We finally finished the stupid retaining wall!

Razorette and I have been laboring through one of the hottest summers on record to finish a retaining wall, steps and other landscaping in front of our house. We moved in 2 years ago; the land is part of the farm she grew up on. This summer we built a patio, arbor, retaining wall and stone steps, replaced the front sidewalk (put a temporary one in two years ago) and FINALLY finished the front porch. We’re so damn proud! You can see Before & After photos here (scroll down a bit and click on the “Slide show” for a better look at the photos.) Before was taken just before Christmas last year. If it looks a little odd, it’s because I used it to test some new photo editing software, went and saved it, so it’s the only photo of the place we have prior to the work we did. Obviously, lots left to do – the lower yard is nothing but weeds, but with a little work and lots of patience, it’ll become prairie grass.

We’re takin’ the rest of the summer off!

Nice job, it looks like a completely different house. Feel free to lend your expertise (and back muscles) to my landscaping anytime. :wink:

You have a wall that retains stupidity? Get me one o’ those!

Actually, last night I worked on the “stupid toilet.” It flushes stupidity. Wouldn’t you rather have one of those?

Judging from the picture it looks like you used Castleblock. Did you make the retaining wall mortarless or did you mortar it?

It’s Pavestone, um, Windsor, I believe. No morter, but we did use contractor’s adhesive on some end blocks. The photo shows only the center section of an 80-foot wall, and out toward the end, it starts to step down. Those last blocks are glued down; everything else is held in place by dynamic tension (that’s my phrase for it.)

:smack: Make that “no mortar.”

How heavy were the pavestone blocks? From the picture it looks like you made steps, did you use the adhesive on those? Reason I ask is that I need to make some myself and an alternative that doesn’t require mortar and bricklaying skill would do me some good.

Gosh, now I wish I’d taken some “in progress” photos.

What you don’t see with the steps is that I used paving tiles (16X16") for the treads and Pavestone blocks for the risers. You basically build a two-course wall with the blocks, then fill in behind that, tamping it firmly, leaving enough of a void to accept the paving tiles. The Pavestone blocks have a lip on the bottom of the rear edge that hooks over the block below it; hook this lip over the back of the paving tile to start the next riser. Once you get everything packed in tightly and finely sifted sand to fill between the paving tiles, it holds together without mortar or adhesive.

The trick to ALL of this is a foundation course of blocks that is dead level and even both ways.

If you want, e-mail me and I’ll send you better photos and .pdf drawings I made to guide myself in building the stairs.

A year or so ago I had a brochure that showed detailed instructions on building walls and stairs, but I’ve lost it. I tried going to Pavestone’s website but there’s nothing on building steps there. We got the blocks and pavers at Home Depot, if that’s any help.

Yeah, my email address is public. I like to see what you did, partly to get ideas for my project and just to see what did. The steps I want to build are to the parking area in the rear of my property. Currently, I have some wooden steps that I want to replace. Underneath the steps is cement. Are the pavestones that you used the 30 pound ones? Did you use sand or stone dust?

** and just to see you did out for my own curiousity** I have a tendency to research the hell out of a project before I undertake it or hire someone else to do it.

My husband talks occasionally about putting a retaining wall along one side of our driveway. There’s just a slope there now, but it’s a pain in the patootie to mow. The downside I see, besides lots of labor, is the cost of 75’ long or so, 18" high, plus some fill. So I figure we’ll never have one.

Mundane, pointless, and shared.

PS - you do good work!

Looks good.

I know how much work it can be. I built one to protect our driveway from sliding mud and dirt about 8 years ago. 100-6"x6"x8’ pressure treated timbers. One of the most labor intense things I have ever done.

Very nice! Looks faaaaabulous!!! as a certain bear would say.