How to build a retaining wall in your backyard

Retaining walls are great solutions for a sloping yard. Pools, patios and play areas all need a solid, flat surface on which to exist. With the right retaining wall design, your family can enjoy your backyard safely.

There are a few considerations before beginning a garden or landscape retaining wall design project. The type of wall you will build depends on the slope of the ground above the wall, the type of soil in your yard and how much soil will be weighing down on the wall when it is complete.

The higher the wall you plan to build, the more force will be exerted upon it by the hillside the wall is retaining. The force could become so great that it will push the hillside over the top of your wall and crush it. For these reasons, anyone needing to build a wall higher than four feet should consider hiring experts.

There are a number of different colors and styles of retaining wall stones. Before you settle on a final decision for your yard, take a drive around the neighborhood and see if there are any ideas you could see in your yard.

Most retaining walls are made from wood, natural stone or concrete. For the beginner, consider the pre-cast concrete wall stones. These stones are made with a lip on the back that locks them together without any mortar. The stones generally resist pressure from dirt and give the wall a “step back” and curved look. The biggest drawback to this design is its height. The interlocking stones are not generally recommended for walls higher than three feet. Seek professional advice about the correct materials and price estimates before beginning the project. A landscape design company will help you make the best decision for your yard and your budget.

Should you choose the inter-locking stones, there are a few items you need before leaving the landscaping store. To complete the project, you will need a shovel, tape measure, wood stake and string, level, wheel barrel, soil tamper, gravel, landscaping stones, work gloves and goggles. Be sure to ask someone at the landscaping store if you need any additional materials.

  • Begin your project by digging a trench 8″-10″ deep and 6″ wider than the block where you would like the wall to be. Fill the trench with 6″ level compacted gravel. Start laying the stones in the trench and checking each for level from side to side and front to back After the first layer is complete, begin laying your second layer of stones in a running bond pattern. If your first level was even, the second should be as well, keep checking You can use a string to ensure the stones remain level and straight. After you completed the first two levels, add drainage pipe along backside of first layer of block and cover with clean washed gravel, backfill the block (unless solid block is being used) with crushed stone 1/4″ to 1-1/2″ in size with less than 10% fines and fill behind the stones with 12″ of same crushed stone. Continue placing the stones until you have reached the desired height repeating the above steps every two layers.

Once you are finished adding levels to your wall, place landscaping fabric against the stones. This will keep the dirt from pushing through the stones and buckling the wall. Add topsoil and level off the soil along the top of the wall. From here, you can be creative and add flowers, plants or other landscaping elements.

Landscape Lighting

One of my favorite holiday activities is crowding the family into a vehicle to view the holiday lights. From the simple white lights and wreaths to the bright flashing, multi-colored bulbs and large inflatable figures, holidays are at their worst entertaining and at their best gorgeous and inspiring. Believe it or not, but here was a time when darkness fell, people went inside to the safety, warmth, and light of their homes. The fact was, it was neither inviting or practical to spend time outside. Not only could you not see where you were walking, but additionally, the environment wasn’t welcoming.

While, I doubt few people would suggest you keep your holiday lights out all year round, you can add drama and a beauty of light to your home all year round through landscape lighting. It is amazing how little light is necessary to make a huge impact on your landscape. Something as simple as a backlight with a few low voltage spotlights pointed from the base of your house up onto the home can make a huge impact. Light is a great way to highlight the beautiful aspects of your home and lawn. If you have beautiful trees, they can be backlit for a dramatic effect. If you have a wonderful door, a spotlight or gas lamps can do the trick. Additionally, lighting effects, such as a high quality park light or a lighted park bench, can create a classy, urban effect and transform your outdoor landscape into a relaxing and elegant atmosphere.

Directional path lighting spaced from eight to ten feet apart on alternate sides of a walkway can illuminate and is not just practical, but beautiful as well. While there is little doubt that landscape lighting can be beautiful, it also has more practical uses. For one, the addition of light to your lawn and walkways makes them more safe to walk. Using low voltage spotlights or directional path lighting, you can ensure that family and visitors alike can safely walk to your doorstep without turning an ankle or tripping over obstacles hidden by darkness. From a safety standpoint, landscape lighting also discourage intruders. After all, darkness only offers opportunities for potential predators to sneak up unseen to your home. Adding light makes sure anyone who approaches your house can do so in full view. Motion detection lights are a great way to protect against anyone with less than pure motives as they approach your home by illuminating when they sense motion. Motion lights are also a green solution because they ensure that lights don’t need to be on for a prolonged period of time, only when you need them to be on. The Cambridge Garden Design lighting experts,can transform your lawn into a beautiful, well-lit spectacle. You can get all of your garden needs met as well as custom and manufactured water features, sprinkler systems, stonework, decks and patios, and lighting from Cambridge Garden Design. Get a free quote, quality service, and competitive prices.

Helpful tips to winterize your Lawn

Keeping up with the seasonal changes and how they effect your lawn is one of the most challenging parts of being a homeowner. However, the preparation and upkeep during the winter months are one of the integral aspects in the health of your lawn. While grass is dormant during the winter, preparation during the fall months make a big difference in how your grass will look come spring. By following a few simple tips, your lawn can remain healthy through the winter and be vibrant as it enters the spring months.

The first step needs to take place in early fall, and that is to reseed and fertilize. A thorough reseed and fertilization early in the fall not only fills in patches left as warm weather weeds die off and leave bare on your lawn, but it also insures that as spring comes, that weeds won’t come back and take hold in the bare spots they vacated. By fertilizing, you can do wonders for the underground health of your grass as it develops and strengthens the root system which is essential for a lush lawn.

Next, make sure that all debris and leaves are raked off of the lawn and garden areas. It is essential to keep your lawn and garden free of junk, which cut off air and can be a place for pests to hide. Additionally, if you have snow during the winter, leaves left on your lawn will cause drying and make it prone to mold and disease.

For some lawns, particularly those which receive a lot of foot traffic, aeration can be helpful. Grass takes a beating during the summer months with foot traffic and gardening, and compaction can be a huge problem. Compaction compresses the natural spaces in the soil where oxygen invigorates the roots and deprives the roots of their full metabolic process. Aeration helps to overcome compaction by providing oxygen to the roots of the grass. A simple punch-core aerator can do the trick and open up spaces within the soil.

Before the harsh winter and snow, it is a good idea to mow your lawn one last time, but to adjust your mower to get a particularly close cut. A good rule of thumb is to cut down the grass to about one inch in length. Finally, in late October, a second feeding and fertilization is the last step necessary to keep your lawn strong through the winter. However, this depends on where you live as fertilizing too late in the season can cause the grass to continue to grow and can leave it susceptible to frost damage.