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the wall {rebuilt!}

October 13, 2010

Last spring, I showed you pictures of the sweet little retaining wall surrounding our home.

It was great and all, except that during the spring thaw, a big portion of the wall collapsed.

Not cool, wall.  Not cool.

We considered DIYing it.  Or, more accurately, DIHing (DO IT, HUSBAND!) it, but in the end decided that it would be best to hire it out – I can barely lift some of the heavier blocks and it would undoubtedly take us longer than I’d like it to, and, frankly, after we built ourselves a brick paver patio in Minneapolis, I was hesitant to take on anything that would require leveling, compacting, and hauling buckets of sand.  Especially a project of this magnitude (our wall is about 130 feet long, and 5 ft tall).

So, we got some bids and found a reasonable landscaper that we trusted (if you’re in SW Michigan and looking to have a wall built, email me, I’ve got your guy).

We added stairs to the driveway side of the wall.  It’s a little more welcoming to guests, and {hopefully} signals that they can come to the front door.  Because we decided to add the stairs, we had to have 2 large tree stumps ground (we had the trees removed last fall, but were content with leaving the stumps to hide under the ivy that used to be where the stairs are).  Can you see that giant pile of stone on the deck?  One of the stumps was surrounded by all of that stone… the landscapers pulled it out and we’re hoping to reuse it.

We’re really pleased with how it turned out!  The wall was built about 2 feet in front of where the old wall stood so that the landscapers didn’t spend a ton of time digging out the area behind where the wall was (because time = money, and we were looking to save on both).

As a bonus, this means that we have a little bit larger front yard now, and I think that it will look really great once we plant some flowers.  And I am really close to buying a bunch of mums and just planting them in there, because I just found out that they’re perennials here and I’m loving the gold & maroon options I’ve seen this fall.  But I know we’ve got a bunch of work to do first – like bury our gas line (it’s just hanging out up there now – can you see it?), plant grass seed in the area in front of the wall, remove the old deck on the front of the house and replace it with a paver walkway from the new stairs to the front door, and plan out where I’m going to plant everything.  I’d love to create a more symmetrical hedge in front of the house, with low-maintenance perennials in front of them.  (If you’ve got any low-maintenance suggestions, I’m all ears.)

Since the weather looks like it’s going to be beautiful this weekend, we hope to at least get our gas line buried and throw down some grass seed.  And, since the leaves seem to be falling at a ridiculous rate lately, we’ll be buying a leaf blower and taking it for a spin around the yard.  Thank goodness fall is so beautiful, or I might be really mad at it re: the amount of things that need to happen before the snow flies.


14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2010 11:32 am

    It looks great. Mums are great and they do not require a lot of maintenance except you will need to pinch them back to half of their length in May and June. Do not pinch them back after July 4th or you will lose the flower buds. I like coneflowers and blackeye Susan’s for summer color. Ginger plants are a nice low plant. Hostas are always good and they come in many colors for you to pick. Toad lily is a fall flowing plant; I planted it in my garden last year and the blooms are a pretty light pink. Asian lilies are good for late spring and early summer.

    • October 13, 2010 12:01 pm

      Oh! Thanks for the suggestions! We’ve got some hostas, coneflowers, & blackeye Susans that I will split & plant next spring. And I’ve got a few lillies to plant as well. I didn’t know about pinching back the mums – we’ve got one small mum plant in our back garden… maybe this is why it stays so tiny?!

  2. GGG permalink
    October 13, 2010 12:18 pm

    That is beautiful, I like the idea that you moved the wall farther out from the house and put in the steps. Kyle should be able to give you some ideas-he did a great job on my “goat” garrden!

  3. October 13, 2010 1:37 pm

    Wow, the wall turned out seriously great! I love it, and it is incredibly welcoming. I feel like I could just walk right on in. It must feel great to have that done!

  4. October 13, 2010 1:51 pm

    Much better! I guess you weren’t kidding when you asked for me to come help. ; ) It’s too bad you’re so far away!

    Be careful about which of those florist mums you get (the potted ones with large blooms you see at home depot and the like) because they may not be hardy for your area. You won’t know this unless you know exactly which variety you’re getting but the majority of them won’t be labeled since they are meant to be used as an annual. Cold hardy mums have smaller blooms and less vibrant colors. Most mums also like full sun and it looks like your front yard is part shade. Native mums would work the best in that area.

    I’d recommend starting out with some dwarf shrubs or conifers when you plant that area. They really help ground the space and give all year interest. Then you just pick perennials around them which makes it a little easier to wrap your head around the whole thing (if you know what I mean). I wrote a post about the dwarf conifers we ended up picking for our front:

    They are perfect for the front because they look good all year round (even in snow), are extremely low maintenance, and don’t need to be pruned to stay small. They do take a little while to fill in though and they can cost a bit but if you pick more common varieties you can save a lot of cost.

    I was thinking of writing a post about the perennials I used in the rock wall flower bed too. It would probably just be list because I have 66 plants in there!

  5. October 13, 2010 2:27 pm

    I love the wall! And the stairs definitely will encourage people to use your front door. Yay for finished projects and planting flowers! 🙂

  6. October 13, 2010 6:32 pm

    Oh what a lovely wall 🙂

    Love those steps too – cant wait to see them next summer in bloom 🙂

  7. mom permalink
    October 13, 2010 8:36 pm


  8. Debbie permalink
    October 13, 2010 11:02 pm

    The wall looks great! The steps were a nice addition.

  9. October 14, 2010 12:17 pm

    Your wall looks great! I like that your front yard is bigger and the steps are a great idea too.

  10. Tami permalink
    October 14, 2010 1:00 pm

    Looks great! I have a suggestion, but I think it will come by snail mail……..

  11. Catherine permalink
    October 14, 2010 11:40 pm

    Ohhh i love it! The stairs are a wonderful touch!

  12. October 20, 2010 9:26 pm

    It looks amazing.

    And, I’m laughing my butt off at DIH. I’m totally using that. Although I already do, but I didn’t know it. 😉


  1. happy new year! «

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