Posts Tagged With: yard updates

Summer Garden Update #1 – Build a Retaining Wall

How to Build a Retaining WallIf you want to correct a sloping lawn or add some interest to your landscape, then a retaining wall may be just the ticket. By using concrete blocks with interlocking flanges, this DIY project is something you can tackle in a weekend and enjoy for years to come.

Designing Your Wall for Your Lifestyle

Determine where you want the wall to go and mark the area with stakes and twine. For a free form, less structured shape, use landscaping paint to define the outline of the wall. Here’s a chance to show your creative side – after checking your local building codes of course. Any wall higher than four feet may require a structural engineer to help with it. Also, be sure to check with homeowner’s associations or other neighborhood governing organizations for restrictions before starting construction.

What You Will Need

In addition to concrete blocks, you will need a list of materials. Many are heavy, so you may want to arrange a delivery. No use wearing yourself out before you lay the first brick!

  • Paver base material – usually a mixture of gravel and crushed limestone
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Level – preferably 2 feet or longer
  • Rubber mallet
  • Construction adhesive
  • Perforated drain pipe
  • Hand or gas powered tamper
  • Landscape rake
  • Shovel

A Good Foundation Makes all the Difference

A firm foundation sets up how secure the wall will be as you build it up. Checking to see that the blocks are level and that you have adequate drainage during the building process is vital. These two steps will help stabilize the wall and keep it from cracking or bowing outward.

Time to Get Dirty

Now that you have all of your materials, let’s roll up those sleeves and get to work.

  • ExcavateDig a trench twice the width of the blocks and deep enough to bury the first level of blocks halfway.
  • Ensure a level base – Add paver base to the trench and spread it evenly.
  • Compact the base – With a tamper compact the base material.
  • Level the base – Use a board to help level the base material. Check with the torpedo level.
  • Lay the base blocks – Remove the interlocking flange from the blocks on the bottom row. Check to see if blocks are level and use mallet to help adjust blocks.
  • Fill in around base – Add soil around the front of the blocks and tamp down to provide support.
  • Provide proper drainage – Place a perforated drain pipe at the bottom of the wall, cover with landscaping fabric, and fill around with gravel.
  • Continue stacking blocks – Stagger the joints on each row by starting alternate rows with a half block.
  • Backfill as you go – Fill behind each level of blocks with gravel and tamp down.
  • Add capstones if desired – Even though it is not structurally necessary, it will give the wall a finished look. Use construction adhesive when placing capstones.

Talk About Curb Appeal

Now that your wall is completed you can add creative touches that will help reflect your personal style. Add a splash of color by staining the blocks or add plants to the top of the wall that will soon cascade over the edge. The sky is the limit. Building a retaining wall is hard work but it provides rewards for many years down the road. You’ve just added a lot of sweat equity to your landscape and upped your home’s curb appeal, all in one weekend. Now where’s that lawn chair?!

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From masonry saws and tampers to trenchers and shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How-To: A DIY Rain Barrel Catches Water & Saves Money

The Benefits of a DIY Rain BarrelWe’ve been having crazy weather lately. Some areas have been getting record rainfall while others haven’t seen a drop in days. One sure way to take advantage of all the rainfall and help you out during the dry days of summer is to install a rain barrel. Check out our blog, Build a Rain Barrel for Your Garden in 5 Easy Steps, for more detailed instructions but here are the highlights:

  • Get a 55 or 80 gallon plastic container
  • Place a couple of concrete blocks beneath the barrel and make sure it is level
  • Drill three holes in the container – one a quarter of the way up from the bottom for the main spigot, one at the very bottom as a drain, and one a quarter of the way from the top for an overflow valve.
  • Install spigots on all three with watertight sealant.
  • Drill a large opening in the lid to direct the downspout into barrel
  • Detach a section of the downspout from house and replace it with flexible downspout tubing. Secure with screws.

Think of the Money You’ll Save

Lawn and garden watering makes up close to 40% of total household water use during the hot summer months. By installing a rain barrel you can save up to 1,300 gallons of water. Rainwater is water that is free of chlorine, lime and calcium and is ideal for watering potted plants and gardens, washing cars, and even washing Fido. Think of the money you can save if you didn’t have to turn on the tap outside.

Keeping Rainwater Where It Needs to Go – In the Garden

Rainwater runoff is a big problem in urban and suburban areas, polluting our waterways with fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants. Rain barrels play a part in cutting down on the runoff problem. By installing a rain barrel you can redirect water away from your foundation and at the same time cut down on your water bill. Rainwater helps to stabilize the PH levels in the soil, therefore cutting down on the need for fertilizers.

Things To Keep In Mind When Installing A Rain Barrel

  • Make sure wherever you decide to place the rain barrel that the ground is level to avoid it tipping over once it is full.
  • If you treat your roof for pests, unhook the rain barrel for a couple weeks to avoid contaminating your barrel.
  • Use round barrels rather than square containers because corners can crack from water pressure.
  • Make sure your garden hose fits the spigots. Garden hoses do not follow standard plumbing pipe thread sizes so you may need an adapter.
  • If you live in a cold climate, you will need to disconnect the rain barrel, drain it and store it over the winter. Don’t forget to re-attach the old downspout.
  • You may be eligible for a rebate on your rain barrel from your local water company so check their website for information.

Rain Barrels – Smart Investment, Big Payoff

Constructing a rain barrel is an easy do-it-yourself project as long as you follow a few guidelines. You may find that you use your rain barrel so often that you want to add several more. Think of all the outdoor projects you can accomplish without ever having to turn on your outdoor faucet! A rain barrel is a smart investment that pays off in big ways.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From ladders and wheel barrows to shovels, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Gardening and Lawn Care, How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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