Yard design and construction
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  1. #1
    Registered User peanut's Avatar
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    Question Yard design and construction

    Anyone do this themselves? DH wants a $15,000 yard makeover. There's no way we can afford that. I'm wondering...

    Can we do it ourselves and how much can we save? It involves about 75' of a 1' high retaining wall. I have no idea how to construct those properly for our clay soil.

    He also wants to cover most of the yard with rock to lower maintenance and prevent weeds. I notice the neighbors that do that have a really thick type of felt/cloth down under the rock. Does anyone know what it is?

    I'm wanting a crusher dust patio area and a dye garden in the front yard, so I can spin outside on hot summer mornings.

    We'll be moving some largish bushes (about 6'). Possibly digging out a hedge...

    Has anyone done their own landscaping on this scale? Or are we better off hiring someone to do it for us. FYI, we are in our 50's & 60's. Ie. not as energetic as we used to be.

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    Registered User frugalfranny's Avatar
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    Check the prices for your area for the savings.............depends on what the charge per hr. is........

    You can do it if you have the muscle/time...................for the know how---lots of info on-line.

    Sounds like a large project........check into hiring SOME of it done.........and you do the rest.

    The 'cloth' is sold at Lowe's and HD............if you have them.

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    You can get landscape cloth a lot of places. The problem with rock/gravel beds is that within a few years they collect enough blown dirt and debris that weeds will start to root in it anyways.

    I would start by breaking up the yard into smaller projects and assessing them. Some of it you can probably do yourself with a realistic timetable. A 75' wall probably won't get done in one weekend. Maybe not in a month of weekends.

    There's a rule somewhere that says to determine how long you think a project will take you should take your estimated time, double it and increase it by a factor of one. Thus, an estimated 4 hour yard project will actually take you 8 days to complete.
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  4. #4
    Registered User peanut's Avatar
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    FF: thanks. We do have a Lowe's and an HD. Might be worth hiring out the retaining wall part.

    CH: Thanks. I pointed out to DH that our neighbor did rocks only three years ago and they are starting to get weeds in them. He said "Well you have to maintain it". I asked him was it easier to weed dirt or rocks, and got no reply. Hmmm...

    I did point out to DH that his work schedule (rotating shift work) is such that he really only has one weekend in four that he can get anything done. That means 3 more weekends before snow flies, unless he wants to take time off for this. I really don't think he understands the complexity of what he wants to do.

    He is asking me to draw up plans. I've done this before and honestly, I haven't a clue how to deal with this. I have never done plans for a proper retaining wall, and I don't have time to do the research these days. I'm hooking and selling rugs.

    The idea to break it into small jobs is excellent. Jobs that could be done on a weekend. What would be one day jobs for most people are two or three for DH because he is such a perfectionist and just works slowly. But the first job that would have to be done is the retaining wall. Can't move or do anything until that's done.

  5. #5
    Registered User Nadders11's Avatar
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    We did a major backyard Reno last summer. Which included landscaping fabric (cheapest we found was at Costco) and gravel because the yard was in a place inaccessible by lawnmower. On top of a 3 ft high 10 ft long retaining wall. Now putting down gravel is a pain in the butt to maintain. We did this last summer (July) and I spent the rest of the summer pulling grass every few days. Made me mad. This spring we used round up....yes I know, it sucks but this is the only way you're going to have a weed free rocks after its installed. It is very minimal weeds right now, nothing like last year. If you are gonna do this kill everything under where the rocks are going, try cardboard if you don't want to use chemicals. Then use 2 or 3 layers of landscape fabric, we only used one layer.

    This August we are doing our front yard. Probably a 2 ft high cement block retaining wall around the yard, fence, garden, sod. My dh does 90% of the work himself. We're thinking it'll take him 2-3 weeks of working on it everyday. He does have a friend who is a general contractor that will be over next month to figure out the best plan of action and to use his bobcat for excavating. You will need this, or youll be spending the whole time digging up the ground for the wall. If you are not moving ground, you will need back fill as well. For clay you'll need a base of gravel for the blocks, we have clay too.

    If we hired the general contractor guy to do this for us he'd charge us 40 an hour and 75 hour for bobcat use. And this is a discount. But he is fast and knows what he's doing.

    It's going to be physically demanding, especially if you don't have heavy equipment..a truck is a must or youll be paying lots of delivery charges. Just getting the gravel for the yard was three trips with a bucket and shovel to the landscape store, shoveling enough to fill our truck bed, taking it home, unloading to our front yard, shoveling into a wheelbarrow, hauling to back yard, up the hill, dumping on landscape fabric, grading it. This was a 10 by 20 ft space to fill. It took 3 people a good 4 days of full work to do this. But maybe cost us 500?

    Our retaining wall cost about 2000? With some labor costs, as we had help but mostly did ourselves. 15000 I think is over priced, even if you hire someone.

    I have 4000-5000 in the budget for the front yard..this is the basics, I'll make it pretty later.

    Anymore questions I would be happy to help. Inside or outside renos, we've probably done it.

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    Registered User peanut's Avatar
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    Thanks Nadders11. I'll take this info to DH and see what he says.

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    The base of the retaining wall will be the hardest part. The main thing is to make sure you do that first layer properly or the it will get worse the higher you go. Although only going up 1ft won't be so bad. I built a wall that is about 15 -20 ft long and at one point about 3ft tall. It has not moved (heaved from frost) in 8 years and it's solid!
    Once the first layer is down and level the rest is easy.
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