It is finally that time of year again. The ground has thawed and Kurt has started his excavating ways. In between emptying our old garden beds, he decided to get started digging out where some of our new walls will be going on the tomato tower side of the yard. It will be interesting to grow our tomatoes in a new location after 6 years of growing them on the one slope. But, they had to move to make way for our final few walls to be established.
We waffle on whether there will be 3 or 4 walls in this area. It is very steep so the beds will likely be fairly narrow so that the walls do not need to be too tall. That’s where it may be that we have 4 rather than the 3. What we know for sure is that we need to build a larger retaining wall around our cedar trees. The previous owners had used some landscaping ties, which are still holding strong. The problem is that the wall made from landscaping ties is short and is not holding back the crushed gravel that they used to backfill and make a larger footprint for the shop. Although the slope is not really eroding, our dogs do tend to walk back there and push the gravel down, so over time, it has built up and is now pouring over the mini-wall. That along with the natural debris that comes out of the trees, it is a bit of a mess and continues pouring down the slope.
Now, you might be thinking, what is going to stop the dogs from continuing to do what they are doing and have the gravel overflow the new wall we build. The new wall will not be as tall as the hill the shop sits on, so this issue will likely persist, despite the new wall. You would be correct, but we have a plan. A couple years ago, I created a mini-barrier on the shop side of the cedars with some leftover larger rocks that we had. That has created a bit of a path for the dogs and has helped slow the pushing of the gravel. What I plan to do is cover the entire back slope with larger rocks that the dogs don’t like walking on. We have also decided that we will likely add a fence around the inside of the cedars, right up to the shop wall, so that the dogs will not have access to that slope anymore. Between both those measures, we think it will help eliminate our problem. The only time the dogs will be back there is when we are grabbing wood. We plan to build a larger firewood storage behind the shed, since we seem to have rapidly outgrown our original wood storage.
Back to the walls. The top wall that will go around the cedars, will also encase the landscaping ties, adding a little extra hold of the soil around that area. We will be bringing the new wall up the trees about a foot, in order to ensure that we can level out the soil for really good watering. We almost lost these trees a few years ago because all of our watering heads had become buried in the gravel. We now have hanging drippers that are well above the ground so that they cannot be buried again. Luckily we were able to nurse them back to good health! With the new wall around them, the water will not be lost down the slope and will hopefully result in less water waste around those trees…which also means less weeds up there!
From there, we will build a few walls to terrace that slope and make it more user-friendly. It has always been a bit of a workout doing anything on that slope. Even picking the tomatoes was an adventure because the slope is quite steep, so your calves got a good workout while you stood and picked. We do know that one of the other walls will extend from the wall that creates the top part of our path. Based on the natural progression of that extension, it will likely be the bottom wall on that side. We don’t imagine that there will be another wall below it. Instead, we will work to flatten that area for our future gazebo and lounging area.
So far, Kurt has backfilled behind the path, and started cutting in the first parts of one of the walls. As he was working on backfilling the path, he realized that the large triangular bed above the path will likely need a little kicker wall in there. It is something I had hoped to do as the bed still has quite the slope, however it all depended on what we had planned to put there. At one point we discussed flowers, so I thought we might be able to leave it and have trailing flowers in that area. Now, we will likely be building a path between our first two walls, instead of using it as a garden bed, and will instead use that triangular bed for herbs and maybe some flowers. The dogs utilize the space between the top two walls as a path, and with the way our cedars are growing, it likely won’t make sense to have that as a garden bed.
From the archway down to the top of our path, and the new area that Kurt has been digging in, we will be putting in a set of stairs. That will allow us to utilize that path and also give us faster access to that far side of the yard, without having to go down the entire path. For now, Excavator Kurt has been side tracked into sifting and moving the large mound of dirt at the bottom corner of our yard. It is all the soil and plant debris that the company who cleared out our junipers, left for us. They had said if we leave it for a few years, the soil would end up being excellent for growing in. Based on the first few sifts, it looks like that time has come! We have to move the mound as we will be replacing our back and side fences over the next few weekends, and although we could work around the mound, it would be easier if we could move it and give ourselves a little more space.
Now that Spring is here, there will be quite a bit more landscaping and gardening posts mixed in with my shop adventures. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Variety is the spice of life, right!