Our yard had a huge hill in the back so we decided to excavate out a good portion of the dirt. Thankfully the lot next to us was still vacant so Travis took down the fence inbetween our properties and we brought in some heavy machinery to get the dirt out.
This is the before picture and a picture of are our child laborers, Landon, Dayton and Reece with their buckets putting rocks behind the wall for strength.
Next came the tractors to clear out the dirt. The boys loved watching the tractors and the other picture is how much dirt we put in the lot next door. Travis got permission from the builder
(DR Horton) to dump "some" dirt there. When they saw how much we were putting there they were a bit surprised and said they thought we meant a few bucketfuls. Oops! Actually they were cool about it and our dirt was "good" dirt and the builder used it on other houses in the neighborhood which was great for us. That way we saved a few thousand dollars because we didn't have to haul it away. The dirt hill was the entertainment for the boys and neighborhod kids for the 1st half of the summer before they hauled it away.
We ended up getting 5 dumptruck loads full of rock that went inside the retaining wall blocks and behind the wall to give it strength. It was pretty nuts. Everytime I saw a dumptruck pull up and back up I just thought $cha-ching$ in my mind. This is the first (and hopefully only) retaining wall Travis has built and, like everything, he researched it and probably went above and beyond to make sure it was what we wanted.
Below the first retaining wall we decided to build a bench and a firepit sucken down. Before building the firepit Travis ran a gas line underground and up through where the pit is in case we decide later we want a gas fire. For now we love having woodburning. It fits our lifestyle better with wanting to roast marshmellows, do dutch oven and just has more of the campfire feel. Above the bench we planted an Autumn Blaze maple tree and we will add other plantings soon. Hopefully a few before winter and then more next spring. We decided to use the same retaining blocks for the firepit and bench to have a coordinated look throughout the yard. Here are the during and after pics of the firepit area.
You can see Travis in the distance standing on empty pallets building the wall. It's hard to tell in the picture how massive this wall is but the fact that he had to stand on pallets and lift the blocks over his head helps you get an idea of how big it was. Not to mention how long it was. I took this picture from a window in our house and I still couldn't get the whole wall in the picture. Travis is such a workaholic I can't keep up. He planned to take a Thursday and Friday off to build the wall in three days (crazy) because he didn't want to miss too much work. However, the excavators actually dug up a power line with their tractor because it wasn't marked correctly by the utility company and it took a whole day to get that fixed so that left Travis with only two days. He got up first thing in the morning (well before normal morning time) and worked well into the night with his little head lamp light. He got it done. He is insane. In front of the top retaining wall we planted lilac bushes so hopefully those will grow and look good for next summer and on the far right of the wall (it's hard to see in the picture) we have a four tiered vegetable garden. The wall steps down and as it steps Travis put in wood beams to make a big box (4 of them) for our garden. It has it's own irrigation system which should help with watering. Just behind the first retaining wall we planted forsythia bushes which will hopefully grow and become a "hedge" to help with safety so kids don't fall of the wall.
So in a nutshell, that is what the Jensen's did last summer!