back fill behind these walls. When you're looking at this unrelenting red ochre of the soil for hours on end, you think, there is no way we will need to buy any top soil. Surely in amongst all of this, we have enough! We only just made it.
We needed extra help to keep the dirt back in this front section. Because of the lay of the land, keeping things level meant we had a bit of a gap under the front sleeper. We used black gardening plastic as a barrier to hold the dirt on the righthand side, so when we decide upon a road base for the carport area, we can back fill on the left.
We're extremely happy with the end result. We'd never built a retaining wall before, we just knew the basic principals having watched both sets of parents build their share. It will be great when we plant the garden, when the grass grows back, and when the shed goes up. Lots to look forward to!