Oct 062008

Dozens of details keep us busy, but nothing really newsworthy…until the last week. Now we are rebuilding the slope in front of our retaining walls, and a cheerful crew of landscapers are moving large rocks into position.

Our landscape architect recommended Manuel Fernandez of Novato, and he and his guys have been busily moving dirt around, digging ditches, and delivering rocks to join the pile we already had in front of the house. It’s like watching Aztecs build a pyramid — each rock is laboriously and carefully moved by hand, fitting snugly with it’s neighbors. They’ve got a small skip loader, but it’s often used to pull on a cable to drag a rock up the steep slope. They use chains, a come-along, pry bars and brute strength to create the retaining walls.


This sequence of photos will give you an idea of the effort required. First they dig trenches where each wall is located, then place rocks with concrete as a grout in the bottom. Some careful work with a sledge hammer levels off the top of the rock to form a flat surface for the next layer. Then more rocks are hauled up, each one sized and shaped to fit roughly together and interlock. Cement from the wheelbarrow is used to anchor it all together on the back side of the rocks, so the front looks more natural.

On this side of the house, they’re building two walls, with a planting area in between, where you see the bucket.


I’ve got to show you this pic, taken last week. This is the biggest boulder, and it’s being held in place by a cable and come-along anchored to a tree on the hillside, and a chain from the Bobcat. It took a couple of hours to get this sucker up the slope.

They should have the walls constructed on both sides by the end of this week. I’ll post more photos soon.

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