January 29, 2016

Preparing your Backyard for Retaining Wall Construction

Preparing your Site for Construction


Our backyard is very small and we needed to deal with several challenges in site preparation before starting construction.  We did not have easy access for equipment without involving my neighbor’s yard.  I talked to them and explained the magnitude of the project and they were happy to help out.  We decided to use the space between the two houses.  It was just big enough for a large skid steer to maneuver through but without this access it would have meant all hand labor. 

Allan Block has a great resource page for helping you ask the right question when getting started with your site preparation.  I used these helpful points to help me evaluate my site for property lines and utility locations and even how to discuss the project with my neighbors. 

Site Demolition


The entire slope where the walls were going was covered with overgrown brush, 4 large trees, old landscape timber edging and an old chain link fence.  Before any excavation could begin the site needed to be cleared.  Planning ahead for the demolition ultimately saved time and money.  I planned on removing the brush, the fence and the timbers myself, but not the trees.  So I contracted with a tree remover to take the trees down and haul the brush away.  I had all the brush piled in the front yard so the day the tree remover came it was ready to go.  What he and his crew did in 3 hours, I may still be working on.


The next things to go were all the stumps.  The machine this guy brought was a 4-wheel drive stump eating monster!  In less than three hours, 4 large stumps and about 75 small ones were chewed up into chips.  The end result was a clean canvas to start excavating.


Now that the hill was clear it was time to excavate.  The rented skid steer was delivered the next day and construction began.