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Retaining Wall on Property Line

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Our goal was to stabilize the loose, rocky soil between our yard (upper) and our neighbor’s (the lower) with a The trick was also to preserve the English laurel trees (Prunus laurocerasus) that were growing exactly on the property line.
Difficulty: Medium
Build entirely in front of the trees and the much higher level of dirt would probably kill them. Ditto for building behind—we’d sever too many roots.
Our solution was to straddle them with a high/low bump-out wall. We consulted with our neighbor, who agreed to the plan and allowed us to work from her property.
Here are more nature accommodation ideas: http://goo.gl/SNka7m
This was our first-ever DIY retaining wall project. We knew getting the first course leveled on a bed of ¾-minus gravel is critical.
Altogether, we installed over 13 tons of really nice block for a 3-foot-high wall about 65 feet long. It took weeks part-time. Pro estimates ranged from $8,000 to $12,000. We did it ourselves for about $4,000 including gravel and a rented wet saw for cutting blocks.
We left a 6-inch gap behind the blocks and filled that with pea gravel for drainage. Here's Deb adding gravel.
Slight miscalculation here. With the wall mostly built, I decided to cut the blocks around one of the trees rather than remove one of the trunks.

To see more: http://goo.gl/4gMLL9

Ask the creator about this project

  • Christina
    Christina Chicago, IL
    on May 7, 2015

    Absolutely gorgeous. What a great combination of practicality and aesthetics.

  • Carole
    Carole Longview, WA
    on May 7, 2015

    Beautiful project...and...your neighbors got the benefit of that beautiful finished wall....lucky them! We did a huge retaining wall last summer, 7 ft high in places and about 85 ft long, so I can really appreciate all the work that went into this project. Well done!

  • Charlotte Kent
    Charlotte Kent Tremont, MS
    on May 14, 2015

    So glad you saved the trees, and in such a beautiful way. Your neighbor certainly reaped the rewards of your work!

  • Tegma
    Tegma Lake City, PA
    on May 14, 2015

    Love it, but as the trees grow, won't they do damage to the retainer wall?

  • Ethel Schuler
    Ethel Schuler Stroudsburg, PA
    on May 14, 2015

    What do you do when the tree grows bigger roots and trunk?

    • John Riha
      John Riha Ashland, OR
      on May 14, 2015

      @Ethel Schuler Hi Ethel-- English laurels are basically big shrubs -- their trunks won't intrude on the lower or upper wall (I might have to make that notch bigger, tho!) They withstand vigorous pruning and I'm not going to let them get too much bigger.

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