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The Mistake I Made Installing Pressure-Treated Timber Stairs

 
Math Errors

So I've talked to you in the past about some of the difficulties and challenges of building stairs. They're not easy. From a mathematical standpoint, it works out just like rise over run. You look at the hillside behind me and you say, "OK let's say we've got 15feet of height differential.  We've got a 6-inch stair, so that's going to equal 30stairs." Then we figure that at the depth 12 inches per stair, you're going to have about 30 feet. You measure, "do we have 30 feet?" And it all works out on paper. But when you get out in construction, sometimes things go wrong.  So, today I want to show you something that didn't go right that we're about to fix and what happened and how it could have been prevented. Right here we started building the stairs as we normally do. And the one thing I want to point out is these for 7 or 8 stairs look fantastic from an aesthetic standpoint.  They're solid and they're strong.  The problem is that they're too deep....

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Retaining Wall Failure

 
Retaining Wall Blowout

Well, this is not a sight that you want to see on your property. As you can see, we have a retaining wall failure. I was given a call by this client of ours to come out and take a look at this wall and see what we could do to help them with it. This is not a wall that we built. This wall is seven years old and the remainder of the wall runs down the side of the driveway looks to be in pretty good shape. So, they came home one day after a hard rain storm and noticed that this wall had fallen down. Let's take a look at why this wall failed. If we look into the next door neighbor's yard, we will see a beautiful new landscape. Look at all that nice rock work and those nice rocks stairs. However several weeks ago this was all wooded and this hillside was not clean and pine straw. Rather this hillside had a lot of vegetation on it. That vegetation prevented a lot of silt sediment from washing downstream. So, you can see this water comes downstream into this low...

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How to Backfill a Timber Retaining Wall

 
57 Stone

Today I do not want to talk to you about dirt. I want to talk to you about this stuff: 57-stone. This is a course stone about 3/4 - 1" and it's great for drainage.  We're building a paver patio that's going to extend off of the house to just a portion underneath this deck. So, what's important here is this wall’s pretty short. It's about 3 ½ ft tall at its highest point, so you might be tempted to try to get away without drainage. We've seen a lot of jobs where contractors will just backfill with dirt only.

I do not recommend in any situation but specifically where water is going to be sloping down and has a potential to seep in behind this wall. What we've done here is we've put in a boat load of this 57-stone instead of using dirt.  In a normal drainage system, you're going to have about 12 inches of dirt that you're going to wrap in a fabric and allow that to create a separation between your gravel and your dirt.

So eventually they don't combine....

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How to Build a Retaining Wall and 6 Reasons they Fail

 
How to Build a Retaining Wall and 6 Reasons they Fail

Today we're going to cover six big mistakes when you're building a retaining wall and how to avoid them so let's get started. I predicted this wall would fail over a year ago in this exact spot, in this exact way. You can see where the grades behind this wall have dipped down. It's going to blow that wall out and in fact, we had one catastrophic wall failure on this project last year and we had to repair it. We got another one coming up; it's not because I have a crystal ball it's because the writing was on the wall. It's just completely shot right there, that's from drainage, from not maintaining it. You can see where all the grades have dropped down in here and now we've got big sinkholes behind this retaining wall. I can literally stick my leg down in here, up to my knees. You can see this distinct angle, it’s all bowed out.

Avoid Problems

This problem could have easily been avoided had the property owner, the...

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Timber Retaining Wall, Artificial Turf, Belgard Paver Patio

 
Week 1

We are about one week into a major renovation project and we are working on by far the most dangerous hillside we have ever worked on. I want to try to give you an idea of what we're working on. If you look at how steep the slope behind me is, so we've got a two-tier retaining wall.  We have our lower tier behind me that extends up about 6ft tall. This entire slope was very steep and covered in a rose or control plants that have large evergreen trees on it. We've created this middle level area which is 14ft deep and then we've built the second reinforced timber retaining wall. This middle terrace is going to go to the blue lines behind you. That is going to be a putting green.  This putting green is going to be a pretty awesome feature.  Around the outside of this putting green is going to be a rock or chipping area. This is the part that makes me nervous. Every time it comes down, I can't help but hold my breath. It's been in and out about 60 times.  But...

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How to Landscape a Steep Slope Without Retaining walls

 
Host:

I'm taking you into a project today, where thinking outside of the box saved a customer twenty thousand dollars. We're going to be transforming your yard, aren’t we? We’re going to save you tens of thousands of dollars instead of rebuilding this retaining wall. We're going bring this slope in. Customer: And stop my patio and three season porch from falling into the woods. Host: Yeah, it's falling down. Too many times people automatically fall into this belief that they have to reinstall what is already in place. Oftentimes what is already there is a failed design or inadequate for their updated needs and their circumstances. I'm here with the customer, so now that we're done, what do you think about, from where we started the concept we started with, which is kind of unusual? We didn't rebuild the retaining wall, what we focused on was eliminating the need for retaining and cutting your budget by nearly half, by doing so.

Customer wife:

I absolutely love it, my...

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How to Build a Retaining Wall (and Why They Fail)

 
How to Build a Retaining Wall

Retaining walls fail for a number of reasons and I want you guys and gals out there that are installing retaining walls to learn a few tips and tricks of the trade that will help you improve your installation skill, and we'll separate you from the herd. What I am going to show you at the site today is a really common reason why a retaining wall falls apart. The first thing that we look at is the choice of blocks. A lot of times, landscapers will migrate towards the cheapest block and they tend to be hollow and have a lip on the back and neck. They're solid on the top and then they're hollow on the bottom, and what happens is that water can get trapped in there between the cavity and it has nowhere to go. Then it goes through a freeze-thaw cycle, expands, contracts and pushes the blocks over. They also have an inadequate pinning system. Because they're light, they're easy to pick up and they're fast to install. You see they have their connection method...

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How to Build a Boulder Retaining Wall

 
How to Build a Boulder Retaining Wall

I'm at the base of this house, and what's happening, the issue we have today is this entire porch and the decking behind it is sliding down this hill. This is going to be about a 16-foot tall boulder retaining wall we have to build, and what's happening is it's sliding into this lake that I'm standing out on a dock on right now. We set the plan into motion about six months ago. I had an engineering firm come out here, and what we're going to be doing is we're going to be building a retaining wall to tie in with the neighbor's retaining wall starting at this point. It's going to be five foot tall and then as we go, we're going to raise this wall up to catch this porch, to save this porch from sliding in. Then the wall is going to stay at that same height and wrap around and tie into the corner of this deck. To get down here we've got to create a ramp, we've got to create a road so that we can get an excavator with a thumb down here. And...

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How to Turn a Hill into a Flat Yard with a Retaining wall

 

  How to Turn a Hill into a Flat Yard with a Retaining Wall Today what we're going to be talking about is how to turn a hillside into a usable backyard. What we initially saw when I came out was a steep slope that ran directly into the back of this customer's house. It led to multiple issues; the first one was drainage. Everything on the site drained right down into their basement which created floods during heavy rains. The second was there was no room to use the yard for anything. They wanted flat enough space that they could have their kids play in the backyard.  But they also had a budget. So the solution that we came up with was to chunk it into three separate parts. The first part is excavation, which is what you see behind me right now. The second part is stabilization. Although we're creating a flat space, we're also creating more aggressive slopes on the site.  They need to be stabilized. And then the third phase of this project is...

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